The past several years in a row, Matt and I have done the apple picking thing. We’ve driven upstate, admired the changing leaves on our peaceful drive, then stopped for lunch in the area of the orchard. Then we’d descend on the orchard and fill up two giant bags with apples, various different kinds (Fuji, honeycrisp, gala…). And then, we would get home and of course make the inevitable discovery that we’d picked too many apples. Adding insult to injury is the fact that neither of us like applesauce.
This year, we decided to skip this venture. Something in me just wasn’t up for it this year; maybe it’s a sign we need to find a new orchard – the one we’ve visited has a cover band playing every year, and it’s the only time I’ve ever heard a Maroon 5 song in the same set as “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” And then there’s the whole apple cider doughnut situation-thing.
And of course, it’s entirely possible that my readers may remember the plethora abundance of apple recipes I posted with my stash last year, and were perhaps hoping there would not be a repeat. There won’t. Throughout this whole apple explosion of the last two years, I realized I’ve neglected the lovely pear, apple’s oft-forgotten cousin, and thought I’d take a small step to remedy that. With cake. Because, what else? I mean, really. I do feel I should offer a small and sheepish apology for how many bowls you’ll use to make this cake, but I promise you, it’s well worth it. So moist and delicious. Enjoy!
Source: adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi
2 large Bosc or Anjou pears, peeled, cored and chopped
5 tbs toasted walnuts, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbs Amaretto liqueur
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp kosher salt
6 ½ tsp slivered almonds
3 large eggs
¾ cup sunflower or canola oil
1 cup plus 2 ½ tbs granulated sugar
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tbs Amaretto liqueur
Preheat your oven to 325 F. Grease a standard loaf pan. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the pears, walnuts, lemon zest, and Amaretto. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Add the almonds to a mini food processor and pulse until finely ground; but be careful not to turn it into almond butter. Add the ground almonds to the flour mixture and whisk to combine.
Separate 2 of the eggs, reserving the whites in one bowl and transferring the yolks to another small to medium bowl. Add the third whole egg to the yolks and whisk to combine.
In yet another bowl, briskly whisk together the oil and sugar, then whisk in the egg yolk mixture. Make a well in the flour mixture and add the oil and sugar mixture. Whisk to combine, then gently fold in the pear mixture.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then gently fold them into the cake batter. It’s okay if a few white streaks remain, you want to avoid overmixing as that will make the cake dry.
Pour the cake batter into your prepared pan. Bake 45-60 minutes, until a cake tester or skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool, then remove the cake from the pan.
Now make the glaze. Simply add the confectioners’ sugar and Amaretto to a bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour the glaze liberally over the cake. Slice and serve.