Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pear Cake with Pine Nuts

Here's a perfect fall cake - any variety of pear will work, so use your favorite (bonus points if you've gone to the fruit orchard to pick it yourself). The pine nuts give a nicely different, savory element to the topping. Toast them ahead of time in a small skillet over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, being sure to shake or stir in the pan frequently to prevent burning.

  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup vegan sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup vegan sour cream
  • 1/4 cup plain non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Ener-G egg
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups thinly sliced and peeled pear
1. Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Combine the flour in a bowl with the sugar and salt.  Cut the butter into small pieces, and cut into the flour mixture with a pastry blender - the mixture should look like coarse meal.

2. Transfer 1/3 cup of this flour mixture to a small bowl, and stir in the pine nuts and cinnamon; set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the remaining flour mixture, the sour cream, milk, lemon rind, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and Ener-G egg.  Beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended.

4. Pour the batter into a 9-inch round cake pan coated with cooking spray.  Arrange the pear slices over the batter - any pattern will do, but I find concentric circles to be the prettiest.

5. Sprinkle with the pine nut mixture, then bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes - a wooden pick inserted in the center should come out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Nutrition Info:
8 servings (1 wedge), Calories 252

Tasting Notes:
The slight graininess of the pears and the toasted pine nuts are an elegant and delightful combination. There was also a surprisingly nice burst of fresh lemon to each bite, from the rind. The cake is a perfect texture, with just the right touch of sweetness to the sugar topping, making this one a keeper. I also appreciated the ease with which it came together, since the flour mixture is used both in the batter and the topping. The perfect kind of cake to serve with coffee or brunch.


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