Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Pear, chocolate and yogurt cake and nostalgia

Bolo de iogurte, pera e chocolate

To me it is fun to go through my old photos for the Instagram #tbt: I don’t have many of them, but the ones I have always put a smile on my face. Weeks ago I posted a photo of my pre-adolescent self on my great-aunt Angelica’s kitchen:


This is the kitchen where I baked my first cake, and where I started to learn how to cook. I have so many wonderful memories from there, I was so happy in that house! I used to spend my weekends there to escape the awful and sad environment I had at home. My aunty and her daughter, my cousin Soraia, filled me with love, support, guidance… They helped me become who I am today. I was feeling so nostalgic with that photo that I felt like baking a cake! <3


Ever since baking the first variation of the Epicurious’ yogurt cake it has been inevitable: when I think of baking a cake I think of that perfect and so versatile recipe. Easy to make, minimal washing up, no mixer required, simple ingredients… and the result is always a delicious, tender and moist cake! I have made so many different versions of it that I lost track of how many.


Decided to create yet another version of that recipe, I gathered all the basic ingredients and reached out for some small pears I had purchased a couple of days before: they were not as sweet as I’d expected, so a bit of heat would do them good. I love pears with nutmeg, so I added a bit to the cake batter as well. While preparing the cake pan, I kept thinking of what would go well with the pears and dark chocolate came to mind: I chopped some, keeping the pieces a bit larger than I usually would.


The flavors matched perfectly, the melted chocolate pieces inside the cake are a gift in each bite and the pear cores on top are there just because I wanted to make the cake more beautiful: you can skip that step if you want, no worries.


Pear, chocolate and yogurt cake

another version I created for Epicurious’ perfect French yogurt cake


3 small pears (220g in total)

1 ½ cups (210g) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon table salt

¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (175g in total) granulated sugar

¾ cup (180g) plain unsweetened yogurt

½ cup (120ml) flavorless vegetable oil

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

100g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (you can use chips if you prefer) – I used one with 64% cocoa solids


Preheat oven to 180C/350°F. Brush with oil a 6-cup capacity loaf pan (22x11cm/8.5x4.5in), line with baking paper leaving an overhang in the two longer sides and brush the paper as well.


Core the pears, remove the seeds and cut into about 1cm-cubes – in case you want to decorate the cake as I decorated mine, slice 2 of the 3 pears vertically close to the core, leaving the cores and the stems intact. Chop the remaining parts of pears in cubes.


In a medium bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.


In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, yogurt, oil, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Fold in reserved dry ingredients keeping 1 tablespoon in the bowl – if batter is too lumpy, whisk for a few seconds; do not overmix or the cake will become tough. Add chocolate to the bowl with the remaining dry ingredients, mix well, then fold into the batter – dusting the chocolate chips/chunks with the flour mixture will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cake.


Pour the batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. If decorating the cake as I did, arrange the cores on top of the batter and press slightly. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick inserted into center of the cake comes out clean.


Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Carefully and using the paper as a guide, remove cake from pan and transfer to the rack to cool completely.


The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.


Serves 8-10

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