My doodles tend to be geometric designs. I mean that in the least artsy way possible – less mosaic, more middle school. Usually, I’ll draw a little heart, flower, star, or circle and then repeat it a bunch of times to form a cluster before moving on. The flowers are the hardest. Getting the petals evenly sized and spaced is impossible, whether I’m going for five or fifty.
I felt the same way as I was laying the pear slices on this cake. Would the longer pieces look weird? Were the slices overlapping too much or not enough? Should I leave the middle circle empty or try to do two rows of pears? It turns out that pears are much more forgiving than ink, artistically speaking, because I felt like a master pastry chef when I pulled this torte out of the oven. The pears soften and sink slightly into the cake, making the perfect sunburst pattern.
Tahini adds a deep nutty flavor to this dense cake. It might be confused for peanut butter if the sprinkle of sesame seeds on top didn’t give it away. The hint of cardamom is the perfect something-something, though it could be replaced with cinnamon or left out if you don’t have it on hand. If your grocery store has a bulk spice section, that’s the best way to get it and you don’t have to break the bank for a jar that will get old in your spice drawer. When it’s freshest, right after I buy it, I can smell it in its little bag every time I walk into the kitchen, begging me to bake.
- ¾ cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup tahini
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 Bosc pears
- Sesame seeds, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Beat the sugar, butter, and tahini together until light and fluffy. Add flour, baking powder, cardamom, salt, and eggs. Mix well.
- Spread the batter evenly into the pan. It will be stiff, so you may find it easiest to use your fingers. Core and thinly slice the pears. Arrange slices in a sunburst pattern, overlapping the pieces slightly. Put a few smaller pieces in the center of the circle. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top of the pears.
- Bake for about an hour, until the center is fully set. If you notice the edges browning too quickly, cover with foil and continue baking until done.
- Serve the cake slightly warm or room temperature. The cake can also be frozen and stored for a few months.