Pear Cranberry Spiced Cake
I originally made the apple version of this on Thanksgiving. I like pumpkin stuff, but I feel like it gets a little tiresome in the days of pumpkin spice everything, so a little change is welcome! This cake is more of a cakey, pudding-y cobbler. And it also reminds me of what my grandmother calls “poor man’s pie.” You make first make a seasoned fruit mixture, and then you make a batter. You layer them into a pan, and you do not mix it. So this time, I changed it up. I traded the apple for pear, the sour cream for ricotta, and the cinnamon for gingerbread spice mix (which is a blend of ginger, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg).
Apples are pretty close to pears as far as texture and taste goes. But pears tend to be a little softer and sweeter (especially compared to Granny Smith apples), so I recommend getting Anjou pears if you can. Of the normal varieties I see at the store, it is the firmest kind. They are the brighter green (as opposed to reddish brown or yellow). I also decided to use fewer cranberries and more pears than the ratios in the original recipe because I found all the cranberry to be just a little bit too tart for my taste. This version is still tart, but a little sweeter.
This goes perfectly with a little sweetened whipped cream. I like my whipped cream a little bit sweeter that normal, so I add about twice as much sugar to it as most other recipes I’ve seen.
This recipe, along with basically all desserts, calls for unsalted butter. As a rule, I only buy unsalted butter for anything I make. It keeps it simple, and I can always add salt when I need to. Also, I always melt butter in the microwave– it’s so easy! Just put the butter in a microwave-safe bowl and loosely cover it. Microwave on medium in 30-second intervals until the butter is melted. If it needs to cool down a bit before adding it to the recipe (especially if you’ll be adding eggs), just pop it into the freezer for 2-3 minutes or in the fridge for 5-6 minutes.
Total Time: 2 hours
Difficultly Level: Intermediate
Serves: 8 large slices or 12 small slices
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
3 Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
1/4 cup orange juice
1 1⁄8 teaspoons gingerbread spice, divided
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided use
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Sift together the flour and salt, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix, the cranberries, diced pear, brown sugar, orange juice and zest, and 1 teaspoon of the gingerbread spice until well combined.
- In an electric mixture with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high for 2 minutes.
- Turn the mixer down to medium, and add 1 cup of granulated sugar, butter, vanilla, and ricotta. Mix until combined.
- Turn the mixer down to low, and slowly add the flour and salt mixture until combined.
- Spray a 10-inch glass pie pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the apple and cranberry mixture to the pie pan, and spread it out evenly.
- Pour the cake batter over the fruit. Using a rubber spatula, spread it around evenly.
- Sprinkle the extra tablespoon of sugar and pinch of gingerbread spice on top of the cake.
- Bake for 60 to 65 minutes. The fruit should be bubbling, and a toothpick should come out clean.
- Serve with sweetened whipped cream.
(inspired by Ina Garten’s Easy Apple Cranberry Cake)