Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Pear Cranberry Spice Cake
Its finally happened. It feels like winter in Southern California. Not just any winter mind you. This is Storm Watch 2010. While I love that I can finally FINALLY wear my many sweaters and jackets and coats, I have discovered that I lack the appropriate footwear for the occasion. It also doesn't help that I completely disregard whatever the weather people say. Unfortunately for my poor suede boots Dallas Rains was right today.
As I type it appears that the weather is about to pick up again. Gray, ominous clouds are beginning to cover my blue skies and the wind is going. Hopefully not strong enough for another Tornado Warning seeing as NO ONE HAS A BASEMENT or storm shelter. I think I would have to hide in my parent's closet should one strike. (Mine is full.)
Don't get me wrong though. I love the rain. I love the sound and playing in it. Most importantly though, I love staying inside and cooking anything that requires standing over a stove or having the oven on for a long time. Today is the day for spicy cakes, slow braises, and hot chocolate. By the end of the day I will have consumed all three.
For right now though, lets focus on the spicy cake. This cake features some of the best flavors of fall, pears and cranberries. As much as I LOVE the flavor of pears, overall I am not a fan of their texture (exempt from this rule? Asain Pears). While apples would be delicious in this cake as well, I loved the slight pear flavor. The cake remained moist for days and was just as good for breakfast as it was for dessert.
Pear Cranberry Cake
adapted from Gourmet Magazine
At my house we always have candied ginger laying around. I think it really compliments the flavor of the pears and adds a little more depth to the cake. I also added some walnuts for crunch. Normally nuts get left out of my baked goods but here I really liked them. For the glaze I did a basic powdered sugar glaze. I didn't want anything to compete with the flavor of the cake. Final note: apples can very easily be substituted for the pears. I'm also thinking about trying the recipe with cut up pineapple and upping the spices.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon finely minced candied ginger (optional)
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 Bosc pears (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 3/4-inch pieces (I used closer to 2 pounds)
1 cup cranberries
1 cup walnuts roughly chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter cake pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.
Beat together sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla with an electric mixer until combined well.
By hand, mix in pears, cranberries and walnuts, then mix in flour mixture until incorporated.
Spoon batter into pan.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
Cool in pan 30 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely.