The other week Ria posted a gloriously golden cake – Lavender Honeycake – which looked like summer itself. I could practically smell the thing, as sweet and fragrant as long nights, wafting through my computer screen. If Ria’s cake – tanned and dressed in florals (throw some strappy sandals on that thing!) – is summer, then this cake is winter.
Paler by far, and denser, this cake is made for hot cups of tea or strong coffee. The buckwheat flour gives it nutty-flavoured heft, the roasty-toasty hazelnuts adding to the comforting weight and flavour. The pears turn to winter’s candy underneath the sprinkling of raw sugar and the white chocolate pieces buried within are rewards for all your efforts. The Lewis Road Creamery Double Caramel Milk is a touch of genius – full of butterscotch, burnt sugar and syrupy tongue-smackers – but if you cannot get it then… move to New Zealand. Sorry, I mean, use regular milk and perhaps add a spice you like. A teaspoon of vanilla extract, some crushed roasted cardamom pods, a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, whatever tickles your taste-buds.
Overall, this cake is robust and somehow earnest. Supportive, but straight-talking. Despite it’s ingredients this cake is far from being too saccharine. In some ways it’s almost a little savoury (I had a weird urge, late at night, to whack a slice of aged cheddar on top. I didn’t, because I didn’t have any aged cheddar loafing about, but the thought was there). That said the complex, combined sweetnesses of the salty, butterscotchy caramel, pear, white chocolate and raw sugar – which, ahem, toasts on the sides of the pan like toffee – serve to remind you that yes, indeed, you are loved.
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Pear, Roasted Hazelnut and Caramel Cake
3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
100 grams good white chocolate (I use Whittaker’s)
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 bosc pear
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup thick greek yoghurt
1/4 cup of Lewis Road Creamery Double Caramel Milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tbsp raw sugar
Preheat oven to 180°c/350°f. During this preheating roast your hazelnuts on a baking tray. Remove when fragrant, skins are peeling and nut inside is turning golden brown. Set aside to cool.
Butter and flour a 19cm round springform pan. Set aside.
In a small bowl combine both types of flour, the baking powder, and the salt.
In a larger bowl whisk the eggs and the brown sugar together. Add the yoghurt, milk and melted butter and mix through until fully combined.
Peel and core the pear and cut into thin slices
Roughly chop the chocolate.
Rub the skins off the hazelnuts (some skins are okay) and chop roughly. Mix chocolate and hazelnuts into dry ingredients.
Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until just combined taking care not to overmix.
Pour the thick batter into the prepared baking tin and smooth the top. Evenly space the pear slices and then sprinkle the raw sugar over the top.
Bake in the preheated oven, checking from 40 minutes and removing once the top is starting to turn golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with just a few damp crumbs.
Leave to cool for 10 – 20 minutes, before turning out to cool completely on a rack.
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If you make this cake please let me know what you think. And I am dying to know what you think about the combination of cheese atop cake / loaf? Have you ever tried it? Would you? Insane or genius? Insanely genius?