Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Jake Cake: a pareve pear and chocolate cake

Last Sukkot our friend Kobi served us pareve (non-dairy) pear and pecan cake that was really good.
 Since we are always on the lookout for decent pareve desserts, it became part of our rotation.  It is easy to make, and very forgiving.   It began to morph into something rather different, driven by the affinity of pears and chocolate for each other.  If you are not in the mood for chocolate, you can leave out the chocolate and cocoa and will have something resembling the original pear cake.  But we generally prefer it with the chocolate. Since Kobi occasionally uses "Brother Jake" as a monniker, this not too distant descendant of the original cake is named for him as "Jake Cake."

Jake Cake

Ingredients:

Fruit and sugar layers
  • 3-4 firm pears
  • 3-4 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet pareve chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup pecans (ideally raw halves, but toasted bits are acceptable too)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 T cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably Ceylon
  • 1-3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Wet ingredients:
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 7 ounces (volume) white sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 ounces apple or orange juice or almond or coconut milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Dry ingredients
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Oil or spray a 8 x 13 or similar sized baking dish. 
  3. Peel and quarter pears, remove cores, and slice thin and place in bottom of casserole.
  4. Combine brown sugar, cocoa and cinnamon in a small bowl (best done with your fingers).
  5. Mix the wet ingredients in one bowl, and the dry ingredients in another 
  6. Mix dry and wet ingredients, stirring lightly to combine to make a batter. Do no overmix.
  7. Top pears with half of the brown sugar mixture, and top with chopped chocolate and half the pecans.
  8. Pour on the batter.  This is best done by spooning on dollops of the batter on top of the other ingredients, and then smoothing them together with a plastic spatula.
  9. Top with the remaining pecans.
  10. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil onto the remaining brown sugar mixture, and mix together with your hands until it is dark brown and shiny.  Add up to 2 additional tablespoons of oil if necessary. Sprinkle this over the ingredients in the pan.
  11. Bake 40-55 minutes, testing with sharp knife or skewer to see that it comes out clean. (Or at least relatively clean -- no batter should adhere, but chocolate doesn't matter.) The precise timing depends on the shape and size of the pan and the exact temperature of your oven and the ingredients. 
  12. Serves 12, and is very nice warm with vanilla ice cream or coconut sorbet. 



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