Friday, September 24, 2010
Spiced Pear Cake
Yay! Autumn is here! This is my absolute favorite time of year. I love the crisp breezes. The rustling of the leaves (and since we live in the woods with about a million trees, there are lotsa leaves!). The beautiful, earthy colors. The smell of burning leaves. Apple cider. Pumpkins. Deeply comforting foods that seep all the way to my bones. Fall decorations adorning my home. Mulled Cider candles burning. The sense of deep contentment that washes over me during this season like no other time of year. The chance to celebrate 3 of my 4 children's birthdays. Jeans. Boots. Skinny jeans tucked inside of boots. :)
This is also a time of year when I like to hole up in my kitchen and cook and bake away. (You might be thinking that I do this regardless of the season--you're probably right!!) So, today, I took a much needed break from my other intense activities and commitments and with a hot cup of coffee in hand, set out to do some baking. The bread machine is going and the oven is on. Spiced pear cake is the perfect way to marry the remnants of summer's fruit with the spices and flavors of fall. Perfect. Despite my crazy-busy schedule this fall, I fully intend to get "down and dirty" with lots of apples and pumpkins, and you can bet I will be passing these luscious flavors on to you! I don't know about you, but there is something deeply satisfying and homey about creating culinary jewels of seasonal flavors in the comfort of one's own kitchen. Will you join me?!
*Disclaimer--The sprig of greenery, although it is apple-y, is part of my fall decor. Apples are not to be confused with pears. :)
**My crap camera failed to capture the delicious detail of this cake. ;/ Make this anyway.
Spiced Pear Cake
adapted from Sophitismom
4 ripe pears, peeled and cut in chunks
3 tbl. granulated sugar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour
Cream Cheese Glaze (recipe is below)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray 1 regular loaf pan or 4 mini loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray and place on a baking sheet. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine pear chunks and 3 tbl. of sugar, and lemon juice. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the pears soften and break apart. You can help them along by smashing them with a potato masher, or just cook until they get soft on their own. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of pear sauce and set aside to cool.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and the brown sugar. Mix on high until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, incorporating well after each addition. Add in vanilla, and beat on medium high speed for 4 minutes. Mix in sour cream.
In a small bowl, combine spices, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients to butter and sugar mixture. Mix until just incorporated. Stir in reserved pear sauce. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake tester comes out dry. Frost when cooled.
Cream Cheese Glaze
3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons heavy cream
Mix all ingredients together, adding more or less cream to reach desired consistency.