This old-fashioned, moist cake, jazzed up with vanilla bean and roasted pears, takes on even more flavor if you start the pears a day ahead so they can steep in their syrup. The recipe comes from Romney Steele, author of Plum Gorgeous.
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 9-in. tube pan* or 10- to 11-cup nonstick Bundt pan, knocking out excess flour.
Make topping: Combine brown sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Slice pears lengthwise 1/3 in. thick if using tube pan or chop if using Bundt pan.
Make cake: Beat butter and granulated sugar with a mixer until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping inside of bowl after each addition. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean and add to bowl (save pod for another use). Add syrup and sour cream; beat to combine.
Combine dry ingredients. Add to batter and beat on low speed until blended; batter will be thick.
Sprinkle half the nut mixture in pan, then arrange half the pears on top. Spoon half the batter over pears and spread evenly. Repeat layers. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes for a tube pan, 45 minutes for a Bundt pan.
Let cool in pan on a rack about 45 minutes. Loosen cake from sides of pan with a small, slender spatula and invert onto a plate. If any toppings stick in pan, loosen with spatula and replace on cake.
*You can order a 9-in. tube pan ($18) from amazon.com.
Make ahead: Up to 1 day, chilled; set on a baking sheet, wrap in foil, and rewarm in a 350° oven about 15 minutes.
The picture makes the topping look almost creamy and that wasn't the case for me. The topping stuck to the bundt pan and I had to put it back on the cake...not sure if I tried to invert the bundt too soon or not soon enough. I used canned pears rather than the sherry-roasted pears. I really like the pears in the cake. If I make this recipe again, I will use at least two cans of pears. I also used liquid vanilla instead of a vanilla bean. The batter was really rich but the end result isn't that rich, likely because I used whole wheat flour.
This one sounds excellent- I cant help but wonder.. would dates or figs be great instead of pears?? Probably so.. if roasted and melowed in Sherry ( I would certainly use only sweet dessert sherry, like Harvey's Bristol Cream or similar type- not cooking sherry- that would not be correct for a dessert like this) and if the fruit were made a day ahead to allow to absorb and mellow the flavor- all the better.
Looks as good as the Coffee Lovers' Coffee Cake. I'll make this one too. Each afternoon at 4 o'clock, I make a pot of coffee and treat myself. Although I am now following Michael Pollan's Food Rule #60 (and the others, of course), I will make it for Sunday afternoons.
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