Aaaah, Spring! Time to clear away the old and move forward with new growth. It’s also a good time to get social, and stop hibernating inside. A brunch, or even a tea party with some delectable, lemony pear cake is just the thing.
These days, I’m not staying up late and partying. In fact, I’m starting to think brunch is the best party to throw. It’s early, it’s easy, and all the busy, vital people you know can probably pop by for a cup of tea and a late breakfast, can’t they?
Back in my restaurant days, the brunch shift was it’s own little world. It was seen as an easy, kind of relaxed time, when the kitchen was full of slightly hungover people, serving equally hungover people out in the dining room. Somehow, delivering pancakes and coffee felt gentler than cranking out dinner. We turned the music down a little and served comforting, rejuvenating food.
Now, I just want to see my friends and share some tea and cake. The relaxing vibe can stay, and if anybody is hungover, well, so be it. Mimosas are optional, but if it works, go for it. They go well with the lemony pear cake, or even these scones.
You might even want to make these lemony cupcakes.
The key to this cake is a sparkling jolt of lemony tartness, summoning up the sunshine that is starting to pour in from above. Peel off those wintry layers, physically and mentally, and clear your mind.
Of course, I see a cake like this as a way to eat some fruit and nuts, and even a little whole grain, all transformed into a decadent treat. You have the options of using aquafaba or eggs, depending on what you are into.
It’s a dead simple easy cake, with no whipping or folding, just a simple stir and bake. Making the caramel sauce involves cooking sugar, but it’s really easy, too. Just boil it til it turns caramel colored, then get it off the heat before it burns. Add the coconut milk off the heat, gradually, so it doesn’t boil up and out of the pan. It’s a great little sauce, if you have leftovers you can pour it over ice cream or dip apple slices in it.
If I can inspire you to have a brunch with friends, or an afternoon tea, I hope you will make this cake. We all need the spiritual nourishment of spending time with people we enjoy. What could be better than serving them good food, good conversation, and a hot cup of tea?
Lemony Pear Cake with Almonds and Caramel Sauce
- 3/4 cup organic sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/2 cup coconut cream from the top of the can
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup unbleached flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
- 2 large eggs or 2/3 cup aquafaba
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 cup organic brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup whole almonds coarsely chopped
- 2 cups chopped pears
- powdered sugar for garnish
- First, make the sauce. In a 2 quart saucepan combine the sugar and water. Stir over medium high heat until the sugar is dissolved. Raise the heat to high and don't stir, just swirl the pan over the heat. Heat the mixture until the bubbling liquid turns from champagne colored to an amber-caramel tone. Take off the heat and immediately, carefully pour in coconut milk a bit at a time, being careful because it will boil right out of the pot if you rush. Put back over the heat, stirring, add salt and cook over medium heat to dissolve all the cooked sugar that formed lumps when the coconut milk went in. When smooth, take off heat and transfer to a pouring cup.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a bundt pan.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, stirring to combine thoroughly. Stir in zest.
- In large bowl or a stand mixer, beat eggs or aquafaba, oil, vanilla and almond extract until well combined. Add to flour mixture and stir to blend. Stir in pears and nuts.
- Scrape batter into the bundt pan. Smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with only moist crumbs attached. Cool 10 minutes on a rack before carefully covering with a cake plate and flipping to remove the pan.When cooled, dust with powdered sugar. Serve with sauce.