It is not difficult to fall into a “cooking rut.” There is an ease and comfort in making the same, delicious dishes, time and time again. Sometimes, it’s nice to challenge oneself with new, interesting recipes and novel ingredients.
Sofia at Papaya Pieces and I are going through the alphabet, A to Z. Each month, we challenge ourselves (and other!) to prepare a unique and fabulous dish with a new ingredient. February, “S” is for “Sesame.” Sofia prepared a scrumptious, exotic variation of an Indian dessert, A Til Ka Ladoo. I found inspiration in a long ago published recipe for Black Sesame-Pear Tea Cake in a treasured magazine.
I dared myself to make the tea cake amazingly tasty – yet healthy and lactose-free. I succeeded! Now, I am basking in (and rapidly consuming!) the results of a great culinary effort. There is such a pride that comes from trying new things.
This nutritious, feel-good tea cake has better texture and flavor than the original recipe. All four taste-testers – Abba (the sweet tooth), Littlest Guy, Snu Magoo and I (Ima!) – devoured it. With deep sincerity, I proclaim that the healthy recipe “makeover” heightens the level of rich, sweet indulgence in the original recipe from Bon Apetit Magazine.
Snu Magoo prefers to eat her black sesame and pear treat sandwich style, with a smidgen of all-fruit raspberry preserves. Ima and Abba lightly toasted theirs with a light spread of whipped Earth Balance.
Complete bliss from an unexpected flavor combination: the lovely union of crisp, sweet pear and earthy, rich black sesame. This recipe takes a bit of love and patience from the cook, but the results are worth the time and tender care.
The almond meal adds a rich, nuttiness to the tea cake that cannot be accomplished with whole grain flour alone. With each bite, I was more pleased by the surreal, light texture and moist, tender crumb.
The tea cakes bakes in a 325•F oven for a shocking amount of time: one hour and forty minutes. I was skeptical of the long baking time and low temperature, but not for long. The loaf emerged from the oven perfectly cooked. Plus, the gorgeous aroma of a decadent, baking cake is a welcome addition to any morning.
This month, “S” is for “Sesame.” What will you challenge yourself to make? I can’t help but suggest a Black Sesame and Pear Tea Cake or A Til Ka Ladoo.
It’s lovely to pitter-patter and play in the kitchen. Oh, amazing aromas of fantastic foods in the making. It’s the weekend; happy cooking!
~Shanna and the Curls and Carrots Clan
Black Sesame and Pear Tea Cake
Adapted from the recipe at Bon Apetit Magazine
1 firm pear, such as Bosc, peeled and grated
- Mix the almond milk and vinegar in a small bowl and allow to sit at room temperature to form an almond “buttermilk.”
- Preheat oven to 325•F. Grease a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan with butter or Earth Balance.
- Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and two tablespoons sesame seeds in a large bowl.
- Grind the remaining 1/2 cup sesame seeds in a coffee grinder or spice mill until a thick paste is formed, approximately two minutes.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, Greek yogurt and 1 cup of the sugar on medium speed, scraping down the sides a few times with a rubber spatula, until well blended, about two minutes.
- Add the egg and egg yolk to the bowl. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and pale, four minutes more.
- Stir the almond-vinegar mixture well.
- On low-speed, beat in the flour mixture from the large bowl and the almond “butter milk.” Beat in the flour in three additions, alternating with two additions of the almond “butter milk.” Begin and end with the flour mixture.
- In the same bowl the flour mixture was whisked, toss the pear with the remaining two tablespoons of flour. Gently fold the pear into the batter.
- Use a rubber spatula to spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Smooth the top.
- Sprinkle the batter with the remaining one tablespoon of sugar.
- Bake until a tester inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean, about one hour and 40 minutes.
- Allow the pan to cool for twenty minutes on a wire wrack.
- Remove to the loaf from pan and cool completely on the wire wrack.
- yogurt is a naturally lactose-free food
- use a gluten-free, all purpose baking flour blend, if desired
©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, shannaward.com (2013-2014), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.