This week’s cake came from an overabundance of pears. It happens to us all from time to time. We go to the store. We need some fruit, so we buy some. Maybe more than we need because it is cheaper to buy the three pound bags of fruit than it is to pay the select your own price. However, life is busy and we bought other fruit at the store, too. This always results in a few pieces hanging around that we need to “do something with” before they go bad, but no one is willing to do the obvious and just eat them. This must be how cobblers and crisps got their start. Another alternative is to make this cake.
This is a super easy cake. If your butter is fairly soft (like mine was not because it is winter and room temperature butter is cold here), you can even mix this cake up without turning on your mixer. I did not bother to peel the pears since I had bartletts and they are thin skinned. If you have pears with thicker skin, I would recommend peeling. Also, other fruits would be good here. The original recipe called for purple prune plums, but cherries would be good as well as peaches.
Ours was gone so fast that I did not have a chance to get a photo of a single slice for you. You’ll just have to make one for yourself to see it.
PEAR ALMOND TORTE
adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook
1 cup (5 ounces) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar plus 1 additional Tablespoon for topping
1 Tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3-4 ripe pears, cored and sliced into 1/2 inch wedges
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
a handful of sliced almonds
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch springform pan.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.
- Cream the butter and 1 cup of sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
- Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and then add the eggs and almond extract.
- Spread the batter in the pan evenly.
- Arrange the pears on tope of the batter in concentric circles. Push them into the batter a little.
- Sprinkle the lemon juice, cinnamon, and almonds over the top of the cake.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean.
- Cool on a rack. Then unmold and enjoy with tea or coffee.
It seems ages since I have made a cake. The last two months of the year were all about cookies and after that, all I made was bread. Lots of bread. My freezer is so chock full of bread that when I open the door, bread falls out. Not a terrible problem to have, but I decided that I had had enough of cookies and bread. What I need now in the new year is cake.
This particular cake is an adaptation of a recipe from Flo Braker’s Book, Baking for All Occasions. She calls for a tangerine, which I did not have on hand today and a different mixing method than the one I employ. Otherwise, the recipe is just about the same.
The first time I made this cake, I had a lot of trouble getting the almond paste to break up into bits. I must have had a really dried out package. In any case, the resulting cake was filled with bits of dense almond paste and, while it wasn’t terrible, it was not the texture I was hoping for. Since then, whenever a recipe calls for almond paste, I always stick it into the food processor with any sugar that is called for in the recipe.
It does a wonderful job of breaking up even the most stubborn bits of almond paste. and it also incorporates a little air which I think helps lighten the texture of the cake.
The rest of the process follows your basic creaming method for making a cake batter.
Once the cake is baked, a most yummy glaze is applied that gives it a beautiful appearance and helps to seal in the moisture of the cake.
A slice of this cake with a cup of tea will brighten any cold wintry day. And, since this cake is of the pound cake category, it is an excellent keeper. It’s possible that it even tastes better a day or two later than it does on the first day.
The combination of almonds with citrus is not a new one. They go together so well and, in this cake, neither outdoes the other. The cake is also not too sweet, which is a nice change from all the Christmas candy and treats we’ve been having around here lately.
So, what do you think? Isn’t it time for some cake?
Orange Almond Tea Cake with Orange Glaze
makes one 9-10 inch tube cake to serve 8-12
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (5 ounces) almond paste
2 teaspoons orange zest from 1 medium orange
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 cup (4 ounces) milk at room temperature
1 cup (3 ounces) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
to make cake:
Preheat oven to 350 or 325 if you are using a dark pan like mine. Using a baking spray with flour included spray a 9-10 inch bundt type pan with at least an 10 cup capacity. Set aside until the batter is ready.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt together.
In the bowl of a food processor, process the sugar and almond paste together until the almond paste is all broken up and the mixture has the appearance of fluffy sand. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a mixer. Add to the bowl the grated zest and the butter. Beat on medium speed until thoroughly mixed and fluffy.
With the mixer running on low, add the eggs, one at a time, waiting to add the next one until the previous one has been incorporated. You may need to scrape down the bowl a few times to get a uniform mixture.
Beginning and ending with the flour, alternate adding the flour and milk to the batter, mixing well and scraping if necessary between each addition. Before scraping the batter into the pan, give the batter a last mixing with a spatula by hand in order to make sure that all bits of the batter are incorporated.
Scrape the batter into the pan and make it level with a spatula. Bake for about 55 minutes or until the cake is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan and a tester comes out clean. Put the pan on a rack to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the glaze.
For the glaze:
Mix all glaze ingredients in a bowl with a whisk until evenly combined.
After ten minutes, turn the cake out onto a rack. Place a sheet of foil or wax paper under the rack to catch drips. Using a pastry brush, brush the glaze all over the cake. Let cool completely on the rack.