Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Roasted pear cake with browned butter glaze

Because I read a lot of American food blogs, sometimes I get a bit out of sync with the seasons. Lately online it's been all about turkey and cider and staying in where it's warm, when here in Sydney it's time for tee shirts, swims (to cool off) and summer fruit. I had my first mango for the season this week and it was magic. But! I wasn't waiting til next year to try this cake, especially when pears are so readily available everywhere. Caramel in colour and flavour with its combination of sweet fruit and sticky brown sugar, this cake is undeniably autumnal. The oil/butter blend makes for an extraordinarily soft and smooth texture, with chunks of pear nestled into the crumb for contrast. Warm spices - cardamom and cinnamon - infuse everything and the brown butter glaze is the perfect nutty note to end it all on. If a cake can be cosy, this is it.

Roasted pear cake with browned butter glaze
Recipe by Yossy Arefi for Food52

I used half the quantity of pears below, intending to make a smaller cake, but found that yielded exactly the 2 cups of pear purée needed for the full cake, which of course I then made without hesitation. If you can't find crème fraîche easily, you can make it yourself with cream and some yoghurt if you have a few days lead time. Click here to learn how.

For the roasted pear cake:

2 1/2 pounds pears
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons sugar
juice from 1 lemon
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking (bicarb) soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons cardamom
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup crème fraîche

Preheat oven to 375° F.
Peel, core, and chop the pears into 1-inch pieces. Transfer to a baking dish and toss them with the water, sugar, and lemon juice. Cover the dish with foil and bake til pears are soft and cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes.  
Remove the foil from the dish and let the fruit cool to room temperature then mash them with a potato masher or a fork. Leave some larger bits of pear in the sauce. Measure out 2 cups of pear sauce and set aside. If there are leftovers, seal in a ziplock bag and freeze for future cakes!
Turn the oven down to 350° F and grease and flour a bundt tin.
Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices together in a bowl.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter, oil, and brown sugar together until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure the first egg is fully incorporated before adding the second. Add the crème fraîche and pear sauce and stir to combine. Fold in the flour mixture. Pour the batter into the tin and tap the tin on the counter to prevent air bubbles.
Bake the cake until golden and cooked through, 55 to 65 minutes. 
Let the cake cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a rack to cool completely before glazing.

For the browned butter glaze:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
1 1/2 cups confectioners' (icing) sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
pinch salt
Place the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Let the butter melt completely. It will begin bubbling. When it begins to smell nutty and darkens in color, remove from the heat and transfer it to a large bowl. Let cool slightly.  
Whisk in the confectioners' sugar and a pinch of salt followed by enough milk to make the mixture smooth and pourable. If the glaze breaks or curdles, add a bit of warm water to help it re-emulsify. Pour over the cooled bundt and let harden slightly before slicing.

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