A Seasonal, Southern Red Bartlett Pear-Almond Cake (with Grits & Molasses)

Red Bartlett Pears

Three beautifully deep red Bartlett Pears, a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour & a box of yellow grits, a bit of raw sugar & Muddy Pond sorghum molasses collided in my kitchen this afternoon. They did not start out intending to meet. They were all minding their own business sitting quietly on their shelves. It was really all the pears fault. They entered, sitting boldly on the counter, which is where I found them.  Perfectly ripe today, tomorrow they would not be so. The skins, soft and edible, melding with the flesh as I bit into one. They begged to become a cake, nothing fancy, just a simple rustic cake. I agreed.

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“A Seasonal Southern Red Bartlett Pear Almond Cake”

Here is what I used:

3 Red Bartlett pears, 1 cup raw sugar, 1 1/2 sticks softened butter, 2 TBSP sorghum molasses, 3 eggs, 2 tsp bourbon vanilla extract, 1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal Flour, 1/2 cup yellow corn grits, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, homemade “Very Vanilla Bean Sugar” (or store-bought vanilla sugar)  & Powdered Sugar to garnish

Very Vanilla Bean Sugar

Here is how you make it:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan.

2. Mix together the almond meal, grits, baking soda & salt. Set aside.

almond meal flour, grits, baking soda & salt

3. Cream sugar, butter & molasses together until fluffy. Beat in vanilla & eggs.  Turn mixer to low and add dry ingredients, mixing  just until well blended.

cake batter

4. Scrape batter into the prepared springform pan smoothing the top.

Almond cake batter

5. Cut pears in half & remove cores from each. Cut each half into quarters. Place half of the pear quarters in a circle over the top of the cake batter.  Bake cake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and quickly add another layer of the pears on top of the partially baked cake. Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes or so. Remove cake from oven and while still hot sprinkle generously with “Very Vanilla Bean Sugar”. Sugar crystals will melt on top of the hot cake.

Pear Almond Cake

Pear Almond CakeA dense, very moist cake with lots of texture and flavor, almost like pear pudding in the middle. To gussy it up serve with a light dusting of powdered sugar.

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clean your plate please

“A Late August Four-Letter “F” Word To Savor!”

My favorite four letter “f” word in late August is “Figs”. Finally we have some figs to play with. I have been watching the trees in the neighborhood, snooping around the farmer’s markets, just waiting, thinking on simple recipes using tree ripened figs.

“Brown Turkey Figs”

Sitting with a group of food friends the other day we started talking about foods we really were not aware of when we were younger, foods that we now know and love. For most of us Southerners it seems fresh figs just didn’t make it onto our radars until adulthood. I am not sure why. Fig trees thrive around here so it seems that figs would have been a summer staple just like peaches & late summer pears. I think I will do a bit of research to figure out why I never ate fresh figs as a child. As an adult I relish the arrival of this little, lush four-letter word.

“Fresh Figs-Pine Nuts Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake” 

 The corn meal gives it a bit of a crunch as do the pine nuts. The caramelized fig topping drizzled with maple syrup is luscious.

Ingredients: 5 to 6 fresh figs, 2 to 3 cups self-rising white or yellow cornmeal (I used gluten-free); 1 tsp ground cardamom; 1 stick good butter (Kerry gold of course!); 1 cup brown sugar; (divided into two 1/2 cups; 1/4 cups toasted pine nuts; 2 eggs; milk; real maple syrup

Directions:  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a cast iron skillet, preferably, over medium high heat. Add in 1/2 cup brown sugar stirring until melted.

2. Wash & dry figs. Cut each one in half lengthwise. Place cut-side down in skillet in a circular pattern. Sprinkle toasted pine nuts over figs. Turn heat to low allowing the figs to caramelize somewhat for about 5-8 minutes.

3. Meanwhile in a mixing bowl whisk together the dry ingredients..cornmeal, second 1/2 cup brown sugar & cardamom. Add eggs & enough milk to make a batter.

                                                                   

4. Pour/scrape batter into the hot skillet with the figs on top of the stove. Transfer skillet to the pre-heated oven. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until cake is golden brown and set in the middle. Remove skillet from oven and let rest for about 5 minutes.

5. Place a plate over the top of the skillet and “flip” plate & skillet upside-down. Scrape any caramel left in the pan over the top of the cake. While cake is still hot drizzle generously with real maple syrup. Cool cake for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Serve slices with additional maple syrup on side if desired.


Bonus Recipe: “Figgy Pancakes”

Ingredients: Same as for the cake recipe with a few extra figs quartered.

It was morning when I was baking the cake and had a bit of batter left over after filling the skillet. While the cake was baking I whipped up some pancakes for breakfast!

Directions: 1. Heat some butter in a small non-stick pan or griddle over high heat. Add a few quartered figs.

2. Pour in batter. When batter is set on bottom and bubbly on top flip pancake and  finish cooking til golden brown.

        

3. Serve immediately with real maple syrup. This was one good pancake recipe!

EXTRA, EXTRA BONUS RECIPE…SEE BELOW…THE EASIEST MOST DELICIOUS WAY TO EAT FRESH FIGS…….DON’T MISS THIS ONE!

“Sea Salt & Raw Sugar Dipped Figs”

Take some wonderful fresh figs. Cut them into quarters. Sprinkle some great sea salt & raw sugar on a saucer. Dip cut edges of figs in salt-sugar mixture and eat.

A sublime treat.

Doesn’t the word “fig” conjure up an image of Adam romping around in the Garden of Eden wearing a fig leaf?

I wondered what figs would be like after they were frozen?

 FYI. Mushy, but aren’t they pretty frozen?

Some “f” word music I like. A little bit different, fun and peppy to help you get figgy.

Album, “The Figs”,  The Figs, 2007 Valcour Records

Album, “What Keeps Me Up At Night”, The Figs 2008

Songs, “Jumbo” & “The Long Goodbye”, Marseille Figs, 2009 Figs of London

Eat good stuff.