This is post 102--wow!!
Since Zetta is the one who came up with the idea of pear-spice cake, I decided to bake one up for her.
November 10, 2006
Name of cake: Spicy Pear Zetta
Occasion: Another excuse to bake!
Constituents: Pear-Spice Cake with Golden Cream Cheese Frosting and chopped toasted walnuts
The recipe was aptly titled "Pear Spice Cake." It came from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book, and it was the recipe just before the spice cake recipe I used in last week's Spicy Blessings cupcakes.
However, it was much, much tastier.
The cool baking thing about this cake was that it didn't call for any liquid--no milk, no water, no oil, nothing. It also called for all-purpose flour, which tends to produce a coarser cake.
A couple of years ago I decided to make up my own apple-spice cake recipe for a September birthday party. I took RLB's yellow cake recipe, added a bunch of spices to it, chopped up a honeycrisp apple or two, tossed them in flour, mixed them into the cake batter and baked up a couple of 9-inch cake layers. Which tasted good, but were pretty mushy/soggy on the bottoms. I had wondered about all the excess moisture of the fresh apples, and didn't really know what to do about it. (Well, I was too lazy to figure out what to do about it.)
This recipe figured out what to do about it. Granted we are talking pears, not apples, but the same principal applies: very juicy fruit. So this recipe turned out a thick, stiff batter made with a coarser flour to absorb and hold the juiciness from the fruit. Which it did. Once I began to stir in the pears, the whole batter became softer and, well, wetter.
I baked this cake at the clinic so I cleverly pre-measured all the ingredients, packed up the flour-oil spray, the fine mesh colander, the baking pan, the balloon whisk and my new special baking only silicone spatula, the recipe, and the ingredients, including the rest of the golden cream cheese that I had frozen for later use. I did forget to pack my beloved Nielsen-Massey pure bourbon madagascar vanilla extract, but Zetta made me go to her house and get her extract. So all was okay.
Beating up a cake without a mixer is really labor intensive. Creaming butter and sugar by hand is a special kind of torture. A word to the wise: Don't use the balloon whisk to cream butter, my friends. The butter collects inside the whisk as if it is afraid of being creamed, and it only comes out when you poke at it between the tines. Use your favorite, for baking only green silicone spatula. Also, bring an apron or something so that you don't get butter and sugar and flour all over your work shirt.
By the way, I used the golden cane sugar again, and MAN o man, the sugar and butter smelled so good--it had a spicy, molassesy, almost floral scent to it. Aaah. It made the arm fatigue and messy shirt worthwhile.
The awesome part about baking at the clinic is that our fully functional kitchen doubles as our medicinary and office, so having the oven on and pumping out heat keeps the kitchen/medicinary/office nice and toasty. That, and knowing that our clients are smelling CAKE while they get acupuncture treatments.
This cake is my favorite of the spice cake extravaganza that I have been going through. The cake was moist, and full of big chunks of pear (I interpreted "finely chopped fresh pears" as "cubed chunks"). The cake was spicy, but not out of control, and the cream cheese frosting with the toasted walnuts was an excellent finish. As an alternate, a caramel drizzle would have been good, too. Or maybe a cinnamon whipped cream. Or nothing at all--this cake was that tasty.
I think this will be last of the spice cakes for this season...I mean four rounds in three weeks has got to be enough, so next week I'm making a devil's food cake with coffee buttercream and toffee chunks. Stay tuned, cake eaters!