Baking is my go-to activity when I need to relax. I love the methodical nature of measuring out and mixing, one by one, each ingredient before the cake goes into the oven.
I relish the baking time as a chance to sit and appreciate the cinnamon, or chocolate, or lemon smell wafting out of the oven. And, of course, I adore the moment where the cake is finally ready. Then, it bounces back just right; the tester comes out clean; it’s a beautiful golden brown; and I know I’ve made something wonderful.
I think at that point you’re usually supposed to “wait” and let the cake “cool” or something, but I usually just sneak a bite because I’m impatient.
I bookmarked this recipe the second I saw the title. Roasted pear? Brown butter? Crème fraiche? I was sold before I even finished reading; it seemed like they randomly generated this cake from a list of “Lindsey’s Baking Buzzwords”.
When I finally got around to making this, I was so glad I did. After a long week of classwork and lab, the first thing I wanted to do on Saturday was open the blinds, let in the morning light, and bake something delicious.
After I made this cake, I realized I actually had no one to pawn it off on. My roommates were away for the weekend, and I thought the cake was simply too good to wait until Monday afternoon when I could bring it to class.
So…I ate most of the cake myself. Whoops?
Whatever. I don’t regret it at all.
Roasted Pear Cake with Brown Butter Glaze and Creme Fraiche
This cake has quite a few steps, but every single one is worth it. The roasted pear sauce is delicious — pick up an extra pear or three and double the amount you make. You won’t regret it. Even if you don’t double the pear sauce, you will still end up with a bit extra. I mixed it into my oatmeal the next morning. After that and a slice of this cake for breakfast, I was so ready to take on the week. As a final note, I halved the original recipe to fit a loaf pan. Feel free to double the recipe below if you, unlike me, have a bundt pan in your baking arsenal.
1 1/4 lbs pears
1.5 tbsp water
1.5 tbsp granulated sugar
Juice from half a lemon
1.5 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/6 cup creme fraiche (or plain yogurt,
for the poor students like me)
Preheat oven to 375F. Peel (I didn’t, fiber is good for you), core, and chop the pears into 1-inch pieces. Place the pears in a baking dish and toss with water, granulated sugar, and lemon juice. Cover with foil and bake the pears until soft and cooked through, 25 to 30 mins. Uncover the pears and let cool. Then, mash until applesauce consistency, but leave some large chunks in the sauce. Measure out 1 cup of pear sauce for the cake, and save the rest for later…or now (it’s so delicious, even on its own). Turn down the oven to 350F and grease the loaf pan.
Whisk the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, and spices) together in a small bowl. Beat the butter, oil, and brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg and mix well. Add creme fraiche and pear sauce, and stir to combine. Fold in dry ingredients. Pour batter into pan; bake for 55 to 65 mins. While cake is baking, brown butter in a small saucepan. When it smells nutty and irresistible, remove from heat, transfer to another bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in confectioner’s sugar and a pinch of salt, as well as milk (little by little) until it forms a smooth glaze. Let cake cool and glaze. The glaze may or may not harden in time for you to wait to eat a slice, but don’t worry. The mess is worth it.