3 hours ago
Friday, February 13, 2009
If you have been reading my blog since the beginning, you will remember that I stated "I love to cook, but don't like to bake". I have always felt it limited my creativity in the kitchen, because I had to follow ingredients and measurements like science.
Well, I have changed my mind. I am a woman, therefore, entitled to change my mind anytime I want to.
I have been enjoying baking lately, and have included a baking post once a week on the blog.
I no longer am afraid to add a dash of cinnamon or vanilla to a recipe that doesn't call for certain ingredients. I have substituted yogurt for sour cream in cakes with perfect results and added nuts and raisins to batter all by myself! with no one telling me to do so!
However, I never screw around with baking powder and baking soda. I got a D in chemistry class.
I find it relaxing to bake, therapeutic almost.
I like baking at night, preferably at 10 pm, when the kitchen is nice and clean and I have a burst of energy.
I have also found that I am actually good at it.
I still have not made a ganache or baba rhums, or Claire's Canneles in wax molds or any other magnificent pastries like on Tartelette's blog (frighteningly beautiful), but am competent enough to turn out great cakes and cookies, cupcakes, biscotti and good tarts.
My sister in law, who is an excellent baker, said to me recently "I thought you hated baking? how come you have all these desserts on your blog?".
Well, I have decided that I like baking now.
Last night's 10 pm therapy session found me making an upside down pear almond cake, made from ground almonds and baked in a cast iron skillet. This was much like a tarte tatin usually made with caramelized apples then inverted, but this recipe uses pears and almonds.
This was best eaten warm, a few minutes out of the oven. Thank God I didn't have any vanilla ice cream or I would've thought I died and went to heaven.
This was seriously good and seriously simple.
Upside Down Pear & Almond Cake (from the book Seriously Simple):
1 cup whole almonds, ground in a food processor
2/3 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup orange juice (preferably fresh)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
for the pears:
2 tbsp butter
2-3 pears, peeled and sliced into 1/2" thick slices
3 tbsp packed light brown sugar
Oven at 350.
Mix your first 3 dry ingredients together and set aside.
With a mixer, beat your butter and sugar until pale and golden.
Add your eggs, orange juice, vanilla and almond extract and mix.
Now add your dry ingredients to the egg butter mixture and mix just to combine.
Now caramelize your pears.
In a well seasoned 9" cast iron skillet (my newest purchase!), melt the butter over high heat. Add the brown sugar, stir to dissolve, and cook until bubbly. Add the pear slices in a single layer. Cook in the syrup for 2 minutes, use tongs to turn them over, until lightly caramelized. Be careful that the syrup doesn't become too dark. The pears will exude juice and help to keep the caramel from burning. Remove from the heat and let cool 3 minutes.
Pour your batter over the pears and gently spread the batter to cover the pears.
Bake for 45-50 minutes. Cool in skillet 10 minutes and then carefully invert onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.
One of the best cakes I have ever made!