Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Spiced Pearsauce Cake

This is another recipe from the "I need something to take to a work breakfast collection." It's probably my favourite breakfast cake that I've made in a while (although with cream cheese frosting perhaps it's not breakfast appropriate). As soon as I saw it on Smitten Kitchen, I knew I had to make it. Of course, a reasonable person would not be baking another cake after making two cheesecakes (and brisket) the day before. But then again, most reasonable people probably don't purchase nearly 2kg of cream cheese within the span of a week. This recipe was definitely worth baking again ... it's moist, flavourful, and delicious.

In terms of adaptation, I went with a pearsauce version or this cake. Originally, I had planned on buying unsweetened applesauce, but then one of my dinner party guests had to go and make homemade applesauce ... with citrus, spices, and rum! My experience with applesauce is mostly limited to childhood memories of being sick and eating a tiny bit out of a small plastic cup, but this applesauce was different ... and amazing! I couldn't very well go and buy applesauce with such delicious applesauce leftovers sitting in the fridge, but I also didn't want to go through the hassle of trying to adjust the batter to sweetened, spiced applesauce. As option C, I decided to make my own pearsauce. I followed the recipe offered on SK, but simmered it a bit longer uncovered because it seemed a little watery. The directions for making pearsauce are included with the recipe below, but feel free to substitute applesauce. Also, please note that this makes more pearsauce than you need for the cake ... I'm too lazy to try to estimate how to scale down to the right amount!

Spiced Pearsauce Cake (adapted from Smitten Kitchen, from Gourmet)

For pearsauce
1 3/4 pounds pears
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 cups water
For cake
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (218 grams) packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (365 grams) unsweetened pearsauce (recipe included)
1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts, toasted, cooled, and chopped
For frosting
5 ounces (142 grams) cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces or 42 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces or 120 grams) confectioners sugar
1/2 (1 teaspoon) teaspoon cinnamon

1. Peel, halve, core and de-stem pears. Chop them in half again if they are particularly large.
2. Place pears in a medium saucepan with balsamic and water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer; cook with the lid on for 30 minutes, or until the pears are very tender.
3. Puree with immersion blender. Simmer for another 10 or 15 minutes uncovered if the sauce seems watery.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan. (Now's a good time to toast those walnuts for 10 minutes in the oven.)
5. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
6. Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
7. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in pearsauce.
8. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in walnuts.
9. Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.
10. Make frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy.
11. Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated.
12. Spread frosting over top of cooled cake.

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