pear and ginger cake

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Pear and Ginger Cake

From the book Bake! by
Serves 16
Yield 1 Bundt cake

Introduction

Use firm-ripe Bartlett pears for this cake. When you press the blossom end of the pear with your thumb, it should yield to gentle pressure. Softer pears will immediately turn to a watery purée if you try to grate them. This cake, and the apple variation that follow it, utilize the grated fruit as a means of retaining moisture in the baked cake. While each contributes a dimension of flavor to the cake, it’s one that successfully blends with the seasonings to create a moist, harmonious finished product. Neither is anything like biting into a ripe pear or apple.

Ingredients

~ Butter, fine dry breadcrumbs, and vegetable cooking spray for coating the pan (see Note)
3 cups all-purpose flour (spoon into a dry-measure cup and level off)
cups sugar
tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
cups vegetable oil (see Note)
cup finely minced crystallized ginger
4 cups peeled and chopped or grated Bartlett pears, about 2 pounds or 4 medium pears (see Note)
~ Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Steps

  1. Butter a 10-inch (16-cup) tube or Bundt pan. Coat it with the breadcrumbs, then spray it with vegetable cooking spray.
  2. Set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and spices, and whisk well to combine.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the vanilla. Whisk in the oil, followed by the crystallized ginger.
  5. Use a large rubber spatula to stir in all the grated pears, followed by the dry ingredients, a third at a time.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake the cake until it is well risen and firm and the point of a paring knife inserted halfway between the side of the pan and the central tube emerges clean, about 65 to 75 minutes.
  7. Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert it onto a rack to cool completely.
  8. Cut into slices to serve, with the sweetened whipped cream if you like.

Notes

Store the cake under a cake dome or covered with plastic wrap at room temperature. Double-wrap the cake and freeze it for longer storage. Defrost and bring to room temperature before serving.

You may replace half of the vegetable oil with melted butter.

Variation: Apple Spice Cake. Replace the pears with peeled and grated Granny Smith apples. Omit the ground ginger and crystallized ginger and fold in 1 cup each of coarsely chopped walnut or pecan pieces and dark or golden raisins after the last of the dry ingredients.

Culinate editor’s notes: If you don’t have fine dry breadcrumbs on hand, you can simply butter the pan and dust it with flour. If you need to grind your own breadcrumbs, do so in a food processor, then use the processor to grate the peeled, cored, and sliced pears.

This content is from the book Bake! by Nick Malgieri.

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1. by Lesley Lush on Oct 14, 2010 at 5:36 AM PDT

I am curious about using baking soda as I do not see any acid ingredients. Or am I just missing something?

2. by Caroline Cummins on Oct 14, 2010 at 11:09 AM PDT

Lesley —

As Giovanna Zivny and Kelly Stewart have noted in their Culinate baking articles, baking soda does indeed need an acid to react with in order to make baked goods rise.

Common acids in baked goods include buttermilk, yogurt, honey, chocolate and natural cocoa powder, molasses and brown sugar, vinegar, and fruit juices, especially citrus juices. In this case, the liquid of all those grated pears melting in the oven should do the acidic trick.

3. by lena on Nov 22, 2011 at 3:15 PM PST

Malgieri recommends using either a 10” tube pan or a 10” bundt pan. There seems to be a contradiction here, as the tube pan of 10” in diameter can hold 16 cups of batter, whereas a 10” bundt pan is design to hold only 12 cups. I made the apple-raisin variation of this recipe, and the 16-cup baking pan seems the right equipment to use.

4. by Lesley Lush on Nov 23, 2011 at 3:40 PM PST

@ Caroline
First, thank you for your prompt reply and sorry to be so ling in asking my next question, but, doesn’t 1 1/2 tsp of baking soda seem like a lot? Isn’t it usually 1/4 tsp per cup of flour with a little extra in the presence of very acidic ingredients?

5. by Caroline Cummins on Nov 30, 2011 at 12:29 PM PST

Lesley -- My guess is that the cake, which is quite dense with pears, needs the extra baking soda to get it to rise fully.

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