Mike and I took a trip to visit my great Aunt and Uncle and several second and third cousins of mine recently. I was very much looking forward to the trip, as I visited their lake house often as a child. I remembered the house, tucked away in the trees, feeling so warm and inviting, with a stone pathway that led to the still water. I’ve realized in the past few years how important family really is–especially family you really connect with. The ones who tell you stories of their past–your family history, and give you wisdom for the future. My great Uncle is the brother of my Grandfather, whom I never had the privilege of meeting. I’ve heard they have very similar personalities, warm and inviting, much like the way I remember the lake house, with a keen sense of adventure and a quick wit. I was anxious to see if my memories aligned with reality, and they did.
The only stipulation of coming for a visit was that I bring something delicious to share. A friend of mine picked an abundant amount of pears, and graciously shared them with me, so I decided on a warm, pear cake with a hint of spice to welcome the fall season.
Maple Bourbon Pear Cake with Caramel Sauce
for the cake:
4 pears, 2 finely chopped and 2 thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups einkorn flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 jigger bourbon
for the raw caramel sauce:
2 cups pitted dates, soaked for at least 4 hours
¼ cup raw nut or seed butter (almond, cashew, tahini, sunflower)
4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 tsp vanilla
soaking water as needed
Heat oven to 325°F. Butter a 9 inch cast iron skillet. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, and salt. Cream together butter and maple syrup. Add egg, vanilla, and bourbon, and beat for another minute or two. Turn mixer to low and add in dry mixture. Mix just until blended. Fold in finely chopped pears. Pour batter into skillet and smooth into an even layer. Arrange sliced pears on top. Bake about 35-40 minutes or until golden and toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center of cake.
While cake is baking, prepare caramel sauce. Add dates, nut butter, lemon juice, vanilla, and vanilla bean seeds to food processor. Process until smooth and creamy. Add soaking water, as needed, until it reaches a consistency of your liking. Slice cake and serve warm with a drizzle of caramel sauce.