ANYHOW. to lighten the mood after this week's barn collapse, yeah? the promised PEAR CAKE
the recipe was from a Lund's book, I modified to my tastes.
1 1/2 c. unbleached flour
1 tsp cinnamon (can replace this with nutmeg)
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups raw sugar (can replace with turbinado or rock sugar)
3 large eggs, room temperature
4 TBSP brandy (may use pear brandy)
1/3 cup milk
Ripe pear: peeled, seeds removed, cut into 1/3 inch chunks (I use half of a large Asian pear, or 3 Seckel pears)
1/2 cup wolfberries*
CARAMEL SAUCE INGREDIENTS:
3/4 c raw sugar
1/2 c water
1/2 cup & 2 TBSP heavy cream
5 TBSP unsalted butter
1 tsp good quality sea salt (like fleur de sel)
*=wolfberries are also known as goji berries. they can be found, always dried, at any Asian market with Chinese herbal ingredients. you could realistically substitute any other small dried berry - raisins, blueberries, cranberries - but I prefer wolfberries for their herbal value and tart flavour.
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 9-inch round cake pan, and dust with smattering of flour. Mix flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a biggish mixing bowl. Set the wolfberries in a small bowl with 2 1/2 TBSP brandy to soak for at least 10 minutes.
2. Mix butter and sugar in a big mixing bowl and cream (easiest to use electric mixer on medium) until fluffy, about 3 minutes for a mixer.
3. with the mixer on low, beat the eggs in, one at a time. Scrape the edges of the bowl after each. Stir in 1 1/2 TBSP brandy. Stir in a third of the flour mix until incorporated, then add half the milk. Repeat, ending with the last bit of flour, and mix until it's just combined.
4. Drain the wolfberries and gently pat them dry with a paper towel. Add the berries and pear chunks to the batter and stir.
5. Scrape the batter into the cake pan and smooth the top out with a spatula. Bake until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out just barely clean, about 40-50 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then invert it. Gently flip it right-side-up to cool on a wire rack for at least one hour.
1. Mix sugar and water in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to boil. No, get that candy thermometer out of there, just watch it. Continue to let it boil until it turns amber (or more brownish, if you are using rock sugar). Don't stir it. Resist. If some is turning darker before the rest (burning), just tilt the pan to move it about.
2. When the syrup is all amber (or brown), stir in the cream with a long wood spoon. When the bubbling has subsided, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the butter and salt until the butter is all mixed in. Transfer to a big heatproof pitcher (like a big Pyrex measuring cup) and let cool to "warm" before using. This well let the sauce thicken a bit as well.
1. Cut cake into wedges, and drizzle the caramel sauce over it. You can use a bunch if you want. You may also lick the plate. It's okay. I did it. If you really want to get fancy, serve it with ice cream made with vanilla bean (the kind with black flecks!) - drizzle ice cream with caramel too.
2. If there's any leftovers, put the cake in a sealed container, or tightly wrap in plastic wrap, and store at room temperature. Keeps for about 3 days. The sauce can be left in its pitcher, cover in plastic wrap, and store in the fridge. Microwave to reheat.