I don’t know how many of you are familiar with purchasing cases of fruit. If you haven’t done it before, here’s how it goes, generally:
- You buy a case of apricots/peaches/pears because it’s a great deal and you are excited to have lots of beautiful fruit to play with.
- You wait and wait and wait for it to ripen so you can make your jam/cobbler/pie or process it for canning/freezing.
- The fruit doesn’t ripen until the day you have a huge project at work/guest in town/doctor’s appointment, and then it is ready all at once right now now now.
- You stay up past your bedtime to deal with it, give some to the neighbors and shed a tear or two over soft/moldy spots that force you to add more cut-out pieces to the compost than you want to…
So, you may ask, why buy cases of fruit, smart lady? The answer is simple– rule #1 wins every time. I forget the hassle and focus on the fragrant bounty I scored at the farmers’ market or fruit stand. I marvel at the wonder of 20 lbs. of a locally-grown heirloom variety of peaches too soft to sell commercially but juicy and flavorful beyond belief. I get greedy thinking of all the possible flavor combinations for jam and how many bags I could have in my freezer for winter baking. I am a bulk-fruit sucker, and proud of it!
My most-recent case buy was of Bartlett pears– $15 for almost 30 lbs! Even my husband got excited for that purchase. Pears can be a tricky fruit to work with because you really want them to be under-ripe when you buy them and it can be tough to gauge how long it will be until they’re ready. The rules above most certainly applied to this case of pears– they went from hard and green to tender and golden yellow almost overnight. I was lucky that they ripened on a Friday and I had the weekend to work with them, but 30 lbs. is a LOT of pears. I started a big batch of my beloved caramelized pear butter going in the slow cooker and made some Pear-Vanilla Jam from Food in Jars. My husband ate three a day for three or four days straight and took several to his boss, and I ate my share, too, though not as many. Despite our best efforts, I found myself on Sunday afternoon with about a dozen left– not enough for another batch of jam or chutney, too many to eat plain. So, I made this cake, and then I made another one a few hours later for the freezer. Pears gone, husband happy, I win.
I almost hesitate to call this a cake; in my book it has more of a quick bread consistency. I found the recipe on a blog called The Sweets Life, and Natalie baked hers in a bundt pan, as I did. But… I think in the future it will move to loaf pans, possibly even muffin tins? I love this recipe because it uses so much fruit, includes wheat flour (which gives it a perfect texture and a slightly nutty flavor) and is relatively low-fat and low-sugar compared to other cakes and quick breads. It tastes so good! I am going to take the basic framework of this cake and try other fruits and spices in combination and would love to hear if you make a variation. The recipe below is my take on Natalie’s recipe, with just a few changes made. Enjoy!
Spiced Pear Cake (adapted from The Sweets Life)
- 4 c. cored and chopped Bartlett pears
- 1 c. sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 c. canola or grapeseed oil
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
Toss the chopped pears with the sugar in a large bowl; allow to sit at room temperature for an hour.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 10 c. bundt pan and set aside.
Whisk the eggs to break the yolks and add to the pear mixture with canola oil and vanilla. Sift together the flours, baking soda, salt and spices and add to the wet ingredients, stirring gently just until combined. Pour the batter carefully into your prepared pan and bake for 45-55 mins., until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool for 15 mins. and then turn the cake out onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.