Saturday 28 July 2012

Pear and Chocolate Loaf 2.0

Despite being a humble loaf, this cake always finds a way to be the centre of attention.

It was the cake this blog was named after (as well as the combination being one of my favourites - I often have a bowl of freshly chopped pear laced with melted dark chocolate for dessert) as it was the first recipe I created from scratch that I loved. It was alluded to in my very first post.

It was the cake I chose for my first blog anniversary post in 2010. In the post I admitted and announced to the world (and to myself, really) that I wanted to make baking my career and train as a pastry chef.

It was also the cake my agent, Juliet, picked to try when we were first talking about a book - thankfully she liked it.

At the beginning, it showed me that I could bake.

Ever since it has taught me that I'm human and that I have to accept my mistakes.

The first time I posted about it, on my blog anniversary, it sank. I'd foolishly opened the door early on, momentarily forgetting the consequences of alpine air on rising cake batter. I posted about it anyway, sunken pictures and all.

Then there was last week.

We've been doing lots of decorating in the past few weeks (painting several rooms, sanding and varnishing wood floors, moving heavy furniture etc etc). It's chaotic. Though the kitchen isn't being decorated, it's full of furniture from other rooms. To open the oven I have to crawl underneath my desk. So when I came to check this cake, I was on my knees on the hard tiles, head bashing against my desk, face in the oven. I realised I didn't have a toothpick or cake tester with me (and couldn't face untangling myself from the desk to find one), so I tried pressing the top and looking for the springback.

It sprang back as required, so the cake came out of the oven. It hadn't risen much but it was golden brown. After a few minutes, I messily transferred it to the wire rack, causing it to crack slightly. I cut a slice from the end and went off to sit on the floor amongst the paint pots, balancing my tea on the stepladder.

Then I went back to the kitchen. There was a pool of liquid cake under the rack, swirled with drops of melted chocolate. The middle hadn't cooked. I swore.

So. I, er, recommend checking that you get a clean tester from the middle before removing it from the oven.

When I was working from the original recipe last week everything seemed a bit confusing and jumbled up. Instead of replacing the recipe in the orignal post (which I'd like to keep for nostalgic reasons but would rather you didn't actually bake from) I thought I'd test and write a new one. I tried it again yesterday (the loaf you see in the pictures) and made a few small changes. I've enjoyed updating my hot cross bun recipe each year (v.3 is here) so it seemed like a good plan.

To be honest, it's also because I'm achey and exhausted from all the decorating and proposal-writing and my kitchen is full of shelves and desks and chairs and my cookbooks are randomly piled under dust sheets and who knows where my notebooks are and I simply couldn't face making something new.

Hopefully it'll all be done soon (final draft of the proposal is in, so close now) and I'll have more time to bake and catch up with all the internet things that backlog so quickly (emails, comments, my google reader, etc etc). I might even have a little holiday.

(And yes, that is a Bayeux tapestry mug. I love it.)

Pear and Chocolate Loaf 2.0

1 small ripe pear
60g dark chocolate (around 70%)
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
75g caster sugar
50g light brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
135g plain flour
1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of fine sea salt
1 tbsp plain yogurt

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Line a 8-9" loaf tin with baking parchment (or one of those liners) - fold the corners in so it fits. Peel the pear over a bowl, catching any juices. Chop into small cubes - you should have roughly 100-125g of chopped pear. Chop the chocolate up into rough chunks. Weigh the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.

Place the butter and both sugars into the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a mixing bowl and electric hand whisk) and cream them together until fluffy and pale. Scrape down the sides then add 1/4 of the beaten eggs and beat well until smooth. Add the next 1/4 and beat well. With the final two 1/4 additions, add a teaspoon of flour from the bowl too (this helps stop it curdling). Take the bowl off the mixer and scrape down.

Toss the pears and chocolate in the flour mixture (this helps them stay up in the mixture rather than sink as it bakes). Add to the mixer bowl and fold together until you have a stiff but uniform mixture. Add the yogurt and any leftover pear juices and fold again until combined. Spoon into the lined loaf tin and smooth over.

Add a sheet of baking parchment or foil over the top (to stop it overbrowning) then place into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes then remove the paper. Bake for a further 7 to 10 minutes until a cake tester can be removed cleanly from the centre. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool - but do try a warm slice while the chocolate is gooey. The cake keeps in a tin for 2 days.

(Makes 1 loaf - about 10 slices)


  1. Gorgeous cake, lovely flavours. I too like pear and melted chocolate as a standby dessert.nice idea to do a version 2 update. We all do that in real life so why not in our blogs?!

  2. loaf cakes are quite simply, a lovely big hug in cake form. this looks amazing! and i cannot wait for your book! eek!

  3. You get all the credit in the world from me just for being willing to crawl under a desk to get to the oven. If it was me, I would have just fallen back on ice cream for dessert and done a re-post. Impressive dedication! :)

  4. I recently found your blog and am so excited to take in your wonderful posts! I particularly enjoyed reading your first blog anniversary post, as your sentiments about sharing your decision to train as a pastry chef resonated with strongly- I recently started pastry school and left behind a career in academia. I've also rarely had the pear and chocolate combination, so I'm looking forward to trying it!

