I baked a wedding cake. Well, no, not the wedding cake which was an amazing two story chocolate-raspberry affair, thankfully without fondant (you can’t go wrong with chocolate and raspberries!) and of which I certainly ate my share. Rather, I baked a cake for the potluck style after-wedding party.
When we were invited to my cousin’s September wedding in the Czech Republic, we hesitated briefly because it meant driving about 900 km there and then back and I really, really do not like long car trips and we only just about came back from our holiday there. But I was also very grateful for the invitation and really, really wanted to be part of the celebration. So we decided to go and then I also cleverly planned to teach a one day permaculture course that I had been asked to do the day prior to the wedding.
Which meant our schedule was:
Thursday: drive to my parents’ in Plzen (work on course preparation in the car)
Friday: teach edible forest gardening course, evening: bake chocolate pear cake
Saturday: drive down to Český Krumlov for the wedding party – party – drive back to my parents’ at night
Sunday: drive back to Hengelo
I expected to be completely exhausted afterwards but decided it was worth it.
And it was: more than worth it. The joy emanating from the couple was almost palpable and I think I have not been to a wedding before where everybody just looked so happy – not only the couple or the parents who are fully expected to, but everybody. It might have been the result of a careful planning combined with luck or the gods indulgently smiling down on the happy couple but the wedding was very nearly perfect. The bride was beautiful, the groom handsome, the weather could not have been better, the food was delicious, the Gypsy band rocked. And it did not hurt that the backdrop to the wedding was Český Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and possibly the most beautiful city in the Czech Republic.
Since we decided not to carry around our “big” (and rather heavy) camera, all the pictures bellow were taken by Remco with his phone (most are from his Instagram feed).
I got a chance to wear one of my favorite dresses and my vintage hat ( I love hats but they are sadly very impractical in the Netherlands where I cycle everywhere and the wind tends to blow them off my head).
We danced, we laughed, we got to talk to relatives we rarely see. I was very sorry to have to leave the party before it ended.
But back to the cake. This moist and quite intense cake has become my go-to cake this fall, much the way the plum and hazelnut brown butter cake was last year. I have first baked the pear cake with the Williams pears from our tree. They are delicious but do not keep at all, so have to be used quickly. I baked it again the week after that because my family requested it. I baked it for the aforementioned wedding party. And I baked it again last Saturday for the lunch at my gardening course. In short: it is versatile. Easy to make as almost all cakes are but very pretty with the pears laid decoratively on top.
Pears and chocolate are a well tested combination. The cake is sweetened with honey and I use part spelt flour in the batter. The batter has the appearance and appeal of chocolate mousse, so you might have to fight an urge to eat before it has even been transformed into a cake by the hot breath of the oven.
Pear and chocolate honey spelt cake
90 g (2/3 cups) whole spelt flour
125 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
30 g (1/3 cup) Dutch processed cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
125 ml (½ cup) whole milk yogurt
125 ml (½ cup) mild olive oil
125 ml (½ cup) honey (a fairly neutral tasting, like acacia)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 ripe but firm pears
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (360 F)
In a medium bowl, mix the flours, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and soda. I find that using a whisk for this is a good way to aerate the flour without having to sift it.
In another bowl or a measuring jar, whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, honey, eggs and vanilla extract.
Peel the pears, halve them, remove the cores and cut each half into fourth.
Oil a 24 cm sprigform baking pan or a skillet ( I sometimes use my beloved le Creuset tart-tatin dish). Line the bottom of the form with parchment paper.
Pour the wet mix into the flour mix and stir to combine well, but do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared baking form and smooth the surface. Arrange the pears on top in a pinwheel pattern.
Bake until an inserted skewer comes out clean – about 35 to 40 minutes.
The cake keeps at room temperature for two to three days.