Fresh food is definitely the best; there’s no question about that. But sometimes I do find myself struggling with ideas of what to do with certain fruits and veggies. Yes, many can be eaten raw, and that’s actually pretty fabulous for you, but in the case of the fresh pears that grow around here, they’re usually too hard to be simply picked and eaten, though our kids have definitely tried this technique on multiple occasions. They do eventually soften up, but for the most part, folks around here “put up” or preserve this specific type of pear. For cooking and baking, these crisp and firm pears really can’t be beat.
Our normal supply of pears comes from an old tree at my husband’s grandmother’s home just outside of town. The tree is usually so weighed down with pears that the branches break under the weight, so two years ago the tree received a serious pruning, and we weren’t able to get any pears this past year. But hopes are high that this year the pears will return!
Since I don’t have a lot of free time to put up pears (and since the last time I did it we had canned pears for two years…) I like to use these babies in homemade pear cake. This sweet and cinnamon-spiced cake has the slight crust of a pound cake, but chunks of moist and delicious pear to balance it out. My mom has been making this cake for as long as I can remember, and though she’s an excellent cook, she’ll tell you baking is not her gift. Despite her baking humility, my mom’s pear cake (and coconut cake) are always a fan-favorite at her house, and now the pear cake tradition has passed on to our house as well.
Over the last few years, I’ve been making some changes to the original recipe to create a “healthier” version, including using whole wheat pastry flour and substituting some of the oil for applesauce. The substitutions have been a success, and the result is a delicious cake that I totally let my kids eat for breakfast the next day, because let’s not get started on the amount of sugar in most processed breakfast foods. I digress. So here’s the low down on how to make this super simple cake.
- Dice pears, you can even have smaller helpers do this with a kid’s knife.
- Place pears in bowl with sugar and let sit for at least an hour. This will cause the pears to create their own “juice.”
- While pears are juicing, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and spices and whisk to combine. Then add eggs, oil, and applesauce to pears and combine with the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.
- Pour into a bundt pan and bake at 325 for an hour and 10 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan to finish cooling.
This cake is delicious served slightly warm, and while you can serve it with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, it really needs no extras. It’s a simple and delicious cake that isn’t loaded with junk, so just tell yourself you’re eating health food and enjoy every bite.