It seems every time I bake with a pear it’s because it’s on the verge of turning to sweet slush in the fruit bowl. This isn’t a cake for new arrivals from the supermarket – its for those pears that have evolved, ripened beyond any other usability. Grating them – don’t bother peeling their thin, delicate skins – turns them into a sloshy, slurpy pile of almost pear sauce that’s perfect for moist cakes, muffins and loaves. Make sure you grate them onto a plate with a rim, to capture all that juice.
I like a dense, damp, not-too-sweet cake with a crackly edge. And I like that unlike with layer cakes, you can eat a wodge of bundt – or a sliver – with your fingers. (OK, you can do that with layer cakes too, but it’s a messier a challenge.) And don’t you love dribbling icing over a bundt cake and letting it run down its crannies?
You have a choice of flavour profiles here: a shake of cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg or the like makes a warm spiced cake, reminiscent of apple pie. Or let the flavour of pear and vanilla stand out by leaving out the spice and upping the vanilla to a tablespoon. Or turn it into a ginger-pear cake by whisking a tablespoon of grated fresh ginger into the oil-egg mixture, and perhaps a teaspoon of peppery powdered ginger into the dry ingredients. It’s three three three cakes in one.
I know we just had browned butter frosting, but it seemed like a perfect pairing here. I had been thinking about Gina’s comment about the last browned butter frosted cake and how hers came out firmer, which I’ve had happen when making this sort of icing – it can turn into something that more closely resembles fudge. Cruising around looking at pear cakes, I came across Lori’s pear loaf cakes with – browned butter icing! And I loved her back and forth drizzling style – it’s like cake abstract art. This particular dribble tastes intensely of browned butter and sugar, and after a soft stint solidifies into essentially smooth, creamy fudge. Try not to pick it all off the top of the cake – it won’t look as pretty.
But it will still taste great.