Cake of the Month ~ Hazelnut, Chocolate and Pear Cake

Cake soon I promise, but first let me say how much I enjoyed the comments on my last post about not wearing makeup. I knew I wasn't alone. I was struck particularly by how often the words pale/washed out/faded/ ill looking cropped up as reasons for wearing makeup. I have to say I think this is a learned response. How often do you look at a man and think how pale or washed out he looks? Why is looking pale a bad thing? What will happen if people think you look pale? I'm willing to bet they won't even notice. 

Ok, back to important things. Cake.
When my friend Tracy gave me some hazelnuts from her garden I knew they'd be the perfect ingredient around which to base my October cake. 

Pears are at their best at this time of year so also perfect for my October cake. Adding chocolate was a no-brainer. 

I used the recipe for 'a great chocolate cake for family, friends, dessert, tea, birthdays...' in Nigel Slater's Appetite as a framework for my cake. The whole point of the recipes in this book are that they can and should be used as blueprints.

I used fewer nuts and less chocolate, I added pears and swapped the demerara sugar for light soft brown sugar and I omitted the coffee. The result was, if I may say so, delicious.

Hazelnut, Chocolate and Pear Cake

Grease and base-line a 9"/23cm cake tin with a removable bottom.

Chop into small pieces to resemble gravel (see fourth picture)
150g hazelnuts (I toasted mine slightly in a dry frying pan but I wouldn't say this was essential)
100g dark chocolate
By hand or by food processor is fine.

Peel, core and chop into chunks about 1 cm big 
1-2 pears my pears were big and I didn't use all the chunks. You're aiming for enough to scatter over the surface of the cake.

Cream together until fluffy
250g soft butter
250g light soft brown sugar

Add one by one
4 large eggs
Beat well so that each egg is well mixed in before you add the next one.

Sift together then fold into the creamed mixture
250g plain flour
2 rounded teaspoons of baking powder
half a teaspoon of salt

Stir in most of the chocolate and nuts reserving a handful to scatter on the top of the cake.
Scrape the mixture into the cake tin and level the surface.
Scatter the pear chunks over the top of the cake.
Finish with the reserved chocolate and nuts.

Bake at 180°c (160°c fan oven) for 1 hour and 20 minutes until a skewer comes out of the cake clean.

This cake won't keep for very long because of the pears in it, so eat it up quickly. Tough, I know.



  1. That cake looks gorgeous, and as for having to eat it up quickly or it will go off, I doubt that would be a problem for anyone :-)

    One of the reasons I love Nigel Slater's recipes is that he almost demands that you go 'off piste' and do your own thing, it really gets your imagination going reading through his recipes.

  2. That looks absolutely delicious, I might have a go at adapting it to be gluten free. Thanks for sharing

  3. That cake looks perfect, a nice autumnal cake to go with a coffee.....is there a Nigel Slater book you would recommend please? Thanks Niki x

    1. Appetite is my favourite because it's all about basic recipes which can be adapted lots of ways, the latest one Eat is full of quick and easy ideas which also encourage doing your own thing. If you're after recipes to use specific fruit and veg then Tender Vols I and II are sublime. In short they're all excellent.

    2. Thank you Sue, I have The Kitchen Diaries out from the library, but think I need to start purchasing.....Love his way of cooking.

  4. I made a parkin at the weekend and left it to stickify, wrapped in greaseproof paper for five days, as per instructions. It was still bone dry and most disappointing.
    A moist gooey cake like the one you've made is what's needed around here.
    Nigel's wonderful - both his books (although we don't have 'Appetite' - yet) and his demeanour. I can't abide a shouty chef (or cook).

