The Alchemist’s Chocolate Cake – Short and Tweet

Loaf Cakes | 7th January 2012 | By

Although I’d love to enter the Short and Tweet twitter challenge (#shortandtweet) every week, I know this is not feasible, but I am trying to enter it on a monthly basis. You can see the upcoming schedule of bakes here. This week I am not only still on holiday, but one of the chosen recipes is a chocolate cake – errr – no brainer! This has been chosen because of the January austerity measures imposed on our stomachs – it contains only a small amount of fat and sugar using pears as a partial substitute.

As I only had a small (220g) pack of pears left behind by a Japanese visitor, I made approximately half the quantity. It was a bit difficult to half three eggs, but as they weren’t particularly big, I used two and rounded up the other ingredients rather than down to compensate. The only convenient sized mould I had was a loaf tin, so that is what I used. Not having any walnut oil to hand, which I’m sure would have been really good, I used a combination of sunflower and pumpkin seed.

I upped the calories a little, by drizzling on some 37% G&B milk chocolate – or perhaps blobbing is a better description. It’s certainly not as pretty as Dan’s picture in the book. You can see his recipe, originally published in the Guardian, here.

Without giving any clues as to it’s identity, I asked CT what he thought. This was his stream of consciousness whilst tasting “smells of cupcakes from my childhood. Resilient cake, not crumbly but has a springy texture. Not very sweet. Nice, slightly banana flavour, slightly grainy, like oats? Seems like the sort of thing someone from the 1950s, wearing a waistcoat, would be eating with a mug of tea, after a hard days graft in the fields”.

When he found out this was made with pears, he cried, “ahh sclereids” – blooming botanists! Sclereids are, apparently, the grainy bits you get in pears, so he wasn’t too far off the mark with the grainy and fruity associations

We both really liked this cake, both the flavour and texture and it really didn’t need the chocolate on top, although this did make for an, err, interesting look!


  1. Leave a Reply

    Joanna @ Zeb Bakes
    7th January 2012

    Great write up Choclette! It’s always hard to half eggs, I have an involuntary mental picture of a karate chop and the resultant mess. You can always weigh them and just use half the weighed egg (out of shell of course) but I tend to round up like you do. I remember making this when it came out in the Guardian and it was not well received here so am in two minds whether to try again. I seem to recall it was specially written in response to a reader’s request. Loved CT’s description too xx

  2. Leave a Reply

    7th January 2012

    This looks wonderful! Hope you had a great Christmas – sorry I have been off the radar,it’s great to see all the wonderful posts you’ve made recently. Happy New year x

  3. Leave a Reply

    7th January 2012

    You never fail to disappoint Choclette, fantastic guilt free recipe with fruit too! Thank you 🙂

  4. Leave a Reply

    7th January 2012

    I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am by CT’s sclereids tasting note alongside the stream of consciousness. I’m wondering if the presence of sclereids is not as noticeable with tinned pears because they have such a different texture. (I’m assuming, perhaps wrongly, that the visitor left behind some semi-dried pears.)

    Yes – I opted for recipes that looked as if they had storecupboard ingredients (to cope with a need for some thrift, post-holidays); offered some lighter fat or calorie options; something that could be nut-free (to allow for some participants’ family circumstances). Plus, I thought the week/end of most people’s return to work needed a cake.

    I’m so pleased that this met some of your needs 🙂

  5. Leave a Reply

    Fabulicious Food
    7th January 2012

    OOh I hadn’t noticed this Twitter challenge and I do have the book so may join in. Your cake looks lovely. Also promising to join in with We Should Cocoa more this year!!

  6. Leave a Reply

    The Caked Crusader
    7th January 2012

    Pear and chocolate is my all time favourite combination, although having said that I’ve never seen pear used in that way.

    Thanks for this, I found it a fascinating post!

  7. Leave a Reply

    Dom at Belleau Kitchen
    7th January 2012

    oh trust CT to turn it into a science lesson!… looks really good and I love your approach to the Short and Tweet session, which I think I may follow… once a month is more than enough… lovely looking cake, hope you’re well xx

  8. Leave a Reply

    7th January 2012

    It’s a great cake isn’t it! I like CT’s stream of consciousness, and am interested to learn what the ‘grainy bits’ are properly known as. Shall file that piece of knowledge in my ‘probably won’t ever be needed again’ file in the back of my brain!

  9. Leave a Reply

    7th January 2012

    Aha, another challenge. How will I manage to enter…..! This cake looks like a winner to me and I like the fact it contains some pretty unusual ingredients. Walnut oil and pears…must look this recipe up, thanks!

