Ah, pears... It is safe to say most (or all) fruits and vegetables are best when they are fresh, picked-ripe, local and organic... All that jazz. But there are some pieces of produce where anything but the former leaves you feeling like you might as well be eating cardboard. The texture, aroma, and juicyness of a pear is so very characteristic of the fruit and certainly unlike anything else. Oranges have grapefruits, apples have... other apples? Anyway, this recipe is from the fall, when I found my self with a fair portion of pears from the CSA. Not enough to eat all at once, so I had to find another vessel for them... I tried a pear crumble (meh, yet the recipe will probably show up here in the future) and this simple pear cake. It stole the show. The sugar and butter (substitute) candied the cake, leaving it crisp and carmelized... I amalgamted several recipes, all non-vegan, and made this cake... more than once. I imagine you could substitute apples, plums, or peaches, but the earthy texture of the cooked pears infusing the cake was pretty divine...
So onto the recipe...
Old Fashioned Pear Cake
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup canola oil
All-purpose flour for dusting
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup sugar
1 medium banana, well mashed or pureed*
1 egg replacer (I used Bob's red mill)
4 bosc pears, firm but ripe (any pear works. I had boscs)
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Spray a 9-inch round springform pan with oil (or brush it your self), and dust the pan with a thin, even layer of flour, tapping out the excess. Set aside.
Whisk together the whole-wheat pastry flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the fats and the sugar on high speed until pale, light, and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg replacer and banana. Beat again until well combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients just until combined.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and neatly arrange the pear quarters on top, skin side up. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the top is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing it from the pan.
*I often do this with the egg replacer in my blender