Hazelnut, Pear & Espresso Cake
“Fruit and nuts have made happy partners for centuries, and this cake is no exception. The layered, thinly sliced pears sitting on top are so inviting and bring a gentle sweetness to the nutty, coffee cake. Hazelnuts, unlike most other nuts, can actually dry out a cake very quickly so I’ve simply folded them into the batter instead of grinding them down.” — Benjamina Ebuehi
Makes 1 round 9-inch cake. Recipe is from "The New Way to Cake" by Benjamina Ebuehi
⅔ cup blanched hazelnuts, plus extra to decorate
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
4 Bosc or Conference pears, divided
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease the bottom and sides of a round 9-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. Toast the hazelnuts on a baking tray in the oven for 10 minutes, and then leave them to cool. Turn the oven down to 350 F.
3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla until combined. Stir in the flour, baking powder and espresso powder and mix well before pouring in the butter and combining until smooth.
4. Peel, core and finely diced 2 pears and roughly chop three-quarters of the hazelnuts. Gently fold them into the batter and pour into the prepared pan. Cut the remaining 2 pears in half, with the skin left on, and use a teaspoon or melon baller to spoon out the cores. Slice them thinly and then place them on top of the cake, overlapping a few at a time. Sprinkle on the remaining hazelnuts. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cake is well risen and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.