Friday, January 4, 2013

Pear Flake Cake for New Year's Day

I made this cake for a New Year's Day afternoon gathering of friends with little kids. The snowflake shape of the cake was both fun and seasonal. Because of the attractive shape, it doesn't need frosting so it's easier, less chance of 2 year olds smearing buttercream on the furniture, and light enough for an afternoon treat without necessarily feeling like dessert. 
I used the applesauce cake recipe that I've made previously, but substituted homemade pear sauce that I'd made with bartlett pears. I baked the full recipe in my snowflake shaped pan, which was a little risky for a couple of reasons: it is often difficult to get cakes out of the shaped pans in one piece! And because this recipe was intended to be baked in two round pans, baking all the batter together might result in the inside not cooking through or the outside getting dry. That is a bit what happened, as one friend who ate from the middle told me it was a little underdone, though she claimed that was a positive "feature."

I drizzled it with white chocolate glaze and sprinkled with some Swedish pearl sugar. I like the flavor of the cake a lot, though if I try to bake it in this pan again, I will only fill it half-full so that it can bake through completely without getting overdone.

Pear Sauce
makes 2 cups
2 large, ripe Bartlett pears (about 1 pound)
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cinnamon stick
4 allspice berries
1/2 chunk fresh ginger
Peel, core and chop fruit into 1/2 pieces or smaller. Mix with remaining ingredients in heavy saucepan, cover, and simmer until fruit is very soft, 20-25 minutes. Remove spices and puree fruit with an immersion blender until very smooth. Continue to heat uncovered at a simmer, stirring regularly to prevent burning, until consistency is thick.

Pear Sauce Cake
adapted from Warren Brown
5 ounces unsalted butter, softened
15 ounces sugar
3 eggs
12 ounces all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup milk
1 cup pearsauce (see recipe above)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans, preferably with removable bottoms (or line pans with parchment).

Combine butter and sugar in stand mixer and beat until well creamed. Beat in eggs one at a time.

Mix together milk, vanilla, and apple butter in one small bowl, and dry ingredients separately in another bowl. Add to butter mixture alternately in 3 additions. Divide evenly between prepared pans and bake 30-35 minutes, until tops are golden and start to pull away from sides of pan. Cool in pan 15 minutes, then invert to racks and cool completely.

White Chocolate Glaze
3 ounces white chocolate
1/2 cup cream

Heat cream to simmer. Chop chocolate. Pour cream over chocolate and allow to rest one minute, then stir until smooth. Cool slightly, then use as a drizzle, or chill and spread over cake. Keeps in the fridge for 2 weeks or in the freezer. Delicious eaten cold with a spoon!

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