The days fly by. You couldn't ask for a more perfect New York fall. I watch the sun set at work most days, we have a panoramic view of the city from our office. It reminds me every day how beautiful life is, and if I had one desire, it would be the ability to slow it all down. It comes with the territory I suppose, time moves too fast in moments of content, and it trudges along slowly in moments you'd rather skip right through.
The markets have been bursting with apples, pears, and grapes lately. Picturesque fall. Last weekend, at every stall that carried them, there were huge swarms of honey bees all over the gorgeous and fragrant cartons of concord grapes. They were so damn happy. And for every bee present there was a person squealing about them, either in excitement or fear. It was truly a sight to behold. I decided to take another route from the bees, purchasing what may have been a few too many bartlett pears to make pear cake. It was a tasty decision.
It was probably close to ten pounds actually. I wasn't sure if all of them would go to use, but between this pear cake and some spiced pear bread, they're almost all gone. Apples and pumpkins always seem to get the attention this time of year, and while I will probably post recipes with both of those guys in the future, today we're focusing on the often overlooked pear.
I paired the pears (see what I did there??) with a simple sour cream cake, drizzled with some always delicious salted caramel sauce. The fruit comes through with subtlety, but its fresh flavor and texture balances the sweetness of the rest of the cake really well. Hope you enjoy!
Cake base adapted from Food & Wine
Serves 8 to 10 with plenty of salted caramel leftover.
For the cake:
1 & 1/2 cups (188 grams) all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (120 grams) sour cream
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup (133 grams) granulated sugar
8 tbsp (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 small or 2 large bartlett pears
For the salted caramel:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp water
3/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp flaky sea salt such as Maldon
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl, whisk to combine. Place sour cream, heavy cream, and vanilla in another medium bowl, stir until smooth. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl and beating for another 30 seconds after each addition. Add dry ingredients to the stand mixer and blend on low for another minute, then add wet ingredients and blend until just combined.
Transfer batter to the cake pan and spread it out in one even layer. Peel and split pears in half. Remove the cores with a spoon or paring knife. Thinly slice each half and spread over the top of the batter. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes until cake is golden and pears are cooked through.
While cake is baking make the salted caramel. Place sugar and water in a medium to large saucepan. Melt sugar over medium high heat, swirling the pan if needed so it melts evenly. Do not stir or whisk the sugar (it will crystalize when agitated). When the sugar has melted and starts boiling, keep a watchful eye on its color. Once it turns a nice golden amber, immediately turn off heat and add cream. The mixture will immediately bubble, once the bubbling has mostly subsided, whisk the cream and sugar together to form a smooth caramel. Add butter, salt, and whisk again to combine. Set the salted caramel aside until the cake finishes baking.
When the cake is done, remove from oven and let cool for at least 20 minutes before unmolding. Serve warm or at room temperature with a healthy drizzle of salted caramel on each slice.