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A Charm Bracelet of Flavors
“There’s a capacity for appetite, Samuel said, that a whole heaven and earth of cake can’t satisfy.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
This is quite the cake, easy to make and immensely satisfying. This pound cake wears a charm bracelet of flavors that sparkle with each bite. Rich, with a dense crumb little surprises of lush pears, a hint of vanilla, brown sugar and a trio of oranges jangle on it’s charm bracelet of intrigue. This is one of those cakes that beg for a second slice. It is just as good on the second day as the first. As for the third day, I have no knowledge as the whole cake has vanished by then.
This recipe holds a place of notoriety in my big, black three ring-binder of dessert recipes. When I want to bake a cake with pears this is the recipe I use. The notes of caramel from the brown sugar are the rich and moist foundation of this cake. I’ve changed the recipe over time by adding the candied orange peel and increasing the zest. By reducing the quantity of butter and eggs I’ve made a lighter pound cake without sacrificing any of the original flavor. Pasted on a sheet of paper I’m not quite sure of it’s origin. I found a similar recipe here.
Zest and juice a couple of oranges for this cake. It is worth the investment of time. I have been tempted to add candied ginger to the recipe but after I added the candied orange peel I knew the recipe was complete. There is nothing else to add; it is completely delicious. I used Comice pears, which can be very juicy and still had excellent results. Any firm yet ripe pears will yield an outstanding cake.
One of the baking tips from The Bouchon Bakery Cookbook that I now use is to freeze my greased baking pan and then dust with flour just before baking. This assists in the release of baked goods from their pan. I offer this as a suggestion to use in this recipe since this cake is full of fresh fruit which tends to stick to the pan. Although a few caramelized pears may stick to the baking pan I stand by the recipe. If that happens, make sure to unstick the pears with a spoon and enjoy them while they are warm from the oven.
|3-1/2C/440gr||all purpose flour|
|1C/226gr||unsalted butter, softened|
|2 C/235gr||peeled, diced pears|
|2T/30gr||finely minced candied orange peel|
- Heat oven to 350°. Grease a large tube or Bundt pan. Place the prepared pan in the freezer while making the cake batter.
- In a medium size mixing bowl sift or shake through a large sieve the dry ingredients: flour, baking power and salt. Set aside.
- In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter until softened and creamy, 1-2 minutes. Add the brown sugar and mix for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the ingredients are combined. Add the vanilla extract, orange zest and then the eggs one at a time. Mix thoroughly to combine after each egg is added. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk and orange juice, mixing just until combined. Take care not to over mix. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and gently fold in the pears and candied orange peel. Once again, stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the ingredients are combined.
- Retrieve the pan from the freezer and dust with flour. Fill the prepared pan with the batter no more than three quarters full. Bake for 60-70 minutes. Tent the cake with foil during the last 10 minutes of baking if it is browning too quickly. When the cake is done it will be a tawny golden brown and a cake tester will come out clean. The cake will have pulled away from the edges of the pan. Cool the cake on a wire rack for 15 minutes and then invert to remove from the pan. Cool completely before glazing.
- Prepare the glaze by mixing together the powdered sugar, juice and zest. Drizzle over the cooled cake.