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Would you like a piece of cake right now? For Goodness Cake is here for you. Every week, we'll be sharing recipes that prove why cake should be its own food group.
Today: Are you doing something that's making you unhappy? Stop it right now and make this cake instead.
More so now than at any other point in my life, I find myself thinking, "I'd rather be eating cake right now" multiple times a day.
Compare: Riding the subway at 7 AM (if it's a good day, the train might be in motion), elevated off the ground by a sea of bodies, my armpit smushed into my face, other peoples' armpits smushed into my face...to eating cake.
Compare: Trying to get "exercise" by making grotesque postures in a 105° F room, suffocated by 50 other people all dressed in spandex (this is called "hot yoga" in New York)...to eating cake.
Compare: Paying $4.50 for a not-so-good tomato and a microscopic sweet potato from the farmers market...to eating cake.
In no universe are any of these true hardships. Nonetheless, cake would make my day better. At these moments, I wouldn't rather be running or knitting or with Fred (don't you just love those bumper stickers?). No, I'd rather be eating cake. These are not hard choices. These are not hotly debated philosophical questions. Cake. Cake is the answer.
And this is the cake I'd choose. First, you make it in a food processor. You make it really easily in a food processor. Second, it's got two of the best cake ingredients: almond paste to make it incredibly rich, and cake flour to make it airy despite that. Third, it's transportable: My friend ate a slice, packed it in foil, shoved it in his backpack, biked across Central Park, and polished off the rest. You can keep it in your bag and shave off slivers when you're feeling sad (or maybe that's just me).
Importantly, it's easy to eat (use a spoon or a fork -- it's like scooping soft butter); nothing is going to fall from your utensil or drip embarrassingly down your face. The pear slices relax into the cake, offering pockets of mellower, stickier sweetness.
More: If you transport your cake in a cute little package, it's less weird to eat it on the subway.
On top of all that, this cake has a strong connection to Europe -- it was adapted from David Lebovitz's Almond Cake (in turn inspired by a recipe in Lindsey R. Share's Chez Panisse Desserts) and Mimi Thorisson's Italian Pear Cake -- with the height and the confidence to prove it. Close your eyes while you take a bite and you might conjure up an image of a Parisian café or an Italian trattoria. Just don't break the spell by inhaling New York City air.
So cut a big wedge and start eating -- it will be the easiest, least stressful thing you do all day.
Makes one 9-inch cake
2 to 3
very ripe pears (like D'Anjou)
1 cup cake flour, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups caster or superfine sugar
7 ounces almond paste
1 cup butter, at room temperature and cut into 1-tablespoon cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 large eggs, at room temperature
Confectioners sugar, for dusting
Photos by James Ransom