Have I told you that my kiddos are my biggest fans? Smart ones those guys - they know how to to get more treats :-) They squeal in delight when they walk by the computer and see me posting a recipe/picture. The squeal is especially high-pitched when it is something they really like. Well, this one got a almost-dropped-my-coffee, split my eardrum, gawd! decibel squeal.
I am a huge fan of fruit in baked goods. I like berry muffins, berry scones, apple cake, apple muffins, plum cake, peach coffecake, you get the point. I have made this cake with apples, and love it. But we had a glut of pears from the CSA and I decided to give it a go. And I really really like it. You could use a combination of apples and pears, but I'd go with one or the other. If you use pears, just be sure to use firm ones.
This is not a fancy wow-your-dinnerguests cake. This is a homey, comforting cake. Something that you make on a cold day to warm you up. The pears cook into a melt-in-your-mouth pudding like texture. I would happily eat this cake as a sweet finish to a weekend brunch, an afternoon snack, or the last course of a light dinner. Just set me up with a slice of the cake and a cup of coffee, and I am good to go.
As goes hardware, I would highly recommend a bundt or tube pan. The cake is very moist, and will certainly benefit from heat in the middle. Other tips -- make sure you let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Yes, I know that seems like eternity, but trust me, you want to wait. Unless you are ok with picking on a hunks of a broken cake.
If you'd like, you could dress-up the cake with a simple glaze. I like mine unadorned. Ok - maybe a dusting of sugar if you must!
Whole Wheat (60%) Pear Spice Cake
3 firm, but ripe pears, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
Juice from 2 oranges (approx 4 fl oz)
1 tbsp fresh orange zest
1 1/2 cups sugar (increase by 1/2 cup if you like your cake sweeter)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (you can use all-purpose if you want)
1 cup canola or grapeseed oil
4 large eggs
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a bundt or tube pan. Set aside.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients - flours, salt, baking powder, and spices -in medium bowl.
3. Beat sugar and oil together in bowl of stand mixer till well incorporated. Beat eggs lightly, and add one at a time, mixing well in between. Mix till fluffy and light in color. Add orange juice, orange zest, vanilla, and almond extract.
4. Set mixer to lowest setting and add dry ingredients. Mix just until batter is smooth.
5. Add 1/3rd of batter to the bundt pan. Add half the pears. Add another 1/3rd batter on top of the pears. Add remaining pears. Finish with last third of the batter.
6. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. This will take approximately 1 1/2 hours. Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes before serving.