chocolate hazelnut pear cake

I saw a recipe for a chocolate and hazelnut upside down pear cake in the Easter Coles magazine. I bookmarked the recipe and waited until pear season rolled around then I reworked the recipe a little to make this chocolate hazelnut pear loaf cake.
You start the process by poaching whole pears in a cinnamon and star anise spiced sugar syrup. I poached a few tiny corella pears and as I don't like to find any surprises in my cakes, I cored the pears first using a small knife and a long handled teaspoon.
The original recipe added cream to the poaching liquid to make a caramel sauce but I thought it tasted very nice the way it was and just reduced the poaching liquid to create a pear flavoured syrup. You can poach the pears some time in advance as they keep well in the fridge.
I topped the cake with a few hazelnut halves but they sank during the baking process so I probably wouldn't do that again.
As the cake batter melts during the baking process the whole pears will keel over a little. At the 30 minute mark you can reposition the pears and they'll stay put for the rest of the baking process.
Here's the recipe for you which makes an 8 x 22 cm loaf cake, measured from the base. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C. 
Chocolate pear hazelnut loaf cake
½ cup (75g) plain flour 
Scant ¼ cup (35g) self-raising flour
2 tbs (16g) cocoa powder
Pinch salt
¼ tsp bicarb soda 
cup (40g) hazelnut meal
125 g room temperature unsalted butter, chopped 
cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
¼ cup full fat yoghurt
Chopped hazelnuts, toasted, to serve
Double cream, optional 
Caramel pears 
3 small firm pears, peeled and cored, stems left intact
½ cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick or quill
1 whole star anise
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Caramel pears
Trim the end of the pears so they will sit flat. Place the pears and sugar in a medium saucepan. Pour over enough water to cover the pears. Add the cinnamon, star anise and vanilla. Place over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low then cover the pears with a disc of baking paper to help keep pears submerged in the poaching liquid. Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the interior of the pears are tender when tested with the tip of a knife.

Carefully use a metal spoon to transfer the pears to a heatproof bowl. Bring syrup in the pan to the boil over high heat and cook until the sauce reduces by three-quarters. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool then transfer the pear caramel to a heatproof bowl and place in the fridge for 1 hour to chill.

Preheat oven to 170°C, conventional. Grease and line the base and sides of a small loaf pan with baking paper. Sift the combined flour, cocoa powder, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a small bowl then stir through the hazelnut meal. Set to one side. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the hazelnut mixture to the batter and stir to combine. Add the yoghurt and stir again until fully combined. 
Spoon the mixture into the pan and smooth the surface. Carefully place the pears into the batter, evenly spaced. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated 170° C oven then reposition the pears which will have shifted in the batter. Bake for a further 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Set aside in the pan for 30 minutes to cool slightly before turning out onto a rack to completely cool.
Slice the cake and drizzle the slice with some of the pear caramel. Sprinkle with the hazelnuts and serve with a dollop cream if desired. 

I shared the cake with the neighbours and they gave it the thumbs up. The pear caramel sauce was amazing.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


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