Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Parties: Pear Ginger Cake

We are having our holiday party at work tomorrow and everyone was supposed to bring some side dishes or desserts.  Potluck style, while they furnished the main course.

So I decided to do some baking and make a dessert to take.

This Pear Cake is just perfect to share.  It makes a large one layer cake that I cooked in my cast iron skillet.  Yes, in my cast iron skillet.  A 10" skillet.

This couldn't be easier.  First you saute chopped pears in the skillet with lots of butter and brown sugar until they are caramelized.  The butter helps with greasing the skillet so that the pears don't stick when baked.  You wouldn't want that!  Trust me, I was holding my breath on mine, but it came out perfect.

Next you just pour the cake batter over the fruit that is spread all over the bottom and bake.  It's that simple. Plus I'll let you in on a secret.  You can either make the cake batter using the recipe below, can make a simple quick bread, or even a pound cake and use that.  I've made this before with that uhhhem...boxed pound cake mix (oops!) and some apples and it turned out fabulous.  In this version I took the recipe below and added some candied ginger to the mix.  Ginger and pears are excellent together. 

Trust me when I say this is as easy as cake!  You make it all in a skillet and it will feed a crowd.  Great for taking to holiday parties, potlucks, or serving your family at a holiday dinner.  It's good anytime.


Pear Ginger Cake

Sauteed Pears:
2 cups of pears peeled and chopped (about 3 pears)
2 Tbs. (1/4 stick) unsalted butter 
2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar 
Juice of 1/2 lemon   
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon  

Vanilla Cake:
1 1/4 cups flour  
1/2 tsp baking powder  
1/4 tsp baking soda  
1/4 tsp salt  
1 egg  
1 cup granulated sugar  
1/2 cup canola oil  
1 tsp. vanilla extract  
1/2 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large 10" cast iron skillet, add butter and melt over medium heat.  Add pears, brown sugar, lemon and cinnamon to the skillet.  Cook, stirring constantly 3-5 minutes or until pears are softened.  Remove from heat and set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the egg and granulated sugar until fluffy and lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, slowly add the oil and vanilla and beat until blended. Beat in the sour cream just until no white streaks remain, then beat in the flour mixture until incorporated. Carefully pour the batter over the fruit in the skillet, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula.
Bake at 350 for 30 min in a 10 inch cast iron skillet.  Allow to cool in skillet for 10-15 min.  Run a knife along the edges of the skillet.  Invert onto a platter.  

Variation:  Fold in 1/3 c of finely chopped candied ginger in the batter.

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