Pear Dulce de Leche Cake Recipe

Tender Pear Cake filled and frosted with a caramel-like Dulce de Leche Buttercream and bits of oat crumble.

Pear cake with dulce de leche buttercream recipe

Canadian Thanksgiving was over a month ago, but that can't seem to keep my overwhelming feelings of thanks and gratitude away.  As the holidays approach, the days grow darker, and the rainy weather keeps us huddled together inside, I can't help but reflect on lucky I am to be surrounded by love, family, and lots of baked goods.  So when our family friend and editor-in-cheif of Risen Magazine asked if I'd share my story, I didn't hesitate to agree.

In the "Expressions" section of the latest issue, you will find my full creative journey.  From ballet lessons to baby bottles, I discuss my motivations for starting my own cake business to trying to do it all as a working mom to ultimately leaning on a bit of faith that these big, life-changing decisions I've made along the way were the right ones for our little family.  Cake design has been my major creative outlet over the past decade, my way of expressing my fears, doubts, joys, and triumphs.  Worry blocks creativity, so I've been trying my best to be more patient, a little less controlling, and to embrace the imperfections in life.  

Pear cake with dulce de leche buttercream recipe

This Pear Cake is slightly adapted from my book Layered.  The shredded pears nearly melt into the cake and keep it incredibly soft and tender. Adding Dulce de Leche to homemade buttercream is so luxurious.  Similar to caramel, the dulce de leche adds a deeper, not-as-sweet creaminess to the frosting.  Making dulce de leche from a can of sweetened condensed milk is super simple, but you may also try a store-bought variety.  

For an additional layer of texture, I added an