A Golden Cake for the Holidays – Fragrant with Spice and Bartlett Pears…
Spiced Yogurt Cake with Bartlett Pears
Bartlett Pears on a Turquoise Plate
I love getting up early on a winter morning and baking in a sunlit kitchen. To me, the scent of fresh baked goods, coffee and fragrant, warm spices makes a house feel comforting and homey. So this morning, when my cat nudged me awake before the sunrise, I started a fire in the wood stove and began throwing open the cupboards and canisters.
Fruit from the fall harvest is still plentiful at my local orchards and markets, and as you may have noticed, I have been enjoying it ! Although I have been writing a great deal about heirloom apples lately, in truth I have a great weakness for all fall fruit – and I am particularly fond of pears. Simply gazing upon their blushing, golden beauty as they bask in the early morning light on my table, I find them absolutely irresistible. Sometimes I will buy a few pears, intending to poach or bake with them, and then I will eat them all before the weekend. The flesh of this sweetly perfumed fruit has such a beautiful, delicate texture, usually I can not control myself. But this time I bought a dozen Bartlett pears at the market, enough for baking as well as for impulse-pleasure.
Last week I mentioned my fondness for Marion Cunningham’s delightful Breakfast Book. Marion’s collection of recipes includes many delicious coffee and breakfast cakes. Also last week, while visiting one of my favorite cooking blogs, Clotilde Dusoulier’s Chocolate and Zucchini, I found a slightly different twist on a much loved, basic coffee cake from Marion’s book. Gateau au Yaourt is a simple and easily modified French cake recipe. Clotilde posted a variation on this yogurt cake with apples and maple sugar, (in honor of her nephew’s first birthday – we are both new aunts, and I was excited to read that she takes this as seriously as I do!). I tried this cake and I absolutely loved it. So, this morning I decided to combine Clotilde and Marion’s recipes together, adding fresh Bartlett pears atop the cake, and the result is quite delightful, (I am enjoying a slice with coffee as I write to share this with you). I think the subtle, exquisite flavor of Bartlett pears works perfectly with this recipe – it’s a simple, easy-to-make treat for this wintery, holiday season.
I am so enamored of Clotilde’s cookbooks that I have ordered several copies to give as holiday gifts this year. Her blog is fantastic, and I was hoping to attend her book signing in New York in order to meet her, but we were hit with a severe snow storm and I was unable to drive to the city. Sigh. Next time! Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris is her latest collection of wonderful recipes. Her instructions are always easy to follow and her style of writing is both clear and entertaining. I could go on and on, but I am sorry, I need to finish eating my slice of cake !
Spiced Yogurt Cake with Bartlett Pears
(with the French influence of Clotilde Dusoulier and American Marion Cunningham)
2 Â Â Â Â eggs
1 Â Â Â Â cup whole milk yogurt (or use sour cream, as Marion does)
1 Â Â Â Â cup sugar
1/3Â Â Â cup butter, melted (or use vegetable oil, as Clotilde does)
1 Â Â Â Â teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Â Â Â Â tablespoon light rum (I used Puerto Rican golden rum)
2 Â Â Â Â cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2Â teaspoon baking powder
1/2Â Â Â teaspoon baking soda
3 Â Â Â Â ripe Bartlett pears, cored and sliced in thin wedges
dashÂ fresh ground nutmeg
dashÂ fresh ground cinnamon
butter for greasing pan
Warm oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and set aside. Core and thinly slice three ripe Bartlett pears to wedges. Set aside. Grease a 10″ round, ceramic pan or cake dish with butter.Â Mix yogurt, eggs, vanilla, rum, sugar and melted butter in a large bowl.Â In a smaller bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet and blend until just mixed. Pour mix into the greased pan. Arrange sliced pears in a circle atop the cake and sprinkle with fresh ground nutmeg and cinnamon.
Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and test with a stick for doneness. Let the cake sit for 15 minutes before removing from the pan or serving.
When mixing the ingredients, remember that a few lumps are OK – best not to overwork the batter…
I sliced Bartlett pears into thin wedges and arranged them in a spiral atop the cake. A dusting of fresh ground nutmeg and cinnamon topped things off before I set it into the hot oven…
Bartlett pears look so beautiful on my table, it is almost like having Cezanne to breakfast.
Two favorite cook books from Clotilde …
Click here for:Â Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris
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