Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fall Fun Day

When my big kids were little we had a fall tradition. We'd take a day off from schooling (easy to do when I'm the teacher) and have Fall Fun Day. We'd go for a walk and talk about all the signs of fall that we saw. The prettiest leaves were picked up and carried home. We used the leaves for crayon rubbing pictures or made place mats out of them. Then we'd drink mugs of hot cider, read fall stories, and make caramel apples. It wasn't a day of hard learning, but hopefully it made some fun memories that they'll carry through life. And someday when they have kids of their own, they'll think, as the leaves start to turn, "Hey, we should go on a walk and then have some hot spiced cider."

One of the foods that seems very fallish to me is pears. I've not done a lot with pears, though, because I seem to either get pears that are crispy or pears that are mealy. Either way is not good. But on a recent Trader Joe's expedition I picked up a 4-pack of lovely Bartlett pears that turned out to be just perfect. Juicy, flavorful, and delicious. We'd consumed two before I remembered the recipe. The one I'd ripped out of a magazine years ago. The one I'd been wanting to make but never seemed to have all the ingredients at the same time. I pulled it out, praying that two pears would be enough. It was, and I had everything else on the list. Well, almost everything. I didn't have non-fat sour cream, so I used non-fat plain yogurt. They have a similar taste, consistency, and basically serve the same purpose in baked goods. Plus it makes me happier to use yogurt than fake food.

Amazingly, this beautiful little cake is not laden with humongous amounts of calories. It has a light, delicate crumb to go with its gentle pear flavor. It's a perfect cake to pop in the oven when you've got friends coming over for coffee. Or make it with your kids and start a new fall tradition.

Pear Cake with Pine Nuts
adapted from Cooking Light

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 salt
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup non-fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup 1% milk
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 large egg
2 cups thinly sliced, peeled pear

1- Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.

2- Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl, stir well with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Remove 1/3 cup flour mixture, place in a small bowl. Stir in pine nuts and cinnamon, set aside.

3- Combine the flour mixture with the next 7 ingredients (yogurt through egg) in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Pour the batter into prepared cake pan. Arrange the pear slices evenly over the batter. Sprinkle with pine nut mixture. Bake at 350 deg. for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into 8 slices.


Patricia Scarpin said...

Lynn, my mom absolutely loved pears - I always think of her when I see pears!

This cake is just superb!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

That seems just perfect! Cooking light has some of my favorites!

VeggieGirl said...

oooh, your Fall Fun Day activities sound like fun!! :0)

I love pears, and have never thought about pairing them with pine nuts - how intriguing!!

VeggieGirl said...

p.s. I'm veganizing that Mrs. King's Cookies recipe, tomorrow - I'm psyched!! I'll let you know how they turn out :0)

Belinda said...

Pears and apples, at this time of the year, are really difficult to resist...this sounds like a wonderful recipe. I think your children were so very lucky to have a Mom who knew that learning and education were not just to be relegated to school books. What more perfect way to learn about nature and our wonderful world than to spend a day out enjoying a fall day? :-)

SteamyKitchen said...

What a great tradition you have! I love the idea of Fall Fun Day.

Melinda said...

I know just the answer to negate that low cal thing...serve with Devon clotted cream. Sounds very good.
I should do some toffee apples to use up all the apples I have been given. Good idea. Thanks, Teach.

Kelly-Jane said...

It's always a bonus if they aren't to calorific - and taste good too =)

Kate said...

pine nuts and pears sounds like a fantastic combination. I'd love to try this out. it looks delicious.

Nora B. said...

What a wonderful tradition you have with your kids - I'm sure that they will always remember Fall Fun Day.

This cake is certainly perfect for autumn. And it's good to know that it's not as buttery as most cakes. I would like to try making this cake (yogurt, pear & pine nuts - perfect!).

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Patricia - Isn't it great to have food memories for people? Candy corn always makes me think of my dad.

My Kitchen In Half Cups - I have lots of Cooking Light favorites, although I have given up using food substitutes. If God had meant cream cheese to be fat free, he would have given us skinny cows.

VeggieGirl- You have certainly been baking up a storm. I'm excited to see how your vegan version works.

Belinda - I think you should bake some cookies, take a walk, kick some leaves, and then have some hot cider. It really helps!

Steamy Kitchen - My kids enjoy fall, even if they can't spell it.

Melinda - Spot on! I must admit a chunk of homemade vanilla ice cream nestled next to a warm slice is nothing to sneeze at.

Kelly-Jane - I agree totally.

Kate - I love both pine nuts and pears and couldn't resist the combination.

Nora - I think the base would be fun to play with all kinds of flavor combinations.

katiez said...

I always thought of pears as fall food, too...until I moved hear and had pear trees. Now, I have learned they're somtimes summer food (July), sometimes late summer food (August) and, rarely, fall food (September). In other words: I know nothing! Except pick when ready and eat!
Love the cake - I'll keep the recipe for next year! (They're not even in the shops anymore here)

Big Boys Oven said...

Lovely pears for a lovely cake. Sounds like a good cake for the season!

eatme_delicious said...

Looks like a beautiful cake and the recipe seems so simple! (Which means I can easily make it even though I don't have a lot of time to bake!) I was surprised to see that pine nuts are one of the ingredients - how did that taste?

Cakespy said...

Wow! I consider myself a pro taster, but amateur I too am surprised by the pine nuts! I usually think of them as going more savory than sweet. But I'll bet it lended a nice contrast to the pear. I'm not even a 'pear' person usually, but they've tasted so good recently that I could totally go this way.

Amy said...

Aww Fall Fun Day sounds awesome! I will be doing that when I have kids. And this cake, oh my gosh pears and pine nuts. I love it!

Peabody said...

Hmmm, I am intruigued by the use of the pine nuts...will have to try that combo.

Kristen said...

This sounds like a great tradition. Fall is already heading out it seems... went by too quick!