1 hour till midnight on a sunday night. Another monday ahead. 4 more left till this year is over, including tomorrow. Hope you’re doing well. Hope you’re looking forward to the beginning of the work week because I am certainly not. Ok, I give up, I’ve been trying to write this intro paragraph for the last 30 minutes and I’m totally out of material here. Nothing to write about. At least nothing interesting, and I do want to share this recipe, so I won’t bore you with the inconsequential details of my life… tonight.
Let’s get this cake thing going! Right? who doesn’t love cake… I’m actually not a big cake fan (zebra cake was different, I have that in my arsenal now for when my nephew’s birthday comes along and it was a great skill to learn, thanks Fae! ), but a small coffee cake to go with … yes… a morning coffee is a different story. Bring it. Up in these lands! butter and flour in the mornings is a must! (I would go for eggs myself but hey…oh, yes, add a steak in there)
300g AP flour
3 Tbsp hershey’s coco powder
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup sliced almonds (toasted in a little olive oil)
2 eggs (room temp)
200g butter (very soft)
200g pear butter (see bellow)
1/4 vanilla extract
200g confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp water
dark chocolate shavings to garnish
For the cake. Sift dry ingredients in a bowl, including the almonds (which can be toasted on a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil, for a few minutes on medium low heat). Reserve. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar and eggs. Cream until fluffy and light in color, about 5 minuted on medium speed. Add the rest of the wet ingredient and beat until combined. The butter could curdle by over-beating which isn’t the end of the world, but try stop when the mix looks smooth and nicely combined. Fold in the dry ingredients, and by this I mean, do not use the stand mixer, simply fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones using a silicon spatula or a wooden spoon. Some marbling is ok, the batter will finish combining itself while cooking. The batter should resemble that of muffins, creamy with some structure, not runny. The purpose of folding in this particular case is to develop as little gluten as possible. This cake has a very delicate crumb, is not as moist as other cakes, but that’s probably a good thing if having it with a nice and hot cup of coffee in the morning, monday morning, yes. There’s something about monday morning, anything that can ease one into the madness of the work week is always appreciated… but I’m digressing … it’s sunday night, that’s why. Back to baking. Spray nonstick oil, on nonstick cake pans. No need to flour if they’re nonstick. If you’ve been reading this blog, and enjoying the posts on baking, that oven should be preheated to 350F for about an hour before anything goes in there. Fill the pans half way up with the batter. Slam them on the counter a few times, to even out the content and remove any unwanted big bubbles. Place the pans in the oven and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes. Insert an instant read thermometer into the center of the cake, if you get a read close to boiling point or 212F at sea level, then the cake should be done. You can also insert a toothpick in the same fashion, and only a few little crumbs should stick to the toothpick, but nothing wet should be visible on it.
Oh, I almost forgot! the pear butter! I recently posted about a pear tart I made for the thanksgiving after party. Two bosc pears survived that ordeal. Core the pears. Leave the peels on. It will add texture to the cake. Dice and cook over medium heat in a saucepan. Add about a 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, a pinch of salt. Cook, until pears break down, and reduce to cook off the excess liquid. Some caramelization might occur at the bottom of the saucepan which is great. Keep an eye on it, don’t let anything burn. Transfer content of the saucepan to a blender. Be careful, pears are really hot, they will release a lot of steam if you blend them hot. You can, but protect yourself, and hold the blender lid down tight, cover it with one or two dry kitchen towels. Press down hard on that lid, pulse a couple of times, then blend continuously for a few minutes. If there’s too little liquid for the blender to do its job. Add some water. Blend until smooth. About 5 minutes. Return the blended pears to the saucepan. Reduce until you have a mixture with the consistency of warm marmalade. Allow to cool in the fridge overnight. That’s it.
For the icing. This is a simple as it gets, at least this kind of icing. Just place sugar and water in a bowl and whisk until a paste forms. Degrees of thickness… right? well, I didn’t measure the ingredients listed above, they are an approximation. Most people will be able to do it without thinking about it. But if you haven’t made icing before, I would start by placing the sugar in the bowl and drizzle half the water, and whisk, check, you’ll know if you need more water, because it’s impossible to incorporate all the sugar if the water is too little. Add a little more water, whisk again, it will come together. I stop right when that happens, and maybe add a little more sugar to thicken it up a bit more. It will set once it cools in the fridge. Drizzle the icing over the cakes. I used the same whisk to scoop out some icing, and I let it drip over the cakes. Piece of cake. Yes, intended. Shave some dark chocolate over the icing and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to overnight. Bon appetit and happy monday! Be strong!