  5. Love the fact you blog about the mistakes as well as the successes Emma. Beautiful post.

  6. Every single time I visit your blog, I salivate a little over the name because, as you say, it's a magical combination. Must try your loaf 2.0!

  7. Just like your namesake. A match made in heaven obviously!

  8. Such a wonderful little cake, a perfect combination of flavours and it's clear how much it means to you. A beautiful post, as ever.

  9. Haha, I love the Bayeux tapestry mug! I'm sure I have a pencil somewhere at my parents' house...

    And this cake looks gorgeous. I love recipes that are made again and again, although like you I'm prone to tweaking and trying to get them even more perfect :-)

  10. This looks so good. Pears are my favorite fruit, hands down, and I love them with chocolate. I can't wait to try this in the fall! And I love your evolving recipes. I think that's so important in any stage of one's baking adventures - always questioning recipes, trying to make them better. Fingers crossed for your proposal!

  11. Emma, I can totally picture you in your new place with the desk in the kitchen. How you managed to share your adventures with us while moving and proposal writing is heroic!
    I think we all appreciate your juicy honest details - fallen cakes, mess, and all.

  12. Dear Emma

    Thank you once again for filling my kitchen with beautiful smells and my mind with gorgeous images! Your cake is in the oven as I type and can't wait to try it. My family I am sure will thank you too........ can't wait for your book !

  13. holy delicious. that looks amazing! can't wait to try this!!!

  14. I made it today and after 2 hours cake was gone ! Yummy! :)

  15. this looks delicious! i love loaf cakes, and i cant wait to try this! I would love to use your photo's in my online magazine !
    ally x

  16. I love your bayeux mug too!

  17. Working London Mummy - It's such a great quick dessert. I agree - I wouldn't do versions all the time, but it's nice to do it occasionally!

    Angela @ the fairy bread chronicles - I love that description of 'a lovely big hug in cake form'! So pleased you're looking forward to the book :)

    Melissa | Being a Bear - Haha well what can I say - I'm addicted!

    Amanda - How wonderful. How are you enjoying pastry school? I hope you enjoy the pear and chocolate combination!

    Sally - My Custard Pie - I'm glad you like it Sally. It's so easy - especially as a perfectionist - to never admit failure that can be hidden in the kitchen away from online eyes, but I like being truthful. Everybody makes mistakes!

    Kavey - Well I think my job as a blogger is done if you salivate every time you visit! As you say, it's a magical combination :)

    thecitygourmand - It is a fabulous match - the juiciness of the pear breaks through the richness of the chocolate. I do think it's worth having a fairly dark chocolate though, to temper the sweetness.

    london bakes - It's funny - it's definitely a delicious cake, but the meaning of it and occasions it's linked to have sort of overcome the taste. Glad you like it :)

    thelittleloaf - Hehe! Sadly it doesn't wash well in the dishwasher - keeps fading. So now I only use it on special occasions ;) It's one of the only downsides of blogging - once posted I don't always make a recipes lots of times, however much I like it.

    vanilla bean blog - Evolving recipes is definitely a key part of baking adventures, as you say. Thanks for the crossed fingers, Sarah!

    erin @ yummy supper - Hehe well I'm glad you enjoy the juicy honest details :) Will be emailing you asap xxx

    Karen - I do hope you enjoyed it! I hope the book does happen and you enjoy it when it's out :)

    basalevolution - I hope you do get to try it! Glad you like it.

    Marta Kościelak - I'm so glad it went down so well :)

    chicaescocesa - I love loaf cakes too, they're so simple and satisfying. I hope you enjoy it if you try it!

    Sara - It's awesome, isn't it! I got it when we visited the tapestry :)

  18. The pear and chocolate combination seems like it would be great. Thanks for the recipe.

  19. This cake was truly delicious! Made this because I've always loved this flavour combination too after first having it on crepes in France, but when I tasted it what I loved most was the texture/flavour of the actual cake. The yoghurt is such a great addition. Tweaked the recipe a few days later with bananas instead, here is a link if you would like to see!

    I think the banana version was less sophisticated but more homely than the original :) Will be making both again for sure.

  20. Hi!Can i use this recipe as cupcakes?Do i need to change the flour to cake flour?Thanks!

    1. Hi! You could use it as cupcakes - I've never tried but I don't see why not. Check the timing as they'll be so much smaller. Also we don't have cake flour, so I've never tried it with these (I understand it's a mix of cornflour and flour) - the US equiv of what I used is normal AP flour. Hope that helps!

  21. I would like to know more about baking with ceramic tiles (on upper & lower oven racks) for even baking. I have seen bread makers recommend pizza stones, and others recommend lining your baking shelf with ceramic tiles, preheat well, and then bake cakes & biscuits right on the tiles. Do you think cakes benefit from this type of heat, or is it only good for bread doughs?

    1. I'm afraid I don't know very much about ceramic tiles - I don't own any and I've never used them. I'm not sure if it'd be particularly helpful for cakes - do let me know if you try. Sorry I can't be of more help.

  22. hey! do you have to add the yoghurt? or will something happen to the cake?

  23. Made this last night, it's so so good! I think I've eaten more than half the loaf all by myself in less than 24 hours...

  24. poiresauchocolat5 November 2013 at 16:30

    I'm so pleased you liked it!

  25. Amazing cake, turns so beautiful. Served it with grilled and caramelised pears and it was smashing.


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