  10. Leave a Reply

    Baking Addict
    7th January 2012

    I’ve just got my copy so I may join in the challenge at some point. Like you I’d struggle to make it weekly. This cake looks interesting – I’ve bookmarked it in my copy now. I may as well bookmark the whole book! lol. Love CT’s description especially about the sclereids!

  11. Leave a Reply

    Karen S Booth
    7th January 2012

    I got a copy for Christmas, so I will be joining in soon! LOVE the chocolate and pear combination and that cake looks SO moist and chocolatey!

  12. Leave a Reply

    7th January 2012

    This looks great but I’m not keen on the texture of sclereids so I might adapt it and see if it works with apple. If so I’ll let you know.

  13. Leave a Reply

    7th January 2012

    Hmmm…it looks wonderful, but the banana flavour description is putting me off (I can’t stand bananas!). Very clever recipe though! 🙂

  14. Leave a Reply

    7th January 2012

    This ckae does look dense and seriously chocolate heaven. I don’t have the book but that is just as well as I can not manage short blog posts yet!

  15. Leave a Reply

    Johanna GGG
    8th January 2012

    what a great cake – this is bookmarked to make soon – love CT’s description – has he thought of giving up his job to write recipe introductions or tasting notes in cookbooks 🙂

  16. Leave a Reply

    8th January 2012

    I’m on my knees here!! Going to have to make that cake!

  17. Leave a Reply

    8th January 2012

    Joanna – I can see it wouldn’t be everyone’s favourite cake. it’s not my favourite, but I still enjoyed it with the virtuous feeling I wasn’t consuming quite as much sugar as I normally do! As you know, I don’t go in for faffing about, so am happy with approximations – that is until it goes wrong :-S

    Lucie – thank you. You have far more interesting things to be involved with than blogging. It’s good to hear from you though 🙂

    Sheelagh – thank you. That’s a lovely thing to say.

    EMatters – the pears were in a pack with juice as normal tinned pears. I didn’t really notice the grainyness, but CT obviously has a more refined palate 😉 I return to work tomorrow, so am definitely in need of cake 🙁

    Ren – Short & Sweet is such a great book, I’m a real fan, along with hundreds / thousands of others I suspect. Would be lovely if you were able to join in with We Should Cocoa. There are so many challenges out there now, it’s hard to know which ones to choose.

    CC – thank you. The pear taste isn’t particularly discernible, except for a vague fruitiness.

    Gloria – thank you.

    Dom – thank you. Yes. CT is always going preachy on me. It doesn’t seem to have had much impact though, I remain complacently ignorant.

    C – I will be very impressed if you can retain that bit of info, but you just never know when it might come in handy!

    Laura – yes, there are far too many challenges out there now and I can’t keep up at all. Wish I’d had the walnut oil to try with this – I’ve never used it in baking before.

    Baking Addict – yes bookmarking the whole book is the only way 😉

    Karen – hoorah, you got the book. AND what do you think of it?

    Corina – an excellent idea. I’m sure it would work really well. Apple puree is used as a substitute for butter sometimes.

    Celia – yes well, you can’t always trust CT 😉

    Jac – thank you, that’s made me realise it’s about time to have a slice!

    Cakeboule – ha ha, are short blog posts your ultimate aim?

    Johanna – if I get rich, maybe I’ll pay him to write my blog 😉

    Chele – it fits well into our We Should Cocoa theme.

  18. Leave a Reply

    8th January 2012

    How could you resist a challenge with chocolate in it? I’ve not tried this recipe from S&S yet but love the idea of using pears as part of the batter.

  19. Leave a Reply

    Ananda Rajashekar
    9th January 2012

    I can’t any good method to divide an egg, cake looks so moist and dense, with pear and choco, “heaven”

    • Leave a Reply

      20th May 2012

      You are right Ananda, dividing an egg must be a near impossibility and not one I’m particularly interested in trying 🙂

  20. Leave a Reply

    20th May 2012

    Cooked this today, followed the recipe to the letter…it was awful. no-one would eat it and so it went in the bin. Bit worried because I have ordered the cookery book.

    • Leave a Reply

      20th May 2012

      Sorry this didn’t work for you. It’s certainly not a very sweet or indulgent cake nor is it my favourite, but we still liked it and thought it was a quite a good one if watching the calories. Do rest assured though, I’d be most surprised if you didn’t find a few recipes you really liked in the book – there’s an awful lot of variety.

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