A FLORENTINE TALL DARK AND NOBLE!

A rich, Florentine recipe that I tweaked for pears and made gluten free!

A rich, Florentine recipe that I tweaked for pears and made gluten free!

I have a confession. Before I went to Italy, I thought the most beautiful place on Earth was somewhere definitely in France, most likely near the Luxemburg gardens in Paris. Cobble streets docilely dotted with oh-so-french patisseries where very tradicionale boulangers baked glorious croissants and patissiers made melting pastry. Ok... That is heaven! A walled place that I love peeking into, yet knowing I can't quite really belong but even being in the proximity of it, makes me levitate...

we'll keep my culinary promiscuity, our little secret

Then I went to Italy and realised that I had it all wrong. Heaven is really on Earth and it's the kind that I can touch, feel and taste without the fear of reprimand because I ate with my hands and gobbled it all up before you could say go. Where you don't have to be carefully put together and project elegance but simply be and soak in the radiance all around. Where you are romanced just because and you are surrounded by people who shout their passion in everything they do and nothing is done without a deep involvement.

Yes, I have a problem. I am in love in both France and Italy! I think the trick of loving more than one is careful scheduling and time management. Somehow I don't think one with its cold retribution and the with its hot passion will particularly like being shared or sharing....! 

Well.. we'll keep my culinary promiscuity, our little secret, shall we? Please?!

torta de pera (Italian Pear Cake)
florence-duomo

I am revisiting Italy this Summer! I am so, so, excited!! The last time I was there was four years ago. I cannot wait to see what is different. I am going to some old places I went last time and some new ones that I have read about and have been longing to see!

Certainly on the list is Tuscany, the region that captured my heart and sealed my love for the country. You see, from when I was wee high, I had a romantic dalliance with rolling hills. A steady diet of Enid Blyton, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and several other British classic and contemporary novels had left me yearning for the dreamy landscape of the English country side. Yet, I had never been there.

The closest I got to it was in Scotland, which didn't really count because it was the scene of a historic battlefield. I had pictured the idyll of country living with people busy about their chores, yet, waving to each other on their way, in recognition and polite inquiry.. You know the gist.

My first real taste of it was unexpected.. Because it was not in England but in Tuscany, through the picturesque windows of Juls's cottage! Oh the wonder and the sigh of fulfillement that escaped me. Juls knew of my particular obsession and rather teased me about it but I was simply spellbound by the perfect gentle hills of this country. And the scene... As idyllic as it could be. I cannot wait to revisit the place. As a side note, I still have not glimpsed the English scenes of my youthful dreams (replete with bumping into the handsome son of an aging marquess with his dark brooding good looks and nimble dance moves!)

And, then there is Florence. What a city! At once elegant and historic and at the same time relatable and down to Earth. Few places in the world have managed to create that balance with as much charm as Florence exudes. One could get lost for days exploring the city or just sit by the canal and get lost in the scenes, sounds and smells around you. It is a city just as good for taking a pause as to indulging head on with all your senses!

Florentine Pear Cake {Gluten Free}
Florentine Pear Cake {Gluten Free}

Some of my favorite bloggers write from this region. I have followed Emiko's blog for god knows how long, quietly prowling her straight from the heart, well rooted recipes into the wee hours of the morning. When her book, Florentine, realised I was drawn ever more to what cooked and shared. Ironically, as much as I gawked I recreated few of her recipes, mostly because I do not have access to the richness of the variety of ingredients that Italy has. But, also because I was a little intimidated..

Then she posted this gorgeous cake from her book and everything just clicked! I had to recreate it, gluten free ofcourse. And, well with pears because I did not have apples. But, oh how perfect it was! I ate it for dessert, for breakfast, as a snack, even sneaky bites in passing. I wrapped it in foil and took it to work to brighten those blighted sleepy afternoons. Along with a small cup of strong espresso, I could take a bite and be transported back to looking of Jul's window onto the rolling hills of my dreams....

Yes, this is the stuff, tall, dark and handsome with the broodiest elegance simply cannot beat!

Florentine Pear Cake {Gluten Free}
Florentine Pear Cake {Gluten Free}

Torta de Pera

/ *Florentine Pear Cake */

{Barely adapted from Emiko's recipe}

The biggest difference other than flour blend and fruit is that I beat the eggs for a fair bit of time to almost triple the volume. This is a trick I learnt from an Irish mammy and it make the cakes taller and airier..

 

2 bartlett pears

200 g self-raising gluten free flour blend

110 g sugar

90 g butter, softened

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180C or 350F.

Slice a whole and half of one pear thinly and remaining into thin chunks. Toss in a little lemon to keep them from oxidising.

In a large bowl, or a stand mixer, beat the sugar with the butter until pale and fluffy. 

Add the eggs, one at a time, and, beat until almost white and multiplied in volume, about 7 minutes. 

Add milk and carefully combine. Gently fold in the flour, salt and pear chunks.

Pour the batter into a cake tin and arrange the pear slices prettily on top.

 Bake until the top is golden brown and springy when touched, about 45-55 minutes.

When cool, dust with powdered sugar, slice and serve. Store covered at room temperature.