A riff on the legendary Roman Apple cake from the 1953 Joy of Cooking. The pears can be replaced with apples, but avoid the temptation to omit the fenugreek. The spice's sweet caramel notes are a perfect pair to the spicy cinnamon.
Simple grapefruit cake: Two days prior, completely zest a grapefruit using the smaller holes of a lemon zester tool (the kind that produces long strings of zest). Distribute 1 cup of sugar over the bottom of a lidded container, scatter the zest over it, then cover with another cup of sugar. Leave with the lid ajar for two days, shaking occasionally to break up clumps.
When making the recipe, replace the fresh fruit with half of the zest and the white sugar with grapefruit sugar. Omit the last scattered teaspoon of brown sugar, but increase the salt in the batter to 1/2 teaspoon. —Corby
1 9" cake
all purpose flour
brown sugar plus 1 scant teaspoon
cold butter, cubed
buttermilk OR whole milk mixed with 4 TBSP creme fraiche
Preheat oven to 325 and prepare a 9' springform pan
Sift the flours, then combine with sugars, salt, spices and butter cubes. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until dry and crumbly. Reserve 1/3 of the mixture.
Peel and thinly slice the pear. Combine the baking soda with the larger portion of the crumble, then add the egg and milk and creme fraiche mixture.
Pour 1/2 the batter into the pan and scatter the pears over the top, scatter the last teaspoon of brown sugar, then pour the remaining batter over them. Top with the remaining crumble and bake for an hour, checking at 50 minutes. Baking time may vary with the juciness of the pear.