November is a good time to be baking away in the kitchen and a perfect time to enjoy ingredients of the season. Eat fresh chestnuts while you can, enjoy a wide range of root vegetables, cabbage and pumpkins and squashes. And make the most of the fruits of fall. One of autumn's many bounties, pears are endless in their uses. I like them in savory dishes such as quiches, or in salads, as part of a bruschetta topping, and in soups – then there are the sweet treats such as pear tarts and crumbles, poached pears, and many more. Pears are wonderful just plain, on their own, but they also pair particularly well with warm spices such as cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. And I love the combination of pears and ginger.
So this lovely no-fuss, mid-week, treat of a cake combines my favorite autumn fruit with my favorite warm spices and flavors – vanilla, ginger and a hint of cinnamon. Plus the addition of a bit of Quark (fresh cheese) adds just enough tang to balance out the sweetness of the fruit. While almonds add a nice final touch and their natural sweetness compliments this cake beautifully.
Spiced Pear Cake with Quark
Ingredients for the Cake Batter
- 200 grams unsalted butter (room temperature), plus extra for greasing the baking pan
- 200 grams superfine (caster) sugar
- 8 grams vanilla sugar*
- 3 eggs (M) organic or free range
- 200 grams wheat (AP) flour
- 10 grams baking powder
- a pinch of fine sea salt
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon
- 3 tbsps Quark (fresh cheese) or use Greek yogurt (room temperature
For the Pears
- 3 pears (baking variety, fragrant and ripe but still a bit firm)
- a good squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 tbsp superfine (caster) sugar OR use regular sugar
For the Topping
- slivered almonds
- 1 tbsp superfine (caster) sugar
- Lightly butter a retangular baking pan (33 cm x 22 cm or 13 x 9 inches), line the base and sides with baking parchment. Set aside.
- For the pears: peel, core, and halve the pears. Thinly slice each half lengthwise without cutting all the way through to the core side, leaving the halves hinged together. Carefully place the prepared pears in a glass bowl, add lemon juice and sugar to bowl and let the pear halves macerate while preparing the cake batter.
- Pre-heat your oven to 180 ° C (375°F).
- For the cake batter: mix, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla sugar together until pale, then gradually mix in eggs (one by one).
- In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger and cinnamon.
- Fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture.
- Gently fold the Quark into the cake batter, making sure not to overmix the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, smooth the surface, then place the prepared pear halves on top of the batter.
- Top with slivered almonds and sugar.
- Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow to cool in the baking pan.
- Dust lightly with confectioners sugar just before serving (optional).
This Spiced Pear Cake with Quark makes a lovely teatime treat or even breakfast cake (after all there is fruit and Quark in there). Simply serve as is or perhaps with softly whipped cream.
This cake also works well with apples and just cinnamon and the cake keeps well, for a good day or two, wrapped in food wrap (clingfilm).
If you ask me, autumn baking truly is the best – before all the hustle and bustle of the upcoming holiday season is upon us, it is always a good idea to get some easy, delicious baking done to enjoy all by yourself, with family and friends…and don`t forget to serve your favorite tea or coffee alongside.