Bringing you this Gluten-Free Pear, Hazelnut and Olive oil Cake on this Autumnal Day. This moist chocolate cake warmed by a hint of ginger, topped with pears and beautifully crunchy hazelnuts, will blow your mind with flavour. The olive oil provides the perfect, subtle fruity base to the delectable dessert.
This cake embodies everything that I love about Autumn. Apples usually take the limelight at this time of year, but for me, pears trump them tenfold. This recipe comes from Kelsey Siemens' new cookbook, The Farmer’s Daughter Bakes. She kindly gifted me a copy, and I have impatiently wanted to share this recipe with you.
Gluten-Free Pear, Hazelnut and Olive Oil Cake
First things first, this cake is gluten-free as it includes almond flour to replace all-purpose flour. So for all of you unable or unwilling to eat gluten, this one is for you!! On top of that, Kelsey uses olive oil instead of butter, resulting in an incredibly moist, well-rounded chocolate cake with beautiful nuances.
The chocolate cake would have been beautiful, with nothing more than a dusting of powdered sugar. That's how good this cake is. But the cake is taken to another level with the addition of seasonal pears and chopped hazelnuts.
The sweetness of the pears will always and forever more work perfectly with chocolate, and then the addition of roasted hazelnuts...seriously spectacular all together. I’m madly biased as hazelnuts are my favourite nut by far!
How to make the Gluten-Free Pear, Hazelnut and Olive Oil Cake
This is a surprisingly easy cake to make. Let's have a look at what the steps are.
- Melting the dark chocolate. This can be done using a bain mari or in the microwave. What’s a bain mari I hear you saying? It's a technique of placing the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Just make sure not to let the base of the bowl touch the water as the chocolate will seize, and there’s no coming back from that!! The steam from the simmering water will heat the bowl up and, in doing so, melt the chocolate. If you decide to melt the chocolate in the microwave, heat it on medium for 20 seconds or so bursts and stir the chocolate in intervals until it’s melted. Then set the chocolate aside whilst continuing on with the cake.
- Whip the egg whites. With no rising agent in the cake, the whipped egg whites provide the air in the cake, which gives it lightness and stops it from being stodgy. Once the egg whites have been whipped to firm peaks, spoon them out of the stand mixer bowl and set them aside.
- Beat the remaining cake ingredients in the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Bonus, there is no need to clean the stand mixer bowl used for the egg whites! Mix together the egg yolks, olive oil, cocoa powder, sugars, almond meal, vanilla extract, ginger and salt. Pour the chocolate slowly into the mixer whilst it’s running on low.
- Now fold the egg whites into the chocolate batter, Be careful not to over-mix otherwise, you could deflate the air in the egg whites, resulting in a denser cake.
- Pour the batter into the prepared springform tin, then slice your pears in half. Remove the core and then slice super thinly. Lay the pear slices on top of the cake and sprinkle the hazelnuts all around
Hints and Tips
- Allow the chocolate to cool before adding it to your egg yolk mix. You have to melt the choc as the first step, so it should have time to cool whilst you whip the egg whites and then mix the rest of the ingredients together. If you add the chocolate when it’s too hot, it could scramble the eggs. We definitely don’t want that!
- Make sure the egg whites are whipped to firm peaks. Whilst the yolks act as a binding agent and provide richness to the cake, it's the egg whites that provide lightness. There isn’t any rising agent such as baking powder or self-raising flour, so it's all on the egg whites to make the batter light. The chocolate batter is quite thick before you add the whites, and you need to take your time when folding them in. The batter becomes noticeably looser once they are incorporated.
- Slice those pears halves thinly. The thinner you slice the pears, the better they’ll cook through and ruffle as they cook on the edges. I suggest leaving the skin on - that’s where all the goodness lies- but it’s up to you.
The Farmer’s Daughter Bakes
Now let me tell you more about Kelsey’s new book. Firstly let's start off with the fact that she developed, styled, photographed and wrote this book. Currently going through the same process, I can tell you that this is an incredibly time-consuming task, and I totally take my hat off to anyone willing to take on such a huge project.
