A spicy pear cake, lovely for dessert, tea time or even breakfast.
By Carol Egbert
When I began to paint, my primary subjects were pears. No matter how imperfect my rendering, the shape was distinctive enough that neither Charles, nor my sons, said things like “Nice apple,” or even worse “What’s that?” At the market, I carefully chose each pear for its color or shape; pears were subjects, to be painted, not fruit to be eaten. Those days are gone, now I think that pears are to be eaten, any time of the day. Recently, I stirred pieces of pear into oatmeal for breakfast, made a simple lunch by putting a pear, a chunk of cheese and a piece of crusty bread on a plate, served roasted pears at dinner with sauteed flounder filet, and baked a pear cake studded with walnuts, crystallized ginger and poppy seeds for tea time. Serving whole or sliced pears is effortless, roasting pears is nearly as easy.
It was my friend Peter who introduced me to roasted pears. He served them as a minor, side dish in an extraordinary dinner that featured a perfectly roasted goose. He shared his recipe as we enjoyed a creamy, frozen lemon mousse and warned that step #3 was the most difficult. Here it is in his words:
Peter’s Roasted Pears
“I’ve found that red Bartlett pears are the best for roasting.
There are nine steps.
- Buy one pear for each serving.
- Make sure the oven is turned on. It can be set at anything from 300º to 425º.
- Remove the pesky, sticky little label from on each pear. Be thorough, some pears have TWO!
- Wash pears.
- Place pears in a container large enough to hold them in a single layer. Do not use a container that will melt or catch fire.
- Put pears into hot oven. Remember to close oven door.
- Bake until tender. (20 to 35 minutes)
- Serve with a knife and fork.
- Share this recipe.
Each step is crucial to insure success.”
Roasted pears are scrumptious, I make them a couple of times a week and have found step 9 to be a great pleasure. Although Peter recommends red Bartlett pears I have successfully roasted red and green Anjou and Bartlett pears
- 3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3 Tablespoons poppy seeds
- ⅔ cups (100g) chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup crystallized ginger, minced
- ¾ cup (160g) unsalted butter
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1½ cups (300g) sugar
- 3 pears, peeled and grated to make 2 cups (500ml)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175º C - Gas mark 4) and grease and floured a 10-inch (25 cm) Bundt pan.
- Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, poppy seeds, walnuts and crystallized ginger in a large mixing bowl and set it aside.
- Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, and beat after each addition.
- Add grated pears and vanilla.
- Turnmixer to low, and add dry ingredients. Mix until there are no streaks of flour.
- Spoon batter into pan and put it into the center of the preheated oven.
- Bake 65 minutes in my oven, the cake was browned and firm on top and a toothpick inserted in the center came out dry.
Carol Egbert is a writer, painter, graphic designer and cook. Her studio is on a country lane in rural Vermont. During mud season she escapes, for a couple of months, to a flat in Sicily overlooking the Ionia Sea. Her newspaper columns, magazine articles and blog are illustrated with her watercolor paintings – Honest Cooking means beautiful food.