It happened again: lots of living and not much blogging. This summer has been adventurous and at times, delicious. I am grateful for the milestones we celebrated and the simple moments we savored. When I look at these photos I remember unexpected treats from this past season; wishing all of you those reminders of the good times. I sense a reflective autumn coming on.
I get giddy when people think of me when they discover a new recipe, so you can imagine my delight when my friend Jillian wrote to me about her experience in the kitchen making October Apple Cake. We agreed that the possibilities for variations on this recipe were ripe, and this is how the November Golden Pear Cake came to be.
I changed up the modest ingredient list to make my own perfectly sweet & gluten free autumnal cake with pears, substituting oat flour with rice flour and swapping out the chocolate chunks with cubes of buttery caramel. Can I describe a dessert cake as both delicate and hearty? I hope so, because this recipe seems to fit those descriptions, and when sliced in wedges, it radiates like the golden November sunshine.
Enjoy, serve, or gift the November Golden Pear Cake at any time of day. It’s amiable to eat with a fork and cup of tea at the breakfast table, as a handheld treat on a fall forest potluck picnic, or as appetizer pick-ed mini bites preceding a festive night’s cheese course. Happy Novembering.
1 cup rice flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
3 pears (I used D’Anjou)
optional: 1/2 cup caramel bits or 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks
1. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Grease a pan with olive oil and dust with flour, set aside (I also lined the bottom with a circle of parchment paper).
2. In a small bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs for 10 minutes.
4. Peel the pears and chop them into chunks. Chop up caramel or chocolate into chunks.
5. Add the brown sugar and olive oil to the fluffy, fluffy eggs and continue to whip for another minute. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until combined.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then nestle the pear and caramel chunks until they are nice and snug in the batter.
7. Bake for about an hour, then if you can stand the wait, let it cool. Turn out the cake onto a plate and serve hot with drizzled caramel and sprinkled with sea salt, or cold with freshly whipped vanilla cream on top.
I went to a sweet and rambunctious birthday celebration for my nephew this week. We had fun doing science experiments (elephant toothpaste, lava in a cup, homemade bouncy balls) and playing games (basketball, tag, water balloon pinata) with his old kindergarten classmates. Don’t you love the cake? My sister made a fudgy football field with icing turf; we almost forgot what green grass looks like during this drought! I think the birthday boy felt the love as he passed out pieces of the field to his friends in his newly stained birthday/gameday knees.
This past weekend I clicked my heels together three times and found myself in Kansas watching my youngest cousin graduate from high school. I was reflective (and a little teary) as I sat through the graduation ceremony and recalled a Judith Thurman quote that I had taped up in my freshman dorm room that read, “Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never been to, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground.”
Happy Graduation, Ray (Master’s), Becca (Bachelor’s), Julie (High School): you each inspire me in different ways. Keep dreaming while at home and away! Love, Your Big Cousin. More graduation love to Emily and Stephanie, two dear friends that always give me a sense of home, wherever we are in the world.
My sister helped out with the sweet treats for a friend’s “sunshine and giggles” 1st birthday party. When she was telling me about all of their fun ideas, I said, what about using golden Oreos in the cupcakes (like the ones you made last summer)? She did just that, using a french vanilla cake mix and the marshmallow fluff frosting recipe. So sunny and bright, just like this little girl’s smile: Happy Birthday, Lily!
With nostalgia for my Great Aunt Catherine (she loved the cherry blossoms), I made cupcakes. Of course, you could make these cupcakes from scratch, but in true Aunt Catherine form, I used box mixes! I have great memories of stopping at hot dog carts for a coke and a dog during my last trip with her to New York City. She was always on the move and liked to eat Chinese take-out while reading the paper.
White Cake Mix: substitute Coca-Cola for water, add 5 T Cherry JELL-O powder, follow box instructions.
Frosting: Cockylit is my go-to for Meringue, and I added about 2 t Cherry JELL-O Powder to her instructions.
Together: Cherry Vanilla Coke in a cake with a big dollop of pink sugary protein on top!
Upon closer inspection of the baked goods I brought back to my hotel room, I realized they were appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day. Cupcakes: Dreamsicle | Pistachio. Whoopie Pies: Choco-Mint Chip | Bananas Foster. All from Flying Monkey. Wishing you the luck of the Irish and a reason to shout, “whoopie!”
Last weekend while poking around antique stores and hardware stores in Noblesville, I spied Teaberry gum. I bought a pack (along with an Esquire cookbook from the fifties), and chewing it took me back in time. Every now and then when we were little, my mom would have a five-pack of Teaberry or Beeman’s gum in her purse that she would split with me and my sister.
Maybe it is the rosy color of the gum, but I have to remind myself that teaberry is actually wintergreen and not a fruit. These teacakes were inspired by that unassuming Teaberry flavor. I baked an old-fashioned white cake, cut out cylinders, sliced those in half, filled the middles with raspberry and coated them in wintergreen infused white chocolate. It may be a bit much for some, but they were cute lil’ cakes that would be nice at the end of a meal with an Americano or in the late afternoon with hot black tea.
P.S. Thanks to all who voted for my treat in the “So You Wanna Be a CakeSpy” contest. The results are in, and I don’t get to be a CakeSpy this time. It was sure fun being included in the list of finalists!
Sweet and nutty, YES. I must have copied this recipe out of an old church potluck cookbook, because I cannot find the source, and my penmanship is dated. I can’t be the only one with personal font phases. In any case, the PayDay bar seems to be the beginning in the progression of “energy” candy bars (followed by Baby Ruth, then maybe Snickers?). But it’s definitely dessert, and this bar recipe is all kinds of sweet, salty and easy.
Mix 1 box yellow cake mix, 1/3 c softened butter, 1 egg.
Press into an ungreased 9×13 pan.
Bake @ 350-degrees for about 12 minutes.
Toss 3 c mini mallows over the top and return to oven for 2 minutes.
Heat on low stovetop 2/3 c light corn syrup, 1/4 c butter, 2 c peanut butter chips till melty.
Mix in 2 c salted peanuts & 2 c Rice Krispies.
Spread over cake & mallow layers.
Cool & cut into squares.
Just a few of my favorite things! I met up with my old college roommates and summer camp counselor friends in Grand Rapids Friday. It was the last weekend of ArtPrize 2011 filled with treats visually & gastronomically in good company. These desserts are from San Chez in downtown Grand Rapids, including Empanada de Chocolate (chocolate fudge filled pastry, dolce de leche ice cream, brandy caramel, raspberry sauce), Pastel de Queso de Cabra (vanilla goat cheese cheesecake with shortbread crust, lemon curd, blackberry caviar & pecan tuile), and Tarta de Chocolate al Whisky (whisky soaked cake, caramel pecan ice cream, brownie & white chocolate mousse), respectively. The dishroom didn’t have much work to do once we were finished.