Pear Apple Plum Cake

For those of you who regularly bake, how much more baking do you around the holidays? Do you use tried and true recipes or do you like to explore new recipes? I usually turn it up a notch or two for Christmas since I tend to give baked goods for hostess gifts. And I’m not shy with experimenting with recipes, even for gifts, simply because I never seem to have time for a trial run.

This cake, on the other hand, was tried out a month ago by some friends, and I’m happy to say it passed everyone’s palate test. The judges included a butter-loather and a whatever-you-call-the-opposite-of-a-sweet-tooth. I modified the original recipe by adding pear compote I still had from my pear pies for moistness, but you could use 1/4 cup orange juice like the original recipe does. I also reduced the amount of sugar because of my pear compote addition, and I used melted butter in place of oil for a finer cake texture.

For those of you who need a recipe for a fruit cake that most* people will actually eat, you should try this one out this holiday season. I already did the work of testing out the recipe, and I, along with some friends, approve!

*Personally, I love and will devour fruitcakes from Collin Street Bakery in Texas, but I admit I may be biased!

Pear Apple Plum Cake
adapted from Country Living

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 plums, peeled, cored, sliced
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pear compote

1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees and prepare a bundt cake pan by greasing.
2. In a large bowl, 2 tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon. Add apples and plums and toss to combine.
3. In another large bowl, mix flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add eggs, butter, pear compote, and vanilla extract. Beat until batter is smooth.
4. Pour half of the batter into prepared pan. Top with half of apple/plum mixture. Spoon remaining batter over fruit mixture and top with remaining fruit.
5. Bake about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Run a paring knife around the sides and center of cake and turn cake out onto cake stand or serving plate.

Pear Hand Pies

Today I’m interrupting the matcha cake posts with this seasonal post about a fall pie. Rectangular pear hand pies, to be specific. And the pie story goes like this:

Last week I came home to a 1/2 peck of pears. I am very lucky to have a husband that not only helps with the grocery shopping, but loves buying fresh produce. (Thank you Baba and Mama for raising him so well!) This time we had an overabundance of produce, and something had to be done with the pears.

Some kind of pear compote was the only thing on my mind, so that’s what I made.

Now that we’re well into fall, pie was a very fitting choice of container for the pear filling. As for my choice of making hand pies over traditional pie, it just felt right. Hand pies are typically made from circular cutouts of dough folded over, but since my feelings were largely guiding this recipe, I went with rectangles.

It is really something to enjoy a warm pear pie (in any form) on a brisk fall day like today. Now my mind is racing with all sorts of hand pie fillings. And I’m curious what y’all think, what would you put (or like to eat) in a hand pie?

Pear Hand Pies

1/4 cup flour for dusting
Pate Brisee (recipe below)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 pounds fresh pears, peeled, cored, and cubed
2/3 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large pot or dutch oven, melt butter and brown sugar. Once melted, add in pears, salt and lemon juice.
3. Let cook for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let cool for another 30 minutes.
4. Bring pate brisee to room temperature, and on a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut dough into rectangles measuring 4″ x 8″. Dough recipe should make about 12 rectangles of this size.
5. Place couple spoonfuls of pear filling onto lower half of each rectangle.
6. Fold top half of rectangle over pear filling, and press sides to seal the pie.
7. Carefully place pies on Silpat-lined baking sheet and pop in refrigerator for about 10 minutes.
8. Use a fork to imprint marks all around sealed edges of pie dough. Cut a few slits across the folded part of the pie for vents. Sprinkle pies with granulated sugar.
9. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until crust is golden, making sure not to burn the edges.
10. Let cool slightly before serving.

Pate Brisee (Pie Dough)
from Martha Stewart

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
2. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
3. Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.