Pears are a gorgeous fruit. I find they are set apart from apples because they poach wonderfully and retain a bit more of their texture, and quite a bit more of their composure. (Last time I poached apples, I looked away for a bit too long and they disintegrated into a pulpy and emotional mess.)
This is the sort of poached pear cake I’ve seen in various places, on the cover of a cookbook and on a blog or two. It looks quite stunning–in this version, the pears are poached in black tea, set in a rather strongly-flavoured buckwheat cake and served with a black tea and poaching liquid caramel. All in all, it was quite alright, but the black tea motif was difficult to actually identify. The buckwheat cake is dense and very buckwheat-y. I made it not very sweet at all, so the caramel, rather than being cloying (though it will become cloying if you eat enough!) is a pleasant source of additional sweetness.
However, structurally, the loaf wasn’t particularly impressive. This cake would make for a rather poor brick, and is not recommended for construction of any sort, having a hidden weak centre. The pears shrunk a bit during baking–as you can see in the pictures, they’ve hunched down in their respective little loaf hollows with a fair amount of wiggle room. They also didn’t cling to the surrounding loaf. I suppose I wasn’t really expecting them too anyways, but they may have had the pears been drier. As a result of this, it was also a bit difficult to keep the pear slice as part of the loaf slice without the two falling apart. (Cake slices are not recommended for use as shingles).
Now, on the cake side of things, it was actually surprisingly fun to eat a slice of cake with a thick slab of poached pear in the middle.
Does the black tea flavour or poaching liquid flavour come out in the caramel? I can’t tell, which I’m pretty sure means no, it doesn’t. It might be a bit more bitter though, which to me is a rather nice thing. Next time I would use spice-poached pears and a spice-infused caramel instead–perhaps some stronger flavours would come out better.black tea and caramel buckwheat pear loaf
black tea and cardamom poached pears
~ 3 c water, or enough water to partially fill the saucepan you use
1 tsp black tea leaves
3 green cardamom pods, cracked
1/4 c granulated sugar
Heat the water in a saucepan just big enough to fit the three pears. Put the black tea in a tea ball, and add this to the water, along with the cardamom and sugar.
Peel the pears and place into the simmering water. Cover and let simmer gently–I went a wrote an essay, okay, so just a paragraph of an essay, during this time–for a while. Check the pears with a knife, it should be tender all the way through. Remove the tea ball (if it seems as though it is getting too strong, you may want to remove the tea earlier). Turn off the heat and let the pears cool in the poaching liquid.
Vaguely based off of nothing in particular.
75 g soft butter
75 g granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp lemon zest
80 g buckwheat flour
125 g all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
100 mL thick Greek yoghurt
150 mL milk
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a loaf pan with a parchment sling and butter any unlined surfaces.
Cream butter and sugar together, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the vanilla, lemon zest, and cardamom.
Separately, whisk together flours, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the yoghurt and milk.
Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients to the butter mixture, mixing until just combined.
Slice the bottom off of each of the poached pears so that they can stand up. Place them in the loaf pan. Carefully spoon the cake batter around the pears and evenly spread it out.
Bake the loaf until an inserted skewer is removed clean. It would go faster if your pears are at room temperature instead of cold, like mine were.
black tea caramel glaze
Adapted from Dash of Texas. Makes a generous amount of glaze–more than you’ll use! I put in 1/4 tsp salt. At first I thought I put in too much, but then I liked it with the cake. I would recommend putting in a bit less if you’ll be eating it with other things, and then sprinkle some addition flaky salt overtop if necessary.
80 mL heavy cream
1 black tea bag
1/4 c granulated sugar
2 tbsp pear poaching liquid
2 tbsp butter (~28 g)
kosher salt, I put in around 1/4 tsp
Heat the cream until scalded. Put in the tea bag and set aside to let it steep 20 minutes or so. Squeeze the tea bag to remove any excess cream. Pass the cream through a strainer and measure out 60 mL (1/4 c) that will be used for the caramel. I had just enough.
Place the sugar in a small saucepan and start it off with the poaching liquid, heating over medium-high heat until bubbling. Continue to cook until the sugar is a nice amber colour. Add the butter and whisk in, then remove from the heat and add the cream slowly, whisking constantly. Lastly, whisk in a bit of salt.
Transfer to a bowl and let cool before using.
When you’re ready to serve the cake, drizzle the top with caramel. Slice into thick pieces and serve with additional glaze if desired.