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Sunday
Sep302012

autumn pear cake

My dad brought by a bunch of pears in a paper sack.

About 30 pears he picked from a tree near his workshop.

I've been looking forward to these pears since he told me about that tree.

He dropped them off like it was no big deal, but, really, I've never been so happy about a bunch of pears.

Actually, I haven't even really bothered baking with pears much before this week.

I waited for them to ripen just a bit, get just the tiniest bit softer.

Then I began to bake.

I've been having fun in the kitchen lately. 

Lots of pie crust and pears and brandy-soaked raisins.

Ah, pie crust. 

This one right here, though...

was a tweak on one of my favorite cake recipes -- the peach cake

It's one of my all-time favorite cakes because it has all those things that I love...

moist cake and fruit, crunchy nuts and the best part -- a thin, outer crispy layer on all sides that you usually only find on fried stuff.

It's that fried-like crispiness that does it for me.

I ate much (most) of this cake literally with my hands.

I pulled off pieces at random times throughout the day.

We had it for breakfast and long after dinner.

And that icing is heavenly.

I poured mine on thick because my microwave broke (it's a goner, man) right before I needed to remelt the icing.

I reheated the icing in the oven in a cake pan (I was using all four of my stove burners to make chicken alfredo that night).

I pulled the icing out of the oven early. (I kept worrying it would burn/bake/sizzle/fry or just transform into something other than icing and I was out of butter so I obsessively checked on it until I finally gave up and pulled it out.). Of course, it was still pretty darn thick.

You can pour your icing on thick or drizzle it on thin -- either way, it's wonderful.

I browned my butter this time, too (browned butter -- the smell, the taste, the color -- is another one of my favorites).

Though, again, it's not necessary.

The ginger cream cheese icing is heavenly on this cake, this fall pear cake, whether or not you brown the butter.

Autumn Pear Cake

adapted from All Cakes Considered, by Melissa Gray 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chopped pears (about 4-5 pears, peeled)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3 tablespoons brandy or water
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Thoroughly butter a Bundt pan, then lightly sprinkle with flour, tapping out excess (I've learned the hard way that a good buttering and light flour is ABSOLUTELY necessary with a Bundt!). 

In small bowl, combine raisins and brandy or water and cover. Microwave for 20 seconds. Set aside to soak.

In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

In large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and oil just until combined. Lightly whisk the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until only about half combined. 

Drain and discard excess liquid from raisins. Fold raisins, pears and walnuts into batter along with remaining streaks of flour. Do not overmix.

Pour into prepared Bundt pan. Bake for about 50 minutes, until toothpick inserted into cake comes out with barely a crumb attached.

Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then carefully invert onto rack to cool completely. 

Once cool, drizzle with icing (see recipe below). Serve warm or at room temperature for dessert or breakfast.

Store at room temperature, only lightly covered or under a cake dome.

Ginger Cream Cheese Icing

Note: You can opt to brown the butter or not. Browning adds an extra dimension of flavor, but both ways are delicious. 

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 

If browning the butter, place butter in saucepan and brown over medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes, until it reaches a golden brown color and smells wonderful.

Combine cream cheese and butter and stir or beat together. Add vanilla, confectioners' sugar and ginger and stir or beat together until completely combined.

Melt in microwave in 30 seconds bursts until the icing is of desired drizzling consistency. 

Drizzle over cake.

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