When the fresh fruit pickings are slim, this tea loaf, made with dried and canned pears, offers a good fruit option. Prepared from a muffinlike batter, the loaf is liberally dosed with chopped chocolate and dried pears. The combination of the chopped dried pears and pureed canned pears produces a moist loaf that keeps well.
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 canned pear halves in light syrup, drained
2 large eggs
1/4 pound (1 stick) soft unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups chopped dried pears, in 1/4-inch pieces (about 7 ounces)
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1. Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a loaf pan with a 6- to 7-cup capacity.
2. Sift the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
3. Put the canned pear halves in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process to a puree, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract and process until the mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds. The mixture may look slightly curdled. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture, stirring just until the flour is evenly moistened. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the chopped dried pears. Gently stir the remaining dried pears and the chocolate into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the reserved dried pears over the top of the loaf, pressing them gently into the loaf.
4. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. A long, narrow loaf pan requires the shorter baking time. Cool the loaf thoroughly in the pan on a wire rack.
Doubling the Recipe
- Dried pears can be found in most supermarkets and natural food stores. Hadley Fruit Orchards ships large, sweet dried pears.
- Loaf pans vary tremendously in size; I have six loaf pans and no two have the same measurements. Measure the capacity of a loaf pan to determine which pan to use. A 6- to 7-cup loaf pan is best for this cake. A long loaf pan with a 7-cup capacity takes the shorter 50-minute baking time listed in the recipe, while a 6-cup pan produces a higher, wider loaf and needs the longer baking time.
- Since the dry and liquid ingredients must be gently mixed together, I use a food processor to puree the canned pears and liquid ingredients for the batter. The batter is very smooth and combines quickly with the flour mixture.
- The baked loaf slices best after it is cooled thoroughly, even the day after it is baked.
Double the ingredients and use two pans.
Use a small sharp knife to loosen the loaf from the sides of the pan. Invert the loaf onto a large piece of heavy aluminum foil covered with plastic wrap. Turn the loaf right side up. Wrap the plastic wrap tightly around each loaf. Wrap the heavy aluminum foil around the loaf. Label with date and contents. Freeze up to 3 months.
Defrost the wrapped loaf at room temperature at least 5 hours or overnight. Use a large sharp knife to slice the loaf into 1/2-inch slices and serve at room temperature. Leftover tea loaf can be covered with plastic wrap, and stored at room temperature up to 4 days.
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Excerpted from Bake and Freeze Chocolate Deserts by Elinor Klivans Copyright© 1997 by Elinor Klivans. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.