I haven’t been cooking and baking all that much these last few months. Working full time, trying to figure out how to balance work life with family life, and where the cooking comes in is a puzzle. Getting a good meal on the table when you walk in the door after 7pm gets complicated. I have been experimenting with different ways to make the week easier. Some weeks I cook enough on Sunday to have something on the table in a different formation each night of the week. (A recipe I turn to again and again is Luci’s Macaroni and Cheese). Other times I prep and have things ready that I use as the foundation of meals throughout the week. This requires a little more work after you walk in the door, but I find it more satisfying. Check back frequently, I will be sharing my thoughts, recipes, and discoveries!
This Sunday night after Thanksgiving, I want to share with you a favorite cake that I have been making this fall. It is a perfect cake to have for the week. It is moist and it is delicious for breakfast, afternoon tea….(who am I kidding? who really has time for afternoon tea? unless it is at your desk!!) or a perfect light dessert.
There is something lovely about bosc pears, their slender and sophisticated shape, their luscious mouth feel when you have the absolutely perfectly ripe bite. My maternal grandfather used to eat them when they were one step away from no return…they would be brown and riddled with marks, but the flesh was soft and irresistible. This cake has become a favorite way of showing off their subtle flavor. The heady aroma of cardamom is intoxicating, the nutty flavor of the brown butter glaze, addictive. The recipe calls for roasting the pears before adding them to the batter, which adds a depth to the flavor in the cake.
Roasted Pear Cake with Brown Butter Icing
adapted from a recipe by Yossy Arefi
Makes one bundt
For the roasted pear cake:
2 1/2 pounds pears
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1 tablespoonful maple syrup
Juice from 1 lemon
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons cardamom
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
roasted pecans as a garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 375° F. Peel, core, and chop the pears into 1-inch pieces. Transfer the pears to a baking dish and toss them with sugar, salt, maple syrup, and lemon juice. Cover the dish with foil and bake the pears until they are soft and cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the foil from the dish and let the pears cool to room temperature and quickly pulse them in a food processor. Leave some larger bits of pear in the sauce. Measure out 2 cups of pear sauce and set aside. (Save the rest for the second cake you are going to want to bake for your best friend after you smell this one baking.) Turn the oven down to 350° F and butter and flour a bundt pan. Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices together in a bowl. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter, oil, and brown sugar together until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds in between each egg. Add the sour cream and pear sauce and stir to combine. Fold in the flour mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap the pan on the counter to release any air. Bake the cake until golden and cooked through, 50-60 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a rack to cool completely. Let cool before glazing, if desired.
For the browned butter glaze (optional)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
Pinch of kosher salt
Place the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Let the butter melt completely. It will begin bubbling. Continue to cook the butter, until it begins to smell nutty and darkens in color. Remove the butter from the heat and transfer it to a large bowl. Let cool slightly. Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar and a pinch of salt followed by enough milk to make a smooth, pourable glaze. If the glaze breaks or curdles, add a bit of warm water to help it re-emulsify. Pour the glaze over the cooled bundt and let harden slightly before slicing.