The dense, nutty flavor of this cake from Zoe Nathan's Huckleberry reminds me of the skin of a Bosc pear: tan and textured, but ultimately yielding to something sweet. And it's no coincidence that this cake boasts three pears' worth of fruit. They're used to separate a layer of oat and almond flour crumble, and a wheat germ and rye flour-flavored cake. It's just as homey and welcoming as you'd expect.
Tips: There's a decided lack of spice in the components of this cake. Not pepper, of course, but a hint of cinnamon or nutmeg would have been divine. I suggest adding anywhere from half a teaspoon to a full teaspoon of cinnamon to the crumble topping (to taste), or around a quarter teaspoon of freshly shaved nutmeg.
The thickly sliced pears weren't the easiest to wrangle, either—I'd slice them thinner next time in order for them to spread more evenly, and not sink into the batter. The rustic appeal of roughly chopped fruit isn't lost on me, but might be tricky when it's time to pour three pears' worth into a pan of batter.
Tweaks: Right before plating the cake, you're meant to turn it upside down out of the pan, then right-side-up again, with the fruit and crumble layer on top. Would putting the pear layer on the bottom of the cake bake up the same way? A pear crumble upside-down cake sounds very appealing, but we didn't get to try it this time around. Regardless, the syrup that melted out of the pears blended beautifully with the crumble.
Excerpted from Huckleberry by Zoe Nathan (Chronicle Books). Copyright (c)2014. Photographs by Matt Armendariz.
- Yield:Makes 1 10-inch cake
- Active time: 40 minutes
- Total time:2 hours
- 1/2 cup/110 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons/55 g almond flour
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons/20 g rolled oats
- 1/4 cup/50 g granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup/30 g whole-wheat flour
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons wheat germ, toasted
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup/20 g sliced almonds
- 3/4 cup/170 g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
- 1 cup/200 g granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups/160 g all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup/55 g wheat germ, toasted
- 1/4 cup/25 g almond flour
- 3 tablespoons rye flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup/240 ml whole plain yogurt
- Zest of 1 orange, fruit reserved
- 3 pears, peeled and thickly sliced
To make the topping: In a bowl, combine the butter, almond flour, oats, granulated sugar, whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, wheat germ, brown sugar, salt, and sliced almonds and blend with your fingertips until homogenous. Refrigerate until needed.
To make the cake: Position a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 350°F/180°C. Line and grease a 10-in/25-cm round cake pan or springform pan.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Incorporate the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl well. Pause mixing and add the all-purpose flour, wheat germ, almond flour, rye flour, baking powder, baking soda, yogurt, and orange zest. Mix cautiously, just until incorporated. Do not overmix!
Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and cover evenly with the pears. Top with the crumble, allowing a little fruit to poke through. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool for about 15 minutes in the pan; then squeeze the orange over the entire cake.
Place a flat plate on top of the cake and pan. Carefully invert the cake onto the plate by flipping both upside down. Then lift the pan off the cake. Gently pull the parchment from every nook and cranny of the cake, being careful not to break the cake. Rest your serving plate on the bottom of the cake and turn the cake right-side up onto the plate.
This is best served the day it’s made but keeps, tightly wrapped, at room temperature, for up to 2 days.