Oh my. Where has the last week gone?
It's been a bit of a roller coaster, with unusual highs and lows, as well as all the normal bits of fun and dullness. There's been work, of course, a lovely evening of wine and pizza with good friends, stupid errands, vet and dentist appointments, Halloween, the election (sob!), and what was that other thing...
Oh yes, the World Series.
Now, as you know, I'm not a sports fan. But it's kind of a big deal when your hometown team makes it to the World Series--and then wins! Go Giants!
So the last week has been a bit of a blur--an orange and black blur, to be precise.
Yesterday I had a little time to catch my breath and in spite of the wacky warm weather we're enjoying (75 degrees in November?) I decided to bake a cake.
The recipe is originally from Dorie Greenspan, who I understand is beloved by all who bake. I have never made a Dorie Greenspan recipe, but her brown sugar cake had a number of things to recommend it: buttermilk, which makes everything wonderfully moist; brown sugar, of course (a whopping two cups!); and pears, of which I had a few languishing in the fruit basket. And the clincher: the recipe called for using my bundt pan, which I'm crazy about.
I did skip the prunes: why ruin a perfectly nice cake?
The cake was fragrant, delicious--and surprisingly not sugary. I had diced the pears very small so they practically melted into the batter. The cake would be fabulous with a simple icing or frosting (what wouldn't?) but I left it unadorned. So far, I have eaten it for dessert, breakfast, and an afternoon snack. It suited each of these occasions, and improved overnight. It traveled neatly with the husband to work, and its mild sweetness helped sooth my raw election wounds. What more could you ask for in a humble dessert? The country may be crumbling, but I've got cake.
Brown Sugar Bundt Cake
From Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup ground hazelnuts or walnuts (or 1/4 cup more all purpose flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
225 g / 8 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups lightly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pure almond extract (only if you're using the ground nuts)
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 medium pears, peeled, cored and diced (or substitute apple)
1/2 cup prunes, cut into 1/4 inch pieces (or substitute 1/2 cup raisins)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9- to 10-inch Bundt pan.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, nuts (if using), baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and the almond extract (if using). Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately - add the flour in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix only until the ingredients are incorporated and scrape down the bowl as needed. Turn off the mixer, and with a rubber spatula, stir in the pears and prunes. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
Bake in the center of the oven for 60 to 65 minutes (mine was done in 53--check the cake early!), or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. If at any point the cake is browning too fast, cover the top loosely with a piece of foil. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding, then cool to room temperature on the rack. Finish the top of the cake with icing sugar or a simple brown sugar glaze.
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