Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Last weekend, we had our new friends Brandy and Toya and their daughter Jasper over for brunch and, naturally, I wanted to serve something sweet. The thing about serving sweets at breakfast is that I always feel there should be balance. For example, if I've made cinnamon rolls, we'll also have scrambled egg whites with spinach or something like that. Maybe it's because a former yoga client of mine told me to always eat protein before I ate dessert (keeps you calmer and less insulin is released or something. I'm not a scientist and neither is he, so, we're winging it out here in CA) or maybe it's because I was literally called "fatty" in 4th grade (not that that left a mark or anything), but I do like to balance my sweets with lots of veg and protein. For this occasion, I made a main course called Strata at Toya's suggestion - and, boy was she right. Cheesy, toasty, eggy, and chock-full of vegetables, I want to blog about that another time, so today let's just talk about the cake.
The pudding cake recipe comes from Julie Richardson's Vintage Cakes where she shares its purported history. Apparently first lady Bess Truman served it to Winston Churchill, so, while it's a simple cake, it's got a lofty history. There was nothing in Ms. Richardson's book that suggested one serve it at breakfast, but with all the fruit, I thought, why not? She suggests dried cranberries but I adore the tartness of fresh, plus it's November. Also, she makes hers in a 10" iron skillet and while I definitely recommend that for presentation, I only have a 12" skillet and that would have just made for an overly thin mess. It's easy to see why this is called a pudding cake because it's moist like a giant under-baked cookie. One thing I'll change the next time around is that I won't add the almonds into the batter. Toya and her husband Brandy disagreed with me there, but, it was too much almond for me. I'm putting the recipe exactly as I made it below, but I do recommend perhaps a bit less almond.
By the way, we had a nearly hysterical discussion in which we all tried to figure out where the Ozarks are. I was wrong. Brandy was right. I am humbled by my ignorance of the terrain in my own country. Let's leave it at that.
Anyhow, please make this one. It's easy to put together and really unexpected and different. Excellent warm with fresh whipped cream, it would also love a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and it will also stand alone extremely well. We had a great time eating it up with our new friends and we know you will, too. It's a winner.
Cranberry Pear Ozark Pudding Cake
2 large pears, peeled, quartered and cored
1 C flour
1 t baking powder
1 t ginger
1/2 t salt
4 T butter, at room temp
1 C sugar
1 large egg, at room temp
1 t vanilla
1/2 C slivered almonds, toasted
2/3 C fresh cranberries, roughly chopped
1 additional t sugar, set aside
whipped cream for serving
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a 10" springform or cake pan.
Finely chop one of the pears and thinly slice the other. Halve 3 or 4 cranberries and set them aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder, ginger, salt into a bowl and whisk them together. Set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until just blended. Add the egg and vanilla and blend on medium another 5 minutes, until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl once a minute or so. Set your mixer on low and add the flour mixture. Blend. It's going to look like cookie dough.
Fold in the chopped pear and roughly chopped cranberries (not the halved ones) plus about 1/4 C of the almonds. Once blended, pour the batter into your pan and spread evenly throughout.
Fan the sliced pears in a wide circle and add your halved cranberries in the center. Sprinkle with the additional 1 t sugar and the remaining almonds.
Bake 35-40 minutes, until set. It'll still be wet-looking. That's fine. In fact, it's an asset.
Serve warm with freshly whipped cream. Mmm.