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Pear Bread

02/28/2010

There are some foods that really fit the season. We’ve had a lot of snow this year. Thursday, I walked the two miles to work through slush-snow, a stupid idea that resulted in my snow boots soaking through to my socks. By four o’clock, the snow was so bad and accumulating so much that my boss told us to go home. Unfortunately, my trek home had to involve a stop at the grocery store, where way too many frantic New Yorkers were stocking up for Y2K part two. But once I got home and had eaten dinner, I set about making this cake. As I’ve said before, I thought I wasn’t much of a baker. But the truth is, after a long day of working on a computer and battling the elements, there was something both uplifting and soothing about measuring, stirring, and grating. Plus I had some excellent company in the process, which always helps.

I first made this cake when I was home in January for a big family dinner. I was a little bit nervous to tell them it was pear cake–I was worried they would get scared of anything that wasn’t one of the family favorites. But even the youngest kids tucked in heartily. And then I told them it was pear cake.

The truth is that this cake tastes nothing like pear. While I served it for dessert after dinner both times that I made it, the flavors and the density are reminiscent of a brunch coffee cake or spice cake with the moistness of a zucchini or banana bread. Although the recipe calls for nuts, I left them out fearing allergies and picky eaters, although I bet they would be delicious additions.

Pear Bread
From The Smitten Kitchen

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
3/4 cup butter, softened, or 3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
2 to 4 pears firm, ripe pears, depending on size (you’ll need 2 grated cups total, but I don’t recommend you grate them until you are about to use them, so they don’t brown)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat your oven to 350°F and lightly grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan or two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans. (I made a couple of muffins to taste–I think they were better than the cake!)

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl, and stir with a fork to mix everything well. If you’re using nuts, scoop out about 1/4 cup of the flour mixture and combine it in a small bowl with the chopped walnuts, stirring and tossing to coat the nuts with the flour.

Peel and core pears, then grate them. You’ll want two grated cups total; set them briefly aside. In a medium bowl, combine the butter or oil, eggs, sugar, grated pear, nuts (if using), and vanilla, and stir to mix everything well. Scrape the pear mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until the flour disappears and the batter is evenly moistened.

Quickly scrape the batter into the prepared pans and bake at 350°F for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the bread is handsomely browned and firm on top and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack or folded kitchen towel for about 10 minutes. Then turn it out onto a plate or a wire rack to cool completely, top side up. Serve it as is, sprinkle it with confectioners sugar or drizzle it with a simple glaze made from whisking 3 tablespoons buttermilk, a dash of vanilla and 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar together.

Pear Bread on Foodista

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