Our resident foodie Safia Shakarchi whips up the most delicious coffee cake – pear, olive oil & chestnut cake with chestnut coffee cream!
We may have waved goodbye to the summer rays and iced drinks, but it’s not all doom and gloom. The food at this time of year is definitely enough to keep us happy – there are also so many benefits of eating with seasons, including the fact that it allows us to get the most out of the flavours in our coffee pairings.
This coffee cake brings together two delicious seasonal ingredients – pears and chestnuts. You may have only ever had chestnuts whole and roasted, but this cake takes the nut to a whole new level by incorporating lesser-known chestnut flour and chestnut purée. If you’re brave enough, you can grind your own chestnut flour from dried, roasted nuts, or you can buy it online or in health food shops. It’s a great ingredient for baking, and gives the cake a subtle, almost smoky flavour.
Pair it with a medium to dark roast coffee to bring to dark roast coffee to bring the deeper flavours of both to the foreground. The pear and chestnut flavours work wonderfully with sweet, nutty coffees – perhaps a Central or South American variety.
For the cake
240g plain flour
100g chestnut flour
260g soft light brown sugar
1 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp baking powder
190ml olive oil
70g thick Greek yoghurt
50g chestnut purée
50g roasted chestnuts, roughly chopped
3 medium pears, cubed (1 peeled, 2 with skin on)
For the chestnut coffee buttercream
2 egg whites
125g caster sugar
2tbsp chestnut purée
2 tbsp freshly brewed espresso
- Combine the flours, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Run your fingers through the mixture to break up any large clumps of sugar.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, olive oil, Greek yoghurt and chestnut purée.
- Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet in three batches, working in a figure-of-eight motion from the bottom of the bowl to the top.
- When the dry ingredients are almost fully incorporated, fold through the cubes of peeled pear, along with the chopped chestnuts.
- Pour the batter into a greased and lined deep 20cm cake tin and scatter the skin-on pear cubes over the top.
- Bake in the oven at 180°C/gas mark 4 for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- While the cake is cooling, make the filling. Whisk the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until a little frothy.
- Use the bowl to create a bain marie, sitting it on top of a small saucepan of water over a medium heat. Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
- Continue whisking the eggs and sugar by hand until the mixture is too hot to touch.
- Transfer the bowl back to the stand mixer and whisk until soft, glossy meringue peaks form and the mixture has doubled in volume.
- When the bowl is back at room temperature, replace the whisk with the paddle attachment and gradually add the butter in small pieces.
- When all the butter has been added, pour in the espresso and continue beating until the buttercream is light and fluffy. Finally, fold in the chestnut purée.
- Divide your cake horizontally into two layers or use a cake leveller. Spread or pipe the buttercream over the bottom half of the cake and then sandwich the top layer onto it.
- Serve as it is with a little dusting of icing sugar, or decorate with chocolate curls, tuile biscuits and a few more dollops of buttercream.
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