Celebrating the Season

I know when fall is here, pumpkin-spice … everything is all the rage. But, if you ask me, there's a better flavor combination to look forward to when the leaves fall: ginger-pear. So, in the spirit of gratitude that tends to permeate this time of year, I want to share one of my favorite baked goods that showcases these flavors:

One of the things I love most about this treat is that it works well just about anywhere. I've had a slice with coffee in the morning, a bit after a light lunch, some with tea in the afternoon, and alongside a scoop of ice cream after a hearty dinner of beef stew and crunchy bread. It's always right at home and just what I wanted in that moment. It's good to have recipes like these. They are simple, unassuming, and perfect just about any time of the day.

If you wanted to have even more ginger flavor in your cake, add about a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger to the batter at the same time you add the vanilla extract. I've made it both ways and my family hasn't decided which version is better. The heavy use of brown sugar in the batter and the topping gives the final result a slightly caramel-like flavor that feels a bit like a warm hug on a cold day. 'Tis the season!

Ginger-Pear Crumb Cake

For the cake:
  • 2-3 pears, cored and chopped (about 1 pound)
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 c. butter
  • 1/3 c. canola oil
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
For the topping:
  • 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. canola oil
  • 2 T. chopped crystallized ginger

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Spray a 9-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Core and chop the pears and toss them with the ground ginger. Set aside.

Sift together the cup of all-purpose flour and the baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, canola oil, and brown sugar together until a pale, fluffy mixture forms. Add the extract and eggs (one at a time/beat after each addition). Carefully add about half of the flour mixture to the bowl and gently incorporate it into the batter. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture. Turn the batter into the prepared baking pan and, using a spatula, spread it evenly in the pan.

Mix the topping ingredients together to form a coarse crumb mixture. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the batter in the pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until the crumb topping appears golden and crunchy and the cake releases a clean toothpick when tested.

  • Yields: 24 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour

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