This is another recipe from Dan Lepard's new book Short and Sweet. I remember making it when it was first published in the Guardian, and not being too impressed with it, but that was back before I needed to reign in my baking extravagances and try to cook with less saturated fat. The book also amends the recipe to use three eggs rather than just one, which would make a richer cake, so I was interested to see if I liked it better this time round.
The cake uses tinned pears and some of the juice as a means of reducing both added sugar and fat. There is only 50mls of oil in the recipe which is a really low amount - the recipe stipulates walnut oil, but I used hazelnut - I'm sure light olive oil would be OK to use too. The recipe was quick and easy to follow - I used a stick blender to purée the pears with the chocolate mixture, as I don't have a large processor or blender - but the cake didn't rise as much as I'd expected from the photograph in the book.
Cutting the cake revealed quite an uneven texture too - a dense layer at the bottom which might be uncooked batter, several holes and some peculiar pale patches. The flavour of the cake was better than I'd remembered; it was quite dense and moist, and not very sweet, but, on the downside, it wasn't very chocolately in flavour either. I'm sure the faults in the texture are mine - you just need to check out the photograph of the cake Dan made to see that - but I'm not sure what I could have done differently. I can't imagine that using a stick blender rather than a blender on a processor makes that much difference, and everything else about the recipe was followed to the letter!
It was interesting to make this again, and compare with my memory of making it before, and it's quite a nice plain everyday cake, but I have better recipes for that sort of cake, so can't see this being repeated!