Black Sesame Pear Tea Cake

This post has a disclaimer, which is, if you make this cake, and it sinks in the middle, don’t blame me.  I’ve made this cake twice, and it happened to me both times.

Obviously it wasn’t such a bad sinkhole that the cake was ruined, but it was, how shall I put this…less than pretty.  Hence all the pictures of evenly cut slices.  You don’t want to see the whole loaf.  It’s kinda of a mess.

But it’s a delicious mess.  Which is truly the only reason why I’m posting about a dessert that ended up ugly twice.  I think the sesame is the culprit, but I love the flavor of those delicate little seeds so much, I refuse to make this cake without them.

When I first saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, I knew I had to make it.  Even though you need a spice grinder (in technicality only because no, I do not own a spice grinder.) Instead, I used my mortar and pestle to grind the sesame seeds by hand.  Maybe that’s why it fell in?  To avoid buying a spice grinder or risking a sinking cake, you could buy black sesame paste at your local Asian market.

Why I am just thinking of that now?!?!?  Okay, seriously, this cake is so good, I’m going to go out and buy sesame paste and try it again.  The combination of black sesame, almond flour and pear chunks may sound strange, but it works.  It works so well I want this cake on hand at all times.  It works so well I implore you to make this cake even though it’s ugly.  I promise it’ll be worth your while.

Black Sesame Pear Tea Cake

Adapted from Bon Appetit March 2012

Makes one 9X5” loaf cake

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 cup almond flour or almond meal

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

2 Tbsp plus ½ cup black sesame seeds (or sub in ½ cup black sesame paste)

1 ½ cups sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

¾ cup buttermilk

1 medium firmly ripe Bosc pear, peeled, cored and cut into ¼” cubes

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a 9×5” loaf pan, or six 4×2” mini loaf pans and set aside.

Whisk 1 ½ cups flour, next four ingredients, and 2 Tbsp sesame seeds in a medium bowl.  Grind remaining sesame seeds in a spice mill (or mortar and pestle) to form a thick paste, about 2 minutes.  You can also try substituting ½ cup store-bought black sesame paste here.

Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until well combined, 2-3 minutes.  Add sesame paste and beat until blended, 1-2 minutes.  Add egg and egg yolk.  Beat until pale and fluffy, another 3-4 minutes.  Beat the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Toss pears with remaining 2 Tbsp flour in a small bowl and fold into the batter.

Spoon batter into prepared pan(s) and smooth out the top.  Sprinkle the top with brown sugar or turbinado sugar.

Bake until a tester comes out clean when inserted into center, about 1 hour 40 minutes for the large loaf and 45-55 minutes for small loaves.  Let cool in pans on a wire rack, then invert and serve.


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