Streams

Swedish Pear and Almond Cream Cake

The Leonard Lopate Show

Monday, December 21, 2009

Serves : 8 to 10

Baking Time: 50 to 60 minutes

 

This unusual cake was inspired by one I tasted in Sweden.

 

During baking, a layer of almond cream and pear sinks almost to the bottom and becomes the top when unmolded. The pear adds luscious moisture to the crumb; the almond cream imbues it with lovely flavor. I especially love this cake served shortly after cooling, when the crust is still crunchy and the crumb is at its softest. However, it is still delicious for at least two days after baking.

 

Almond Cream Filling

Makes: 14 tablespoons

 

3 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon of almond paste

¼ cup plus 1½ teaspoons of superfine sugar

½ stick of unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces

1 large egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten

½ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

1½ tablespoons of bleached all-purpose flour

 

(Note: To prevent separation while mixing, the butter and eggs must not be cold. Almond cream thins if overmixed and during baking will melt into the batter and prevent the pears

from sinking adequately into the cake.)

 

Make the Almond Cream filling: In a food processor, pulse the almond paste and sugar until the almond paste is in fine particles. Add the butter and pulse until incorporated.

Scrape down the sides. Add the egg, vanilla, and flour and pulse just until incorporated.

It will be a soft cream. (To make in a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the almond paste and sugar on low speed. Add the butter and continue mixing until incorporated. Add the egg, vanilla, and flour and mix just until incorporated.) The cream can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week and frozen for up to 1 month.

 

Batter

1 Bartlett pear

2 teaspoons of lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 large egg, at room temperature

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

²⁄³ cup, divided of sour cream

1½ teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

2 cups cake flour(or bleached all-purpose flour) sifted into the cup and leveled off

1 cup of superfine sugar

½ teaspoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon of baking soda

¾ teaspoon of salt

1½ sticks of unsalted butter

 

Special Equipment: One 10-cup fluted metal tube pan coated with baking spray with flour.

 

Preheat the oven: Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C (325°F/160°C if using a dark pan).

 

Prepare the Pear Slices: Just before mixing the batter, peel, core, and slice the pear about 1/8 inch thick (about 1½ cups/7 ounces/200 grams). Sprinkle with the lemon juice.

 

Mix the Liquid Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, yolks, 3 tablespoons of the sour cream, and the vanilla just until lightly combined.

 

Make the Batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining sour cream and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1½ minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

 

Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan. With a small metal spatula, smooth the surface evenly and make a continuous shallow depression about ¼ inch deep in a circle around the middle of the batter; this is so the almond cream won’t touch the edges of the pan or center tube. Spoon the almond cream into the depression. Top with two overlapping rows of pear slices.

 

Bake the Cake: Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted between the tube and the side comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.

 

Cool and Unmold the Cake: Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the cake by jiggling it up and down until it moves slightly. Invert it onto a wire rack that has been coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Cool completely.

 

Meanwhile, wash and dry the pan. Place it on top of the cake and invert the cake into the pan. Place a serving plate on top and reinvert the cake onto the plate.

 

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