Useful magic: Can’t find any ripe pears? Then poach them for a few minutes in boiling water so they become just as soft as ripe pears.
Devil’s Food Cake with Pears
(for the chocolate cake)
4 large, ripe pears (I’m using Conference)
1 tbsp honey
350g self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
200g caster sugar
1 tbsp vinegar (sub milk & vinegar by buttermilk if you have this at home)
150g vegetable oil (e.g corn oil)
(for the frosting & filling)
30g caster sugar
400g pure chocolate
Start by making the chocolate cake. Peel pears, remove the core and cut into cubes. Melt a knob of butter into a pan and add pears and honey. Braise for 4 minutes then drain the pears keep the liquid for later.
Pour the milk into a jug and sprinkle with vinegar. Let it stand for 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease two baking pans (20cm / 8 inch) with butter and cover the bottoms with parchment paper.
In a large bowl sift flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, caster sugar and cocoa and mix well. In a smaller bowl, whisk eggs, milk, oil and the cooking liquid from the pears. Add wet to dry ingredients and mix well to a smooth batter. Finally, stir in the pieces of pear and divide the batter over the two baking pans.
Bake the cakes for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool down completely.
Next, make the chocolate frosting. In a saucepan, heat water, butter and sugar. Let it boil for 2 minutes. Next, chop the chocolate into fine pieces and add to the water mixture. Stir to a smooth sauce and let it cool down until it has become thick and spreadable, about 10 minutes.
Cut off the tops of the cakes. Put one of the cakes on a cake stand and spread 3/4 of the glaze over the entire cake. Then top with the second cake and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides, making decorative swirls with a spoon or spatula.