The girls asked, do I have a special cake to go along with their Red Velvet and Yogurt-Fruit-Nut cakes to celebrate the blog’s first birthday? It so happens, I do!
I always look at the cover of Lust auf Genuss magazine at the grocery store checkstand to see what the monthly recipe theme is, and probably eleven months out of twelve I end up with a copy in my basket. The September issue is full of apple and pear recipes, which brings me to Rotwein Birnen Kuchen, and of course, I had to try it. I’ve been doing a lot of healthy cooking lately (more about that another time), and this cake has a couple of healthful things going for it: nuts and pears. I guess we could also count red wine, and by the way, we went for a drive along the Deutsch Weinstrasse a couple of weeks ago and found a wonderful schwarzriesling (AKA Pinot Meunier), some of which made its way into this cake. In fact, the hazelnuts and pears were also produced right here in the Pfalz. I don’t quite know how to describe the cake – sort of sophisticated, but homey comfort food at the same time. I hope you like it!
Red Wine Pear Cake
Adapted from Lust auf Genuss Magazine
- 1 cup chopped hazelnuts*
- 1 cup ground hazelnuts plus 2 tablespoons for the baking pan
- 1 cup softened butter plus extra to grease the pan
- 1 cup demerara sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg**
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup red wine
- 2 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into small cubes
- 1 ¾ – 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons red wine
Heat oven to 350 F. Butter a 10-inch spring-form tube pan and sprinkle with ground hazelnuts, tipping and shaking like you would to flour a greased pan.
Toast the chopped hazelnuts in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring frequently until the nuts start to turn golden. Remove from the pan to cool, and toast the ground hazelnuts the same way. Note: if the hazelnuts still have skins, many of them will come off while they are toasting; you can either pick them out or leave them in as you prefer.
Cream the butter with the sugar; add the eggs and beat for several minutes. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and baking soda and then stir the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar-egg mixture along with the ground hazelnuts.
Blend in the wine. Sift a tablespoon or so of flour over the cubed pears on the cutting board and then gently fold the pears into the batter. The sifting-flour-on-the-pears step is my addition to the directions – when I made the cake without doing that, the pears all sank to the bottom (which ended up being the top), and I think the flour would help the pear chunks stay suspended in the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared tube pan and bake for about 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes or so and then remove to a rack to cool completely.
After the cake is cooled, stir together the powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons red wine to make a glaze, adding powdered sugar as needed to get the right consistency. Drizzle the mixture over the cake and allow the glaze to set before cutting the cake.
* Feel free to substitute walnuts or almonds if desired.
** The original recipe called for a generous dash of cloves, which I don’t like; I substituted nutmeg and it was good.