This recipe evolved from Maida Heatter's Kentucky poundcake recipe that was first published in her Book of Great Desserts. Heatter is truly a dessert goddess, and we would heartily endorse her idea of buying her complete collection of cookbooks, which are jam-packed with wonderful creations.
Ingredients for the cake
3-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
24 tablespoons unsalted butter (3 sticks), at room temperature
zest of 1 orange, grated
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup pear brandy, plain brandy, or orange juice
2-1/4 cups ripe but firm pears, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
Ingredients for the glaze
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup pear brandy, plain brandy, or orange juice
Preparation for the cake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Thoroughly butter a 10-inch Bundt pan. Dust with flour, shaking out excess. Set the pan aside.
3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Reserve.
4. Cream the butter with the orange zest and vanilla extract, very gradually adding the brown sugar until the mixture is smooth and light.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate after each addition.
6. Add the reserved flour mixture, alternating with the milk and pear brandy, stopping occasionally to scrape the bowl thoroughly.
7. Stir in the diced pears and place the batter in the prepared pan.
8. Bake for approximately 1 hour and 25 minutes. The cake will be golden brown and firm to the touch; it will be just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan and will "test done" with a cake tester or skewer, which will come out clean when inserted in the cake.
9. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the sugar and pear brandy in a small saucepan to make the glaze. Cook over low heat until the mixture comes to a simmer and the sugar just dissolves.
10. Turn the cake out of the pan. With a pastry brush, brush the warm glaze over the entire surface of the cake. Allow to cool.
NOTE: This cake is actually better made a day in advance. It will keep for several days if well wrapped. Different fruits can be substituted for the pears; you might try apples, cranberries, or blueberries, for example. Nuts can be added in lieu of fruit, and, as in most recipes, you can vary the spicing and alcohol components if you wish.
Reprinted from Not Afraid of Flavor: Recipes from Magnolia Grill, with the permission of UNC Press.