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Applesauce cake gets updated with roasted pear sauce and a brown butter glaze.
Spiced and fruit-filled cakes like this one are perfect fall and winter fare because they are easy to make, they warm up your house, and they make your kitchen smell totally delicious. They also make a great breakfast, but that goes for pretty much all cakes…
This bundt gets its roots from a traditional applesauce cake, but I have made a few crucial swaps to liven things up a bit. Rather than store-bought applesauce, the base here is pears that are simply roasted with a tiny bit of sugar and lemon juice, then just barely smashed so that there are still visible bits of pear in the cake batter.
The cake bakes up dark and rich with a slightly crunchy exterior that is beautiful when dusted with a bit of powdered sugar, but if you want to take things one step further, top it off with a generous pour of browned butter glaze. The glaze is totally optional, but I think bundts always look best with a bit of frosting on top. Don't you?
Oh, and if you went overboard at the apple orchard last weekend, you could totally swap apples for the pears here—just don’t forget to roast them!
For the cake:
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Juice from 1 lemon
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons cardamom
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup crème fraîche
For the browned butter glaze (optional):
tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 pinch salt
2 to 4 tablespoons milk, for brushing
Preheat oven to 375º F. Peel, core, and chop the pears into 1-inch pieces. Transfer the pears to a baking dish and toss them with the water, granulated sugar, and lemon juice. Cover the dish with foil and bake the pears until they are soft and cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove the foil from the dish and let the pears cool to room temperature, then mash them with a potato masher. Leave some larger bits of pear in the sauce. Measure out 2 cups of pear sauce and set aside. Save the rest for breakfast.
Turn the oven down to 350º F and butter and flour a bundt pan.
Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices together in a bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter, oil, and brown sugar together until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds in between each.
Add the crème fraîche and pear sauce and stir to combine. Fold in the flour mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap the pan on the counter to release any air. Bake the cake until golden and cooked through, 55 to 65 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a rack to cool completely. Let cool before glazing, if desired.
For the glaze, place the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and let it melt completely. It will begin bubbling. Continue to cook the butter until it begins to smell nutty and darkens in color. Remove the butter from the heat and transfer it to a large bowl. Let cool slightly.
Whisk in the confectioners' sugar and a pinch of salt followed by enough milk to make a smooth, pourable glaze. If the glaze breaks or curdles, add a bit of warm water to help it re-emulsify. Pour the glaze over the cooled bundt and let harden slightly before slicing
Photos by Yossy Arefi