Chocolate and Pear Cake
I make this cake in a loaf tin, as it used to be made at home for our merenda – afternoon tea. If you want to serve it as a dessert, I suggest making it in a 15cm round tin.
- 75g bitter chocolate, broken into small pieces
- 75g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 75g icing sugar, sifted
- 1 egg, at room temperature, separated
- 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 120g plain flour, preferably Italian 00
- 1 large, ripe but firm William’s Pear, about 225g/1/2lb
- Unsalted butter and flour for the tin
- icing sugar, to decorate
Heat the oven to 130ºC/Gas Mark 1/2. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt it in the oven. Remove from the oven and keep in a warm place. Turn the oven heat up to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4.
Beat the butter until really soft. I use a hand-held electric mixer. Gradually add the icing sugar while beating constantly, then beat until light and pale yellow. (If you add all the sugar at once and start beating butter and sugar together, you will find the sugar flying everywhere except in the butter.) Add the 3 egg yolks, cinnamon, salt and melted chocolate.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry and then fold it into the mixture by the spoonful, alternating with spoonfuls of flour. Fold lightly but thoroughly.
Peel and core the pear and cut it into 1cm cubes. Mix lightly into the mixture.
Butter a 900g loaf tin. Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of flour, shake the tin so the flour covers all the surface and then throw away the excess flour. Spoon the cake mixture into the tin. Bake for about 50 minutes or until the sides of the cake have shrunk from the tin and the cake is dry in the middle – test by inserting a wooden cocktail stick.
Remove the tin from the oven, unmould the cake on to a wire rack and leave to cool.
Sprinkle with sifted icing sugar just before serving.