  5. Pears...they either seem to be rock hard or mushy in our house. Clearly I need to just put them in cake instead of trying to find that mysterious one hour window of ripe perfection. Delicious sounding recipe, thank you Sue. x

  6. Cakes with fruit in are my favourite kind. This one looks delicious, hazelnuts have a very nice flavour that I imagine taste lovely in this cake. I have a new found love of pears. I like to eat them when they are hard, crisp and juicy. The softer kind would be great in this cake. Am I sexist and bad because I just don't like men who cook? It always seems like they want to make it a big deal and need lots of acclaim for something women do everyday. So I'm always happy to cook my own dinner (and cake). I also prefer cooks to chefs. I can't stand programmes like The Great British Bake off, because I don't think cooking food is a competition. It's for enjoying and being unstressed about and eating.

    1. I can't tell you how much I agree with you Faye about programmes like Bake Off and yes cooks over chefs always.

  7. Thank you for knowing the difference between fewer and less.

  8. Anonymous7:55 pm BST

    What a lovely seasonal cake, it looks delicious.
    Forgive me for backtracking to the no make-up subject, but what really annoys me is the attitude that seems to be prevalent these days, that a woman who doesn't wear make-up hasn't made an effort. As if it couldn't possibly be a deliberate choice, rather she is simply lazy. As someone who wears so little that people probably think I wear none, nothing on eyes and lips, I have picked up on this attitude a lot.

    1. Couldn't agree more. Why do we have this ridiculous idea that women must improve themselves and men do not?

  9. Oh my.....that is to die for!!!!
    Thanks for sharing the recipe
    Karen x

  10. Sue, I am making note of this recipe, and like what you say about this Slater bloke. It's now almost cool enough in New York for me to consider preheating the oven and doing some baking. Pears, hazelnuts and chocolate...I have heard the call.


  11. Another one for my recipe file . Thanks, I'll have a go at making it soon.
    On the makeup front, I think that not wearing makeup allows your skin to develop a healthy colour and you no longer look "pale". Those of us who continue to wear make up inhibit our skin from developing that healthy colour .

  12. That cakes looks amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Anonymous7:29 am BST

    I'm just sitting here drooling.

  14. Thanks for the recipe as ever Sue, looks lovely, I'll aim to try it soon.
    Many thanks too for the link about prettiness, I thought it was brilliant, very liberating and only wish I'd read something like that 20 years ago - I'll print off a copy for my daughter to read when she's older.

  15. OMG ! Pears and chocolate... and hazelnuts for good measure. Makes me drool just looking at it. I will sure give this one a try !!

  16. Delicious cake, I love recipes that are easily adapted. I absolutely love the pale look, the paler the better. Can't stand orange. CJ xx

  17. That cake sounds heavenly to me, pears going on the shopping list right now.
    I pinned that prettiness article a few months ago, hoping my daughters will take note.
    Having said that, make up for me is all about confidence - it's all very well if you have lovely skin, but mine needs help, I thought I might have outgrown it at 54 but alas, no. But I never wear it if I'm at home for the day.
    You were very brave to go barefaced - lucky you having good skin :)

  18. That is what I like about Nigel, he gives you a 'jumping off point'. Your cake looks good.

  19. Your cake looks delicious - I'll have to try it myself! x

  20. The cake looks yummy. I used my pears yesterday to make apple and pear tarts. When you said about being pale it reminded me that when I was a child people always asked my mother what was wrong with me because I was always so pale. And I gues I still am pale. Maybe eating cake would help.

  21. Your cake looks and sounds yummy. I did visit earlier, I usually do, but as also usually happens, I didn't leave a comment - have been very bad for that recently. Anyway, I thought I'd return in response to your comment on my blog about cameras - no I don't use a DSLR, I'm very much a point and shoot person - getting the right subject and angle matter more than faffing about with settings, I let the camera deal with that. My husband tried to persuade me to get a fancier camera which he has now done, but when I see the big bag he lugs around I'm glad I stuck with my compact and if it turns out my current camera is still gubbed then I'll be replacing it with another compact one. Thanks for your kind comments about my photos though, it was very much appreciated.


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