Here’s my spin on a delicious cake known as torta di pere, adapted from this excellent recipe.
My version is made with almond flour and honey instead of wheat and sugar. Plus I bake it in a cast iron skillet. A country cake with rugged ingredients and the sophisticated and unexpected combination of chocolate and pear seems perfectly suited to being baked in skillet.
You can use a spring form pan but if you have a 10-inch cast iron frying pan give it a try.
A cast iron skillet is an excellent baking vessel because cast iron enhances brownness and promotes a slightly crisp exterior. Baking this cake in a skillet results in a wonderful crust; the edges and bottom become golden and caramelized yet the inside is moist.
There’s a learning curve to baking with cast iron. Timing is everything since cast iron gets very hot and stays very hot. Once you get the hang of it you can really nail certain recipes, especially things you want soft in the middle with a nice crust.
You can pour your batter into a cool greased pan and then put it in a preheated oven. However, for best results, preheat the skillet by placing it in a cool oven and allowing it to heat as the oven heats before you grease it and add the batter.
Chocolate and pear skillet cake, gluten-free
2 cups almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs, separated. Beating the egg whites and then folding into the batter results in a lighter cake.
1/3 cup honey
6 tbsp olive oil or oil of your choice. Melted coconut oil or butter works, too.
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 pears, peeled and in a small dice. I used Bartlett pears.
3/4 cup dark chocolate chunks
Place 10-inch cast iron skillet in cool oven and turn oven to 350 F or 325 F if using convection. Allow skillet to heat for twenty minutes while you make batter.
In a small bowl mix almond flour, baking powder and salt.
In a larger bowl cream the eggs yolks, honey, oil and vanilla. Add the almond mixture and combine well.
Beat the egg whites and fold into batter.
Carefully remove the heated skillet from the oven and grease it by adding add 1 teaspoon of oil, butter or coconut oil, brushing to coat the bottom and sides.
Pour in batter and top with diced pear and chocolate chunks.
Return to oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and light to the touch. Doneness is more important than baking time so be sure to check by light touch or the toothpick method.
Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Best served at room temperature or slightly warm.
Store any remaining slices in an airtight container in the fridge.