Saturday, October 4, 2008

Pear cake

I was going to call this "quick and easy pear cake," but the truth is that with all of the peeling and coring and slicing you have to do for the pears, it's not as quick as it might look at first glance. The good news is that if you're like me, you don't have any qualms about collecting the necessary items on the coffee table, plopping yourself down on the couch, and tackling the pears while watching TV. Please note, however, my common-sense recommendation that you do more listening than watching, especially if your pears are ripe and slippery. (I find that cakes taste better if their preparation isn't interrupted by a trip to the emergency room.) With that in mind, the task of peeling and cutting up pears is well suited to programming that doesn't require you to keep your eyes on the screen in order to keep up with what's going on... like a presidential or vice presidential candidate debate! 

Anyway, the recipe was in the farm newsletter from my parents' CSA box, and a quick search revealed that was in the January 2002 issue of Bon Appetit. It originally called for lemon zest instead of ginger (same amount, 1 tablespoon), and self-rising flour (1 1/2 cups) instead of the all-purpose + baking powder + salt combo, so feel free to revert to that version if you so choose. I think the ginger was quite nice, but I'm sure the lemon version is lovely as well--and probably a bit brighter.

Pear Cake
Makes one 9-inch-diameter cake
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil (it called for olive oil, and specified that one should not use extra-virgin; I used canola oil)
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2/3 cup + 1 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
~1.5 pounds ripe pears, or enough to give you 3-4 cups of sliced pears
You'll need some parchment paper, and a 9-inch-diameter cake pan with sides that are at least 1 1/2 inch high. Oil the pan lightly and dust it with flour, tapping out any excess. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375F. 
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, milk, and ginger until well blended. Add 2/3 cup sugar and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; add mixture to wet ingredients and stir until just combined (batter might be a bit lumpy, like muffin batter). Gently mix in pears. Transfer batter to pan--it will be rather thick--and smooth out, if necessary, so that it fills the pan. Sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. 
Bake cake until the top is brown and a cake tester comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. When ready to serve, run a sharp knife around edge of the cake to loosen. Place rack over pan, turn over so that cake is upside-down on rack, then invert onto platter. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve.


Brave Sir Robin said...

That does sound good.

I seldom do pears, but I do love them.

Hmm . . .

Anne said...

It's not flashy, but it's very tasty. And it seems to keep well--I'm on day 3 and it's still nice and moist. The only thing is that the pears are a bit of a pain to prepare.

Bee said...

This is just the sort of thing I like. Your description of cutting up pears made me laugh, as that was exactly what I was doing last week -- only with apples. I had bowls and dishtowels spread all over the living room floor, so that I could listen/watch to TV while I was peeling endless apples.

I'm going to make this one soon -- as we love our pears. We also love ginger, and I made the first seasonal batch of gingerbread this weekend. It was an all-whole-wheat version, from the King Arthur Whole Grains cookbook, and I was impressed with it. Wholesome and nutty, but moist, too. The recipe claims that you can eat it for breakfast . . . and we did!

Anne said...

I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who looks for entertainment while peeling apples! My mom has a clever apple-peeling/slicing contraption that latches onto the kitchen counter. You stick the apple on the end of a little fork, and turn the crank, and it peels and slices the apple for you! I find something rather relaxing in peeling them by hand, but inevitably, when I've gone through a pound or two (or three) and realize I'm only halfway done, I wish I had one of those little crank-driven tools.

Between you and Bakerina, I'm starting to think that I should get myself a copy of this King Arthur Whole Grains cookbook. The last recipe I made out of it (those cashew crunch cookies) was delicious, and now whole wheat gingerbread! In the meantime, might you be willing to share the recipe?

Ellen said...

Hi Annie! I made this cake last weekend. It was so yummy! Thanks for the recipe!

Ellen said...

oh man... I can't seem to post as not "Ms. Kruger" since that is my identity on my blog for my 7th and 8th grade classes... hee hee.

Anne said...

Ellen! Hi! Glad you enjoyed the cake. I'm tickled by the idea of you as "Ms. Kruger." :)