Sunday, October 01, 2006

Autumn Cake

My bible contains the gospel of Herme, Baluger, Mason, Flemming, and I faithfully worship through the recipes in their books. I sing my hymns with a choir of whirring kitchenaids, the high rhythmic soprano of beeping timers, the constant alto of zipping blenders, and the baritone chugging of churning ice cream machines. My prayers are physical acts beginning with the holy bodies of butter, sugar, flour, and eggs. Sharing recipes is a cornerstone in my church of cuisine. I take so much inspiration from those who spoke the good word before me, no to give back would be a sin.

That said, occasionally a dessert is born in my own kitchen, begat by my own two hands, that tempts me to sin. I delight in it's existence so highly that I think to myself, just this once, I'll keep it. I'll say "Doesn't every hard working pastry chef deserve one cake that no one else can make? One little cake to call my very own?"

This week, a cake that sings praises of Autumn has been my temptress. She has a dark body, bittersweet with chocolate, sweetened only with golden honey. Pears, the fat bodied angels of the season, crown this elusive lady. A dusting of sweet cinnamon finishes the cake before baking, bearing the soul of the chilling season to come.

The first time out of the oven, the kitchen staff crowded around, drawing long nasal breaths in silent prayer, humming quiet songs of praise for Her. Jen, our youngest, said finally with eyes turned upward, "it just soothes my soul".

My love for this child of mine can not be selfish, tempting though it may be. A sinner she will not make of me, and the recipe I leave to you. May it find praise on your own autumn table.

My cake is being served aside a hazelnut ice cream whose richness was tamed by a hint of cocoa powder, and a golden honey sabayon. However, a simple scattering of toasted hazelnuts is highly complimentary to the flavors of the cake.

Autumn Cake

9 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped small (66%)
2/3 cup cream
3 eggs, separated
1 tbsp cornstarch
60 grams honey (just under 1/4 cup)
3 pears (I am using Bartlett)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
toasted and chopped hazelnuts for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare an 8 inch springform pan by greasing the sides and lining the bottom with parchment. Sift the powdered sugar and cinnamon together and set aside.

2. Peel the pears, halve them and core them. Slice the pears in 1/4 inch slices, keeping only the taller pieces from the center. Alternately, for a more rustic looking cake, cut the cored pear into large chunks. Set aside.

3. Place the chocolate in a large bowl. Scald the cream and pour it over the chocolate. Let this sit for one minute, then stir until even. If the chocolate has not melted completely, continue to melt it over a double boiler or in the microwave on 5 second intervals.

4. With a whisk, mix the cornstarch into the chocolate, avoiding any lumps. When this is mixed in well, whisk in the egg yolks until even.

5. In the bowl of a kitchen aid, place the honey and egg whites, and whip to stiff peaks.

6. With a whisk, fold in 1/3 of the whites to the chocolate mixture until even. Fold the remaining whites into the chocolate with a spatula in 2 additions until even. Transfer the batter to the springform pan and spread evenly.

7. Arrange the pear slices, fat side towards the edge, overlapping in a circular pattern around the outside of the cake. Dust the cake with the cinnamon sugar evenly.

8. Bake the cake for 40 to 50 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a knife into the center of the cake where the chocolate is left exposed. The knife should come out clean.

9. Let the cake cool to room temperature for at least 3 hours. At this point the cake can be eaten, but I prefer to let it set in the fridge overnight.


Blogger Seattle Tall Poppy said...


This blog entry is just divine! I'm amazed...and inspired. Thank you.


October 02, 2006 5:59 AM  
Anonymous Anita said...

I love this entry and your cake is heavenly looking - I'd sing a paean to it!

October 02, 2006 8:48 PM  
Anonymous peabody said...

Looks fantastic.

October 02, 2006 8:52 PM  
Anonymous Malini said...

A flourless chocolate cake topped with pears and cinnamon sugar, Dana, WOW!

Comfort cake with a touch of class!

October 05, 2006 8:01 PM  
Anonymous David said...

My carnality is inspired! Where's my whip?


October 09, 2006 2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

simply amazing...
I love it!
well done! =)

October 15, 2006 2:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will try the cake!

- Steven Burda, MBA

October 17, 2006 10:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"it's existence" -> "its existence".

October 18, 2006 3:57 PM  
Blogger Pig wot flies said...

I cooked this for by birthday a week or so ago and it was heavenly! Thanks Dana!

October 23, 2006 3:10 AM  

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