Small amount of vegetable shortening and flour for preparing pan
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2½ pounds (about 5) ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1½ inch pieces
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter
1¾ cups firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
¼ cup honey
4 large eggs
½ cup milk (preferably whole milk)
Lemon Cream Cheese Icing:
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 to 3 tablespoons milk, plus more if needed
Tip: Use a citrus juicer for freshly squeezed juice. Use standard measuring cups and spoons or scales for accurate measuring.
- In a medium heavy-bottomed pan, spread the granulated sugar in an even layer. Cook over medium-high heat, without stirring, until the sugar around the edge of the pan melts and begins to turn golden, 5 to 8 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, slowly stir until all the sugar has melted and the mixture is caramelized, turning translucent and golden.
- Add the pear chunks to the caramel, and stir to coat. Don’t worry if the caramel turns hard when the pears are added; as the pears cook the caramel will melt. Cook the pears, covered, over medium-low heat until the pears are very soft, 6 to 8 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally. Using a potato masher or fork, mash the pears until they are broken down but still slightly chunky. Continue cooking, uncovered, another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. You should have about 3 cups of pear sauce.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare one 9 inch Bundt pan; lightly grease the pan with shortening and dust with flour.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and nutmeg; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar, and honey until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color.
With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 8 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture has a fluffy texture. While adding the sugar, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
Drizzle in the honey, continuing to beat another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed.
Tip: For each egg, crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to thoroughly break up the egg before adding to the creamed mixture. Start with the mixer on low speed so the liquid from the egg doesn’t splatter, once the egg is partially mixed increase the speed to medium. Each egg should be fully incorporated into the mixture before adding the next egg, taking about one minute to blend in each egg.
- With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the milk, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and milk, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended.
- Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold 3 cups of the pear sauce into the batter.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon. Bake 55 to 65 minutes or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pan on a wire cooling rack to cool for 15 minutes then remove cake from the pan and place the cake on the wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
Lemon Cream Cheese Icing:
- In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons milk; beat together until mixture is smooth. Add additional milk if necessary to make a soft consistency. The icing should be thicker than a glaze but thin enough that it will run down over the sides of the cake. Add additional powdered sugar if too thin or a little more milk if it seems too thick.
- Drizzle the icing over the cake, allowing the icing to drip down the sides.
- Cover cake loosely and refrigerate until ready to serve. Refrigerate Leftovers.
Tip: Serve cake using a pretty cake plate and cake server for a delightful presentation.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Adapted From: Stewart, Martha, Baking Handbook, Clarkson Potter, New York, 2005