I have nothing against fruit-based desserts, as a general concept. But sometimes I just want fruit to be fruit and dessert to be dessert. For example, I’ve always been confused by the notion of a banana split: you have perfectly good ice cream, and you’re eating it with a regular banana?!? Why not just have ice cream, and then have the banana? Or ice cream made out of a banana?
So when I came across a recipe for gingerbread pear cake, I thought it sounded lovely, but the big chunks of pear it called for were just strange to me. Just too much fruit in the dessert. But I kept coming back to the recipe—I really love gingerbread. Well, ginger, in general, especially in desserts and cocktails as well as the more standard savory applications. (My love for ginger in cocktails was recently whetted at Brooklyn Social by the Ginger Old-Fashioned, which I highly recommend.) And this recipe, unlike most so-called gingerbreads and their puny allocation of dried spices, calls for a hefty quantity of actual fresh grated ginger.
Oh, but the pears! What to do about those pesky chunks of pear? As is so often the case, Smitten Kitchen came to the rescue: grated pears, infusing the cake with a gentle, even pear flavor, like in banana or zucchini bread. Plus, since this version of the cake has both grated pears and grated ginger, I think it’s fair to say that this cake is, uh, grate.
Dark gingerbread pear cake
Adapted from Gourmet
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cardamom (optional, but really good)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses (not robust or blackstrap)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup finely grated peeled ginger
2 Bosc pears
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, and salt.
Melt butter with water over low heat. When melted, removed from heat.
While butter is melting, peel and core pears. Coarsely grate pears. (Don’t grate pears in advance, or they’ll discolor.)
Beat together brown sugar and molasses with an electric mixer until combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Beat in flour mixture at low speed until just combined. Add butter mixture, ginger, and grated pears, beating just until smooth. Pour into cake pan.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. (Check after 30 minutes.) Cool slightly. Feed to ravenous coworkers.