PEAR BREAKFAST CAKE
Pears always seem like fall. However, I like them any time of the year. Their mellow, earthy sweet taste is wonderful in salads, a wide range of desserts, and just simply fresh, eaten out of the hand. This cake is best if allowed to set after baking and served either warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 6 servings
1 ½ cups plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar, divided (2 Tablespoons for batter, 1/3 cup for topping, 2 teaspoons to sprinkle over the top)
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon ( ½ teaspoon reserved to mix with 2 teaspoons sugar, above)
¼ cup (1/2 stick) sweet (unsalted) butter, cut into ½ inch squares
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla, Mexican if possible
¾ cup sour cream
3 firm, ripe pears
A sprinkle of ground cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 375F, making sure the rack is in the upper third of the oven. Butter a 9 inch round cake pan. Combine the dry ingredients, reserving 2 Tablespoons of flour and 1/3 cup of sugar in a bowl and reserving 2 teaspoons of the granulated sugar in a separate small bowl. Stir in the salt, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
2. Using your hands, a pastry blender, or the beater blade of the mixer, cut in the butter. Mix until uniform and no large particles of butter remain. In a separate small bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and vanilla and stir into the above dry ingredients. Spread the batter evenly into the buttered pan.
3. Combine the reserved 2 Tablespoons of flour, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and sour cream and carefully smooth over the batter.
4. Peel, quarter, and core the pears. Then cut into long medium thick slices and arrange overlapping in a large circle just inside the edge of the pan. (An apple corer, slicer is a great gadget to use.) Place the remaining pears in a circle inside that one. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
5. Remove the foil and sprinkle with the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar and cinnamon. Bake for another 30 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean and the pears are tender and lightly browned.
6. To serve, place a paper doily on the cake and sieve some powdered sugar over it using the holes in the doily to make a pattern. Remove the doily and place foil over the top if you are transporting the cake. Otherwise serve it warm right from the oven or serving tray.