Sunday, January 17, 2010

On the Fly

Yesterday afternoon we had some friends come into town, and before they arrived Gian Luca suggested that we have them over for dessert and coffee after dinner. He suggested this at 2 pm, when I was still in my pajamas, sitting at the kitchen table working on my book.
I was in no mood to go to the grocery store, but I also wanted everyone over for dessert, so I took a quick survey of the kitchen and tried to figure out what I could bake. I saw pears in the fridge, coco powder in the cabinets, and I thought they'd go well together in a cake.
A quick google search told me I wasn't alone. Pear and chocolate cake recipes flooded the screen, and although some which called for chocolate chips looked to-die-for, I had to settle for what I had in stock.The result: a moist, rich chocolate cake, sprinkled with sweet refreshing pears. To be honest, it wasn't my best cake ever, but for something baked on the fly, it was pretty good. And there is something accomplishing about being able to just make a cake without planning. To have all the ingredients for a cake available just made me feel settled in our apartment. Sometimes I am still amazed at my life. Gian Luca and I sometimes look at each other and squeal, "We're married!" ( sorry but we are still newlyweds!) So being able to whip up a cake is like we're screaming "We live here!" Ya know what I mean?

* as a side note, I have to say that my friend Luca's reaction to the cake was the absolute best reaction to a baked good I've ever gotten. Luca, I repeat, you are always invited over!

Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake
adapted from Jesse Ziff Cool,

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened coco-powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee ( cooled)
3/4 cup buttermilk*
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 pears, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2" thick slices

1. Lightly oil a 10" cake pan, line with parchment and lightly oil the parchment as well
2. preheat oven to 375 degrees F
3. Combine flour, sugar, coco-powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl
4. In a large bowl mix together eggs, coffee, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture and stir until well combined.
5. Line the bottom of the cake pan with the pears in a circular design. Pour the batter on top of the pears and bake for 40 minutes ( or until a wooden pick in the center comes out clean).
6. Place on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. If the cake is uneven, cover it with a clean plate and weigh it down with a pot of cold water for a few minutes.
7. Carefully run a metal spatula around the edges of the cake pan. Invert the cake onto a serving platter and tap the top of the pan, shaking it a bit to loosen it. Leave the pan on the cake for 15 minutes. Remove pan and parchment and allow the cake to cool completely.
8. Serve with French vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream. Enjoy with friends.


  1. I've always wanted to try making a pear and chocolate cake. Your version looks terrific and you two sound adorable together.

  2. That was veryyyyy goooood Antonietta!

  3. This looks delectable - chocolate and any fruit has my vote. How grand to have someone over - who appreciates it!

  4. What a cute story and delicious looking cake! I love friends like Luca!

  5. did luca squeal with delight? because i know i would, even though i've never actually eaten chocolate and pears together. enjoy with friends? what if i don't want to share? :)

  6. It makes me so happy when my guests LOVE what I make them. This cake looks and sounds decadent and delicious.

  7. It looks amazing... nice work making it on the fly. Pears and chocolate...mmmm.