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Friday, November 22, 2013

Dutch Oven Pear Cake

I'm back in the desert, back at my the office, and my hunnie and I are falling back into our normal routine.  It feels great to come home after a long days work and cook a nice, mostly Paleo dinner.  It feels even better to have spare time on the weekends again to just catch up and enjoy the company of my hunnie and our two silly, smiley dogs.  Last weekend, I dragged my hunnie to Market on the Move and the local grocery store to stock up the kitchen with fresh veggies and fruit galore.  (I'll admit we also stocked up the liquor cabinet, but hey, that's just us getting ready for the holidays!)  We came home with, among other things, a big basket of pears, which I proceeded to drop on the tile in our kitchen only two days later.  This in turn left us with a kitchen full of fresh veggies, fruit, and bruised pears!  I instantly went into Betty Crocker-mode, and starting skimming through my cookbooks and favorite food blogs to try and figure out what to do with all those bruised pears.  While I could have done Pear Sauce (Applesauce w/ pears) or a Pear Cobbler, I wanted to really challenge myself to get creative, and make something potentially serve-able for the pre-Thanksgiving dinner me and my hunnie are hosting this weekend.  I decided to take an Apple Cider Cake recipe I found, and alter it a bit for the pears.  Did I mention that I don't own a cake pan?  So...I altered the recipe even more by baking the cake in my dutch oven.  While I'm not much for taking risks, boy do I love accomplishing unfathomable feats in the kitchen! 

While this cake is made with wheat flour, the pear puree keeps it moist and light.  This Dutch Oven Pear Cake was great, not only because it was rustic, sweet, and seasonal, but also because it made me feel like the REAL Betty, aceing a new recipe in the kitchen, impressing the friends with a beautiful cake, and winning a kiss from a very impressed hunnie.

Dutch Oven Pear Cake
for the Pears...
4-5 bruised (or perfect) Bartlett Pears, sliced (seeds and stems removed)
1 cup Apple Cider
1/4 cup honey
for the Cake...
1 1/2 cups wheat flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground clove  
7 tablespoons butter + more for greasing the pan
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs

Set oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Use butter to grease the sides and bottom of the dutch oven (or cake pan).  In a metal pot (no cast iron), bring cider and honey to a simmer.  Add sliced pears and let simmer for 3-4 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.  Once pears are cool, scoop out about 8-10 pear slices, and using a fork or potato masher, mash the fruit until it is half chunky/half pureed (think chunky applesauce). 

In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and clove.  In another bowl, cream the softened butter and brown sugar.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.  Then add the chunky pear puree, and mix thoroughly.  Add 1 cup of dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir.  Repeat until all dry ingredients are combined with wet ingredients.  Mixture should be somewhat thick (similar to a quick bread).

Scoop mixture into the center of the dutch oven and use the spoon to spread the batter evenly.  Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the remaining sliced pears, one at a time and distribute over the top of the cake in any pattern you wish.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick pushed in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Let cake cool before removing from dutch oven.

*It's likely you will have cider left in the pan after using all the pears in the cake.  You can certainly enjoy it as is, or do like we did and warm it up to make an Apple Hot Toddy.

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