This year, I’m going to make a serious effort to have a relaxing Thanksgiving. I’m going to prep the night before, maybe even two nights before because it’s that serious. I’m going to stick to the plan, and not decide to make a different dessert the morning of or make an extra dessert just for the hell of it. I’m going to arrive to dinner on time, my pies will not still be in the oven when I’m already supposed to be at my aunt’s place with the rest of the family. I’m going to be rested and put together AND I will still have energy to see friends after dinner (and maybe even go out dancing to burn off some of that turkey). My mind is made up.
If you’re still looking for a dessert to make for Thanksgiving, I have something for you. This gem comes from the final issue of Gourmet. It’s been three years and I am still mourning the loss of Gourmet. Because it was the Thanksgiving issue, I find myself thumbing through the pages every holiday season, flagging recipes that I want to add to my repertoire. I’m finally getting around to trying one of them.
I was pretty set on making my usual pie and gallette for Thanksgiving this year. But this pear cranberry cake really grabbed my attention. It just screams “happy holidays.” So I decided to give it a whirl last weekend and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. I was also surprised by how much I consumed. I’ve test driven it twice in the past week and it has gotten the thumbs up from my most discerning tasters.
This cake is the perfect ending to your Turkey Day feast, especially if you’re not a pie person. But even the most die-hard pie lovers will swoon over this cake. You can make it in a bundt or tube pan. It’s studded with tart, fresh cranberries and diced pear, and finished off with a generous coating of brown sugar caramel sauce, which is to die for. And since it’s the easiest thing to throw together, you can have yourself a cocktail (or three) and take it easy this Thanksgiving.
pear cranberry bundt cake
adapted from Gourmet, November 2009
for the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1-3/4 cups sugar
1-1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons rum (optional)
3 Bosc pears (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups cranberries (thawed if frozen)
for the glaze:
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 (3-inch-long) cinnamon sticks
special equipment: 10-by 4-inch angel food cake pan or 15- cup Bundt pan
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter cake pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together sugar and oil at low speed. Continue mixing and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla and rum and beat on low until combined well.
At low speed, mix in the pears and cranberries, then mix in the flour until incorporated.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
Cool in pan 30 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely.
Bring cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, cinnamon sticks, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, then simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
Cool glaze 5-10 minutes, until it is the consistency of a medium-bodied caramel sauce. Discard cinnamon sticks, then pour glaze over cake, letting some drip down sides.