This “cake” occupies a nebulous area somewhere between dessert and cornbread. Almond meal, whole-wheat pastry flour, and cornmeal add a toothsome bite to the soft, sweet pears. I brought this to a potluck as dessert, but I liked it even better when I served it for brunch alongside a frittata and baked oatmeal.
You can use a 9-in glass pie pan or a springform, depending on how you want to serve it. I prefer the pie pan, but I shot the photos after trying it in the spring form. Just be sure to bake it on the center rack of the oven to make sure the top cooks through and the bottom doesn’t burn.
Japan notes: Western pears can be a little tricky to find in certain regions and are not available year-round; the biggest producing regions are Tohoku and Koshinetsu, especially Niigata. Almond flour, whole-wheat pastry flour, corn meal are usually available in the baking section of supermarkets. (See notes for the translated ingredient list.)
Adapted from Marie Simmons’ “Pear and Almond Cake,” via California Olive Ranch.
For the cake
3/4 cup (g) whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup (61 g) coarse-ground yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup (47 g) almond flour, or “finely ground roasted unsalted almonds with skins”
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 large ripe pear – Barlett or Anjou
For the topping
2 TBSP almond flour
2 TBSP sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 9-in. (22-cm) spring form pan OR 1 9-in glass pie pan
Hand mixer OR stand mixer
1. Preheat (yonetsu, 余熱) the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease the spring form or pie pan with olive oil.
2. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients and stir with a whisk until well blended. Set aside.
3. With the mixer of your choice, beat the eggs in a large bowl. Gradually add the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.
4. While continuing to beat the egg mixture, add the vanilla and then add the olive oil gradually in a slow steady stream until thoroughly blended.
5. Turn off the beater, then use a silicon spatula to fold in the flour mixture ~1 cup at a time until thoroughly blended.
6. Scrap the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the spatula.
7. Leaving the skin of the pear on, remove the stem and seeds. Cut into ~12 thin slices. Arrange the slices apinwheel design on the surface of the cake, gently pressing the slices into the batter.
8. Whisk together the ingredients for the topping and sift (or sprinkle) evenly on top of the cake.
9. On the upper-middle rack of the oven, bake for 30 to 35 minutes or a tester comes out mostly clean, the cake is golden and pulling away slightly from the edges.
10. Serve at room temperature; store any leftovers in the refrigerator.
*Japanese ingredient translation
whole wheat pastry flour (okashiyô no komugiko,お菓子の小麦粉)
coarse-ground yellow cornmeal (kôn gurittsu, コーングリッツ)
almond flour, or “finely ground roasted unsalted almonds with skins”
baking powder (bêkingu paudâ, ベーキングパウダー)
coarse salt (arajio, 荒塩)
nutmeg (natsumegu, ナツメグ)
sugar (guranyûtô, グラニュー糖)
egg (tamago, 卵)
vanilla extract (banira essensu, バニラエッセンス)
almond extract (âmondo essensu, アーモンドエッセンス)
olive oil (orîbu oiru, オリーブオイル)
Western pear (yonashi, 洋ナシ)
A stand mixer (okigata taipu no mikisâ, 置き型タイプのミキサー) or handmixer (hando mikisâ, ハンドミキサー)
A springform pan (supuringu fômu dekokêki gata, スプリングフォームデコケーキ型)