My fondest memories of my mother involve her feeding me, which I guess is normal. I can still visualize my mother cutting pears into segments over a bowl, endearingly slurping them, and passing the bowl to her children. Those were Nashi pears – they’re the crisp, fresh Asian pears that are more akin to apples. I always preferred the buttery, rich william and conference pears as a child, which were a rare and extortionate treat in China back in the days.
I remember my mother cooking a lot when I was quite young. She had these projects where she would just continuously cook the same thing until she mastered it – like sourdough bread, or yogurt, or biscotti. Sadly though, as soon as she believed she had achieved perfection, she would stop. Then the worst part is, after a few years, you ask her for that amazing cake she used to bake, she’d have forgotten how to make it.
She doesn’t really do any baking anymore, but this pear cake made me think of her. This is a pear and citrus cake that goes fabulously with your afternoon tea, or your morning coffee. It also remains good for a few days because of the almond flour, so it doesn’t dry out if you wrap it up properly.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
3 small williams pears
225g butter, room temperature
Zest of 1 lime
Zest of 1/2 orange
100g candied citrus peel
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
60g creme fraiche
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a loaf tin.
Have a large bowl of cold water ready. Peel and core the pears, and drop them immediately in the bowl of water to avoid discoloration. Dice one of the pears into 1cm pieces. Cut the other two pears in half lengthways. Leave everything in the bowl of water.
Pulse the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a food processor until almonds are finely ground.
Cream the butter, sugar and citrus zests together in a large bowl with electric beaters (or with a stand mixer) until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Beat for a further five minutes until fluffy.
Reduce the speed and add the dry flour ingredients, then the creme fraiche. With a soft spatula, fold in the candied citrus peel and the drained pear pieces.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the batter, and arrange the cut pear halves on top, with the cut side up, and press them into the batter.
Place in the oven and bake for about 60 – 70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake and comes out clean. Leave to cool completely before removing from the pan.