So, Kelsey’s family owns an Apple Orchard in the beautiful countryside of British Columbia. That's where you’ll find Kelsey in her day-to-day job. Following her Instagram feed, you see all the beautiful produce the farm specialises in. Living in central London, it's my daily dose of escapism to imagine a simple life of apple picking and pumpkin farming. (I totally realise it's a hell’a lot more work than just this!! But I can romanticise, can’t I?!)
How is the book split into chapters?
The book is directly linked to the seasonality of what grows on the Farm, and Kelsey shares much-loved family recipes alongside new exciting ones using all the Farms produce. She takes us on a year-long journey, splitting the chapters into seasons. Kelsey then clumps recipes by fruit within each chapter, making the book easy to navigate. For example, we start with Spring-time rhubarb and strawberries, with Summer favourites like berries, plums and cherries. We then move effortlessly to my favourite season of Autumn, filled with apple and pumpkin recipes, finished with Winter and a delicious array of recipes.
What do I love about this cookbook?
The Story Telling. What I love about the Farmer’s Daughter Bakes cookbook is the storytelling aspect that entwines and surrounds every recipe within the book. It's safe to say that I couldn’t live a more different life here in London Town than Kelsey in British Columbia. But for a moment, I am transported to Kelsey's past and present as she descriptively writes little anecdotes about her life on the Farm.
The Lifestyle Imagery. Alongside her words are an array of beautiful farm images Kelsey has photographed. Depicting the seasons through her photography is a skill that Kelsey has in abundance, and it's such a bonus to have this along with her beautiful recipes.
The Recipes! Kelsey’s recipes are a wonderful combination of homey and nostalgic to interesting and innovative.
Well-known bakes such as Cherry Turnovers, Apple Slab Pie and Linzer Cookies allow us to re-create well know classics. They provide comforting warmth to the book that wraps around us like a hot cup of tea.
The recipes that particularly catch my eye though are the ones with interesting flavour combinations, such as the Lavender-Lemon Loaf, Blueberry Basil Tart and Chestnut Yule Log Icebox Cake. It's a beautiful balance of familiar and fresh. The cookbook is finished off with a way for us to preserve the seasons to be enjoyed in the future. Lilac sugar, elderflower cordial, rhubarb compôte and lemon curd are to name a few ways.
As you can see - I am a big fan of her book and would one hundred per cent suggest that you allow this one to grace your bookshelves. What a great idea for a Christmas present for friends and family- a definite chance to bring a smile to their faces in these trying times that we’re living in!! I know this book will show signs of love through well-thumbed pages, smears of flour and drips throughout!
Gluten Free Pear, Hazelnut and Olive Oil Cake
- 130 g dark chocolate 70%, coarsely chopped
- 3 large eggs, divided into whites and yolks
- 160 ml olive oil
- 22 g cocoa powder
- 100 g granulated sugar
- 110 g brown sugar, firmly packed
- 145 g almond meal (ground almonds)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 3 ripe pears
- 60 g hazelnuts, toasted and peeled , coarsely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease a 23cm (9-inch) springform pan and line the base with parchment paper. Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, ensuring the bowl's bottom does not come into contact with the water. Once melted, remove the bowl from the heat and set it aside for 10 minutes and cool slightly.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the egg whites and whip until firm peaks form. Spoon the egg whites into a separate bowl and set them aside.
- Replace the attachment with the paddle attachment. In the same stand mixer bowl that you originally used (there is no need to wash it up), add the egg yolks, olive oil, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, almond meal, vanilla extract, ginger and salt and beat on medium until well combined. Turn the mixer down to low and slowly pour in the melted chocolate and mix.
- Add the egg whites into the chocolate batter and using a spatula, gently fold through until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
- Slice the pears in half, remove the stem and core and then slice each half thinly. Fan the pear slices on top of the batter and sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts around the pears. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove from the oven and let stand in the pan to cool for ten minutes before removing completely. Best served warm.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.