Baking was not something that often happened in my household growing up. My mom made a lot of Asian desserts like peanut filled mochi, steamed sweet egg custard, Chinese dessert soups, but if we were to have cakes in the house they were most likely store-bought. My mom did make one type of cake occasionally for special occasions — if any baking was done in our household, it was to bake a magically soft and eggy loaf cake. The recipe for this cake is scribbled on a small piece of paper, all in traditional Chinese characters. I would make it with my mom sometimes but I was not old enough to be able to systematically add in all the dry ingredients to the wet and to make sure not too many lumps of flour remained. I still had lots of fun though. Because this simple eggy loaf cake is what I associated home baking and special occasions, homemade loaf cakes always always hold a special place in my heart.
Today I am sharing a loaf cake that requires a bit more work to make than the one I grew up eating. It is a rich chocolate loaf cake studded with three tender tea-poached pears throughout the loaf. I chose to use earl grey tea as the poaching liquid for the pears but any tea would work well. A chai tea-poached pear would be beautiful for the holiday season. The pears are first peeled and gently poached in sweetened earl grey tea under tender. They are then transferred to the loaf pan to be covered in the chocolate batter. The pears render the chocolate extra moist and soft. A gentle dusting of icing sugar adds an even greater rustic touch and creates a snowy effect perfect for the winter season. This loaf cake will definitely make its way to a dinner party this winter and I hope it makes it yours as well.
A luscious chocolate cake with tender earl grey tea-poached pears studded throughout the loaf.
5 earl grey tea bags
4 cups boiling water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
3 medium pears, peeled
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sour cream
In a medium size pot, let the tea bags steep in the boiling water for 5 minutes to infuse. Remove tea bags after 5 minutes. Add the sugar to the tea and stir to dissolve.
Add the peeled pears and vanilla bean to the pot and bring tea to a boil over medium heat. Let the pears simmer for 20 – 25 minutes over medium-low heat until the pears are tender.
Once pears are tender, remove the pears from the pot and set aside to let cool.
Preheat oven at 350°F. Grease a loaf pan and line pan with parchment with overhang on both sides.
In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large measuring cup combine the milk and sour cream. Set aside.
In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix until well incorporated.
Add in half of the flour mixture and half of the milk mixture and start mixing on slow. Add in the remainder of ingredients and mixed until just combined.
Pour the batter into the loaf pan, then place the pears bottom side down in the batter so they are nearly enveloped. Bake for 50 – 55 minutes, then allow to sit for 20 minutes on a cooling rack before removing from pan.