Black Sesame-Pear Tea Cake

Of all the recipes I’ve tried during the past several weeks, this is the one I think about most often. Although I broke my coffee grinder in the process of grinding the sesame seeds, and my heart sank in disappointment when the top of the loaf collapsed during baking, I still think about it fondly—its unique taste and how beautifully a slice paired with a cup of coffee. I remember its head-turning dark hue, its deep, savory, unique flavor profile punctuated by unexpected soft pockets of pear compote, and its crunchy top sprinkled with sugar. This bread is like nothing I’ve ever tasted. And now it’s in my repertoire always. When I need a break from banana bread, this is just the recipe I’ll turn to.

Black Sesame-Pear Tea Cake (slightly adapted from Elizabeth Quijada of Abraço via Bon Appetit, March 2012; makes 10-12 servings)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature,
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup almond flour or almond meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup black sesame seeds
1 1/3 cups plus
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 (medium) firm but ripe Bosc pear, peeled, cored, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon Turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9 x 5 loaf pan. In a medium bowl, whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, and 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds. Grind remaining 1/2 cup sesame seeds in a spice mill or coffee grinder for about 2 minutes to form a thick paste.

Using an electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter and 1 1/3 cups sugar in a large bowl until well combined, 2–3 minutes. Add sesame paste and beat until blended, 1–2 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk. Beat until pale and fluffy, 3–4 minutes. On low speed, beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Toss pear with remaining 2 Tbsp. flour in a small bowl; fold into batter.

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. Turbinado sugar.

Bake until a tester comes out clean when inserted into center, about 1 hour 40 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack.

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