Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ginger Cake with Carmelised Pears

A slightly lemony, not-too-rich dessert.
From Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life (a birthday present from K.).

2 notes:
-I used organic pears so I didn't peel them, but if you dislike the feel of peel on a melty pear you may want to.
- In this recipe as with almost all the baking I do, I substitute all-purpose spelt flour for wheat flour with great results.
. . .

Fresh Ginger Cake with Carmelised Pears
Serves 6

for the cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp unsulphured molasses (M.W. notes not to use blackstrap or you'll get a "sad, sub-par cake")
1/4 cup sour cream
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp finely grated, peeled fresh ginger root
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

for the pears:
2 medium firm-ripe pears
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp brandy or bourbon

Set oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease an 8-inch round cake pan with butter or cooking spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Grease the paper too.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, combine the molasses, sour cream, butter, brown sugar, egg, ginger and lemon zest. Whisk until smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a rubber spatula.

Bake until a tester comes out clean, 15-20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on a rack and then invert onto a rack to cool to room temperature.
- - -
When you're ready to serve the cake, prepare the carmelised pears:

Carefully peel the pears and slice each lengthwise into 8 wedges, discarding the cores. Place them in a medium bowl and toss them with the lemon juice.

In a heavy pan just large enough to hold the pears in 1 layer -a 10-inch cast iron pan works well- melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pears and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, for 3 minutes. Sprinkle them with sugar and continue to cook another few minutes, shaking the pears in the pan and gently turning them, until the sugar is melted and the pears are tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears back to their bowl. If there's still lemon juice in the bowl that's ok. Leave it.

Still over medium heat, boil the sugar-butter mixture remaining in the pan, stirring occasionally until it begins to turn a deep shade of caramel. While the mixture cooks, combine the water and cream in a small bowl or cup. When the caramel is the right colour, carefully remove the pan from the heat and add the cream mixture, the brandy or bourbon and a generous pinch of salt.

Return the pan to the heat and simmer, stirring until thickened slightly. (If your caramel seized when you added the cream mixture just whisk it briskly until it's smooth again).

Serve the cake in wedges with a few slices of pear alongside and caramel drizzled over the top.

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