When I look out the window, it is hard to imagine that Fall officially starts tomorrow. We have two seasons here more or less, Warm and Hot. Christmas celebrated in a summer dress, well, "it ain’t fittin'. It jes' ain’t fittin'" But there are signs that cannot be mistaken. Night falls earlier, the wind has finally picked up, the pecans are weighing the tree branches down. The light is now giving cold blue undertones, I put the diffuser back up in the studio, my shooting schedule has changed. Most importantly, the oven is buzzing with tarts, custards and cakes like these Double Chocolate And Pear Cakes, a gluten free adaptation of my mother’s recipe.
I like spontaneity as much as I like certain family rituals. One that my folks have back home is to get together for tea time everyday around four or five o’clock. Even now that my grandmother is gone, my mother makes the same one yard walk to my grandfather’s and continues the tradition. One of my fondest memories is always this moment shared around their dining room table right when it is getting darker outside and we cozy up around a slice of cake and a hot cup of tea and chat.
As a kid, I’d sit quietly and listen to a mix of conversations ranging from politics and literature to the more basic questions of what to cook for the next family get together. As a teenager I started taking part by bringing treats of my own like madeleines and langues de chats. As an adult, every time I go home, I just sit quietly and listen, literally captivated by every word they say, every event or family member they talk about. I try to encapsulate those precious moments for the long strips of time I spent away from them.
Comes Fall when my "cozying-it-up" starts to kick in, I make this cake every weekend so that we can have tea and cake like they do back home. I have no idea where my mom got the original recipe, I just found several copies of it in different recipe tins around the house. I love it for the simple reason that you can make it your own with the flavor that you like. October might be cardamom and pistachios, November might give way to almond and vanilla while December might see some colorful candied fruits. Right now it’s pears and chocolate.
After successfully adapting a chocolate tart recipe earlier this month to a gluten version, I thought my favorite cake would be next to become gluten free. The cake was not difficult to adapt using different flours and eggs and butter are there to help ingredients bind and raise properly. I mean, it’s hard to mess things up when there are eggs and butter. I added cocoa powder and melted dark chocolate to the batter and topped each cake with slices of ripe pears. I knew the flours could lend a different, sandy texture to the finished cakes so I slightly underbaked them so they’d remain moist for a couple of days.
I purposely left out any kind of spice this time but I am thinking cardamom for the next cup of tea. I also want to try adapting this gorgeous Olive Oil Cake by Connie and these cute Nutella pound cakes by Dana. I can tell Fall is here…
Double Chocolate And Pear Cakes:
Makes five 3-inch cakes (I used these liners) or one loaf cake.
1 stick (113gr)unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
2 oz (60gr) semisweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
1/4 cup (60ml) buttermilk
1/3 cup (60gr) sweet rice flour
1/3 cup (60gr) sorghum flour (you could use amaranth or quinoa)
OR 1 cup (125gr) all purpose flour instead, if not going gluten free
3 tablespoons (15gr) cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 pear, ripe, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the center. Grease cupcake liners or a loaf pan and place them on a baking sheet. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time, scarping the sides of the bowl in between each addition. Add the melted chocolate and beat until smooth. Add the buttermilk and beat, still on low, until incorporated. Add the flours, cocoa and baking powders and beat for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and beat for a minute. Pour the mixture into your prepared pan(s) and place the slices of pears on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes for a loaf, 20-25 minutes for individual cakes. Check at the earliest baking time indicated as each oven runs differently and you want to keep the cake(s) moist inside.