Spiced pear cake with salted caramel glaze is tender and comforting, ideal for any occasion.
Note: This post was updated January 19, 2017.
Music has really been digging into my brain lately. I’m one of those who manages to connect to lyrics, with whatever is going on in my life, a trait that only gets more pronounced the longer I listen to show tunes and indie rock. I don’t know how much music I was listening to in December 2007, but if it had tipped the scales toward the emo side of my life I might not have made it through.
Back then I was in the throes of maternity leave, spending a lot of time watching daytime television in between nursings, naps, and nappies. Despite the new life I had brought into the world, I felt completely alone. I couldn’t wait to get back to work. To be among people who could hold conversations again.
It’s strange how you think nothing of day to day interactions – a passing word at the coffee pot, a debate about language, even just gossiping about the latest Top Chef results — until you’re trying to engage an 8-week-old baby on why putting Cap’n Crunch in a milkshake is so over. He doesn’t know. His palate only knows breastmilk, which, if you think too hard about it, is probably similar in taste to a Cap’n Crunch milkshake.
This is why I pranced back to work at the end of those three months. And yet…
Friday is the last day I’ll spend in my gray and tan cubicle. I am relieved and yet terrified. I’ve been working since I was 14. Quitting my job feels like a period. Full stop.
When I gave notice I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. In the days since then I’ve had nagging anxiety, stress-induced migraines, and what I can only assume is a panic attack. When you’re working on changing your life story, sailing into it on calm waters is an impractical dream.
I’ve been trying to plan out what the next month or so will entail, but I can’t even seem to catch my breath these days. I need to start slow. Too much too soon, and we’ll be right where we started, but in a more comfortably decorated location. To answer the question of what I’ll be doing, I’ll be freelancing, working on a few projects, and taking care of my son. But right now? I’m just trying to take some moments to sit and calmly be.
Everyone deserves a chance to fly.
In the grand tradition of job quitting, I made a cake. Cake always factors in at work, whether you’re getting married or diving into an unfamiliar sea of unemployment. My cake-rocking friends left the job months ago, and I knew that if I wanted cake, I should make it myself.
This cake was inspired by two women I’m in awe of. By making it, I’m hoping to channel some of their strength and wisdom. Because that’s how cake works, right?
The basis of the cake is brought on by Ruth Reichl, and Garlic and Sapphires. While her (some say dream) job at the Times can barely be compared with my days copyediting assessment tests, the end result has both of us itching for more time in the kitchen and with our families. It seemed fitting to use Nicky’s Vanilla Cake as my base — the cake that brought Reichl back home.
But with how much I’m missing true autumn, I also turned to Stephanie of confituras. Specifically, her salted caramel pear butter, a conserve that those of us in the know hoard all winter. Stephanie has had her jam business for a little more than a year, but it has already blown up all over town, and she recently quit her regular job to jam full time. Can I be as successful as Stephanie in my post-9-to-5 life? I won’t know until I know, and I won’t know until I try.
Fluffy, moist, and stuffed full of pears, this cake can pull double duty. Serve it unadorned at breakfast, and with the salted caramel glaze for afternoon tea or dessert.
Love caramel? Try my caramel apple slab pie.
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 5.3- ounce container Greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups diced pears
For the topping
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a bundt cake pan.
- Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
- Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices, then stir into batter.
- Stir in yogurt and vanilla until well combined and no white streaks remain. The batter will be very thick. Fold in pears.
- Spoon into the bundt pan. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let cake cool 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the topping, combine butter, dark brown sugar, and cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and melt, stirring. Once melted, increase slightly and bring to a full rolling boil for 1 minute.
- Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla (be careful, as the caramel will bubble up). Add sifted powdered sugar and whisk until completely incorporated and smooth. Whisk in salt to taste. Let cool slightly, then pour over the cake. The topping will firm up as it cools.
Glaze minimally adapted from the Hungry Housewife.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 servings Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 525Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 130mgSodium: 728mgCarbohydrates: 62gFiber: 2gSugar: 40gProtein: 7g