November 18, 2022
Almond Cake with Caramelized Pears
“I call it THE cake. It’s showstopping and beautiful; I like to make it on a Wednesday and snack on it all week.” — Anna Rupert
Yield: Serves 8 to 10
MAKE BATTER AND BAKE CAKE
- Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and line deep 9″ or 10″ springform pan with parchment paper.
- In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and granulated sugar together on medium-low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until very light and pale. You can also cream it in food processor, until smooth and just blended. Mix in icing sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add vanilla and almond extracts.
- In medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Add mixture to batter and mix, just until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, depending on thickness of cake, or until centre of cake feels firm when pressed and cake tester inserted into centre comes out clean, or when instant-read thermometer registers at least 185F when inserted into centre. Cool in pan on wire rack.
MAKE CARAMELIZED PEARS
- Peel pears, cut in half, lengthwise, cut away ends and remove cores (a melon baller works well for this). Set aside in bowl of cold water with lemon slices to prevent browning.
- Sprinkle sugar over bottom of deep 10″ or 11″ skillet. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes over medium-high heat, or until sugar melts and starts to brown, shaking pan (but not stirring) if sugar is melting and browning unevenly. Do not leave pan as, once it starts to brown, it burns quickly. (If it burns, do not add pears to see what happens next — discard and start again. At this point, you’re only wasting a little sugar and time.) Once you’ve successfully made your caramel, add vanilla bean, cardamom pods and pears, cut-side down, along with lemon slices. The mixture may sputter a bit. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes. Turn off heat and, standing back, pour in wine and water. The mixture may bubble up, but don’t worry.
- Cook over medium-low heat, covered, for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until pears are just tender. When pears are ready, transfer them to shallow serving dish along with lemon slices. If there is a lot of liquid in pan, reduce it to about ⅓ cup. Pour over pears. Discard cardamom pods but rinse off vanilla beans, dry them, and keep them in your sugar canister.
- Whip cream, if using. Serve pears with sauce and lemon slices, warm or at room temperature, on or with cake and cream.
Note: I think this cake is best eaten cold or at room temperature. It can be made 1 to 2 days in advance, or weeks in advance and frozen. This cake is perfect just plain (the way Anna likes it), but topping it with whipped cream and caramelized pears is pretty incredible, too.
Recipe excerpted from Don’t Worry, Just Cook by Bonnie Stern and Anna Rupert, published by Appetite by Random House, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada. ©2022 Bonnie Stern Cooking Schools and Anna Rupert. Food photography by Tyler Anderson. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.