The rain poured outside as I put this cake together. It had been coming down since 3am. That morning, my eldest daughter woke me excitedly around 7am so we could have breakfast together on the porch because she knows how much I enjoy a good rain. That day was more momentous than most because my brother-in-law Daniel was returning from Malaysia with his wife Erin and their new baby. They had been gone for two years and our whole family was eager to welcome them back to the States.
A homecoming is a good occasion for a cake (If I knew that you were coming I’d have…). So I checked my pantry and found what I needed to make one of my favorites. Everything about this dessert makes me think about Fall and home and getting cozy on a cold day.
Much like a fruitcake, there is a high ratio of fruits and nuts in this batter. The fragrant spices pair nicely with the fresh pear and toasted walnut. Try it, you won’t be disappointed.
Here’s what you are going to need:
Let’s play a game. Can you spot the extra ingredient? Can you spot the missing ingredient? This is what happens when you are working on the recipe at the same time as you are making it.
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 2 cups all-purpose flour plus a little extra for the pan, divided
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup real maple syrup (accept no substitutes!)
- 2 tablespoons bourbon (or substitute 1 tablespoon vanilla)
- 3/4 cup canola oil
- Zest of one orange, about 1 tablespoon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
- 2 cups peeled pear cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2-3 pears)
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons walnuts, toasted, chopped and divided
MAPLE BOURBON GLAZE
- 1/2 cup real maple syrup
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
- pinch of kosher salt
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using softened butter, coat the sides and center tube of a 10-inch Bundt pan. Make sure the butter is in every nook and cranny. Next, toss in a little flour and knock it around until it coats the butter. This will ensure clean removal of the cake later.
Put the nuts on a cookie sheet and toast in the hot oven for 5-7 minutes. Take care not to let them burn. Chop the nuts. Place the raisins in a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the flour until coated (this will prevent them sinking to the bottom of the cake…which will later be the top of the cake). Peel, core and chop the pears:
Beat the 3 eggs and 1 cup sugar in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until the color lightens, about 2 minutes.
Add the maple syrup, bourbon, oil and orange zest.
Continue to mix until homogenous. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining flour, kosher salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. The smell that hit me as I poured the spiced flour into the bowl was pungent and wonderful. Mix on low speed until incorporated.
Take the bowl off the mixer. Fold in the pears, raisins and nuts (reserving 2 tablespoons to garnish the cake) by hand until well distributed.
Pour into the prepared 10-inch tube pan.
Bake about 50 to 60 minutes, until the top is golden brown and springs back when pressed.
Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes (I have a real patience problem when it comes to waiting this long, but it’s important if you want the cake to turn out intact). Now it’s time to flip. This stage can be a little nerve wracking. I like to pull at the edge gently to determine if the cake is going to come out clean. When you’re ready, hold the cooling wrack firmly and upside down on the top of the Bundt pan. Take a breath and flip it. It will probably slide right out, but, if not, give it a couple of firm wraps with your knuckles. Once out of the pan, cool the cake to room temperature, about an hour.
To glaze the cake, whisk together all of the glaze ingredients in a medium size bowl until smooth.
Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake. One of the great things about a Bundt cake is that it isn’t fussy. Just let the glaze run down the sides.
This moist flavorful cake can be stored covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.
I am a maple freak, and love love love the maple glaze that goes on this cake. If you don’t share my predilection, however, you can substitute the Orange Glaze listed below for a citrusy alternative.
ORANGE BOURBON GLAZE
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
- 3-4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- pinch of kosher salt