Free From Chocolate and Pear Cake
There is a part of me that has always been a little bit scared of free from recipes. Perhaps it is the fear that whatever I am making is going to fall so short of my idea of a good recipe or because, having been lucky enough to be able to eat gluten and dairy I expect sponges to be delicate and light, icing to be smooth and creamy, bread to be chewy. However, this chocolate and pear cake has fulfilled all my demands of a good cake. While slightly denser than your average chocolate sponge, I was surprised by the rise in the oven. My first forkful was indeed light and delicate enough for me to deem this cake a resounding success. The cocoa powder gives such an intense chocolate flavour that it is difficult to believe it didn’t contain at least a bar of chocolate! The olive oil made the whole sponge beautifully moist (and no, it does not taste of olive oil).
This whole foray into free from baking stemmed from a client requiring a gluten and dairy free dinner party. I would never (ever) serve something I wouldn’t be excited to eat. So I experimented and landed of course with a Nigella recipe. Nigella who would also never serve anything she didn’t adore. Her chocolate and olive oil cake (find the original here: https://www.nigella.com/recipes/chocolate-olive-oil-cake) nearly ticked all the boxes for me for the job. Yet I did feel this recipe was a little simple, needing a little excitement and surprise to make it dinner party worthy. My original idea for this dinner was poached pears – so, why not combine the two? The pear, poached until tender in a sticky vanilla syrup brings a floral freshness, contrasting with the dark chocolate in the sponge.
Pears in particular, are a such an under appreciated fruit. Possibly because they are sold rock hard and then turn into mush before you can eat them. However, poached they become a whole different beast. So I urge you, bake this chocolate and pear cake. Doesn’t matter if you’re gluten intolerant or not, it is delicious!
Secrets to Success:
- Cream the oil well with the sugar, then add the eggs. You want to beat in as much air as you can as the cake has no flour so the rise is less
- Use williams or concorde pears if you can – conference pears can be a bit grainy in texture
- Make sure you use real vanilla for poaching, vanilla extract is only ever good for baking
- Use good quality cocoa as this is where the chocolate flavour in the cake is coming from!