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story.lead_photo.caption Cake-Stuffed Pears - Photo by Kelly Brant

Even though we still have 10 days left in the astronomical summer -- the autumnal equinox will take place at 8:54 p.m. Sept. 22 -- my thoughts and cravings have already turned to fall.

Specifically pears.

Just steps from my maternal grandparents' back door were two giant pear trees. I can't tell you what variety -- maybe Bartlett and Bosc -- only that both trees produced greenish yellowish brownish pears. And my pawpaw Pat would peel and slice them as quickly as I could gobble them up. In late summer through fall there were always plenty of fresh pears "curing" on the table next to the porch swing and near their pantry. And any time of year you could find pear pies and Pear Pecan Cake in their deep freezer.

Granny Tommie's Pear Pecan Cake is a family favorite -- even on my dad's side of the family.

I recently came up with this recipe -- inspired by a recipe in The Ultimate One-Pan Oven Cookbook by Julia Konovalova -- so I wouldn't be tempted by an entire cake of my granny's recipe.

Cake-Stuffed Pears

2 ripe, but firm pears

1/4 lemon

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon milk or half-and-half

1 egg

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus a pinch for the glaze

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch salt

1/4 to 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1 tablespoon water or milk, as needed for glaze

Fresh mint sprigs, optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut pears in half lengthwise and, using a melon-baller or metal spoon, scoop out core and stem. Place pears in a single layer, cut side up, in a small baking dish. Set aside.

Squeeze 1/2 teaspoon juice from the lemon and place the juice in a medium bowl. Squeeze the remaining lemon juice over the pears and rub lemon over cut sides to prevent browning.

To the lemon juice in the bowl, add the butter, milk or half-and-half, egg and sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, the flour, baking powder and salt and mix well. Divide batter among pears filling each cavity with a generous tablespoon of batter.

Pour about 1/2 cup water into the baking dish, just enough to cover the bottom.

Bake 30 to 45 minutes or until pears are tender and cake is golden brown. Transfer pears to a serving platter.

In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, a pinch of ground cinnamon and enough water or milk to make thin glaze. Drizzle glaze over pears. Garnish with mint, if desired.

Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings.

Pear Pecan Cake

2 cups granulated sugar

3 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 cups thinly sliced pears

1 cup chopped pecans PLUS a few halves for garnish

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a tube pan or 2 loaf pans; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat sugar, eggs and oil.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture, one cup at a time, to the sugar mixture. Mixing well between each addition. Stir in vanilla, cinnamon and pears. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Place remaining pecan halves on top of batter.

Bake for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Freezes well. To freeze, cool cake(s) completely, then wrap in plastic or foil and place in a freezer zip-close bag, removing as much as as possible.

Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Food on 09/12/2018

Print Headline: Pears take starring role in cake recipes

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