Friday, March 9, 2012

Black Sesame Pear Cake

Maybe you are looking at that there picture above and thinking "well, Liz, today are you going to show us how to make cement?", you know, all snarky like. Normally, my answer would be something along the lines of "No, silly! Because cement, you see, does not taste good". However, much to little ole' frowny face me, this cake did not taste good. Really, the only thing that distinguished this loaf cake from a brick sized chunk of cement was the fact that it was not hard, but actually quite moist. So maybe it's more like wet cement.

Ok, I agree, that was a truly terrible analogy. It's just that this little loaf cake here, it really disappointed me. I haven't even had time to read through the entirety of my March Bon Appetit (ok, ok, maybe it's because I can't put this book down. What? Sometimes I am a lemming. And it's good, I will so admit it, it's good).  But even so with the lack of time or whatever you want to call it, I decided this recipe was going to happen.  Which meant trips to 2 different grocery stores looking for black sesame seeds, a few minutes where I almost bought toasted white sesame seeds instead (in my defense, they were black) and an $8 dollar bag of almond meal.  So, it had to be good, right?

And then it wasn't.  It was woodsy.  With basically zero sweetness.  The almond meal, well, I lost it.  And all the pears sank to the bottom, all sad-like.  I almost felt bad that that was how they had to meet their fate.  It was the black sesame seed show all the way.  The cake was as deep brown as a rich chocolate cake.  Had you not known, it would have looked like a delicious chocolate cake.  I was going to bring in leftovers to work, but didn't want to be the person who inflicted non-chocolate things on people expecting a big mouthful of chocolate cake loveliness.  So I didn't.  Because that's just mean.  Instead, the majority of this cake ended up in the trash.  And that makes me sad.

I did learn a few things.  Black sesame seeds should be used sparingly.  Which also means that grinding up half a cup of them and mixing them into a cake is not a good idea.  And I learned... hmm, would you look at that.  Maybe that was the only lesson that I learned here.  But it's still a good one, right?

In defense of BA, this recipe and black sesame seeds everywhere, this recipe got good reviews, by food editors and other random internet personalities alike.  It just didn't by me.  So venture on below, but only at your own risk.  Me?  I'm going back to an oldy, but a goody...

Black Sesame Pear Cake
From March 2012's Bon Appetit

The magazine calls for 1/2 cup of black sesame seeds.  Really for me, it would have to be cut back to at most 1/4 cup.  But at the same time, I don't really see me making it again... so do what you feel.  And let me know your thoughts!  Maybe I'm awfully wrong here (it happens, just not often!)

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 c. almond meal/flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. + 1/4 c. black sesame seeds
1 1/3 c. + 2 Tbsp. sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 c. buttermilk
2 medium "firm but ripe" Bosc pears

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a metal loaf pan with two criss-crossing strips of parchment paper.  Peel, core and dice pears into 1/4 inch pieces, toss with 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour.

In large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder and soda, salt and 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds.

In spice grinder (or coffee grinder), grind remaining 1/4 cup of sesame seeds into a thick paste.

In large bowl of electric mixture, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add sesame seed paste and continue to beat.  Add egg and egg yolk, beat until well combined and batter is pale and fluffy.  With mixer on low speed, mix in 1/3 of flour mixture.  Before it has all beat in, mix in 1/2 of buttermilk.  Repeat with 1/3 of flour mixture, then remaining buttermilk.  Ending with dry ingredients, mix until just combined.  Fold in pears coated with flour.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.  Sprinkle evenly with remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Bake in 325 degree oven for 1 hour - 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in pan on wire rack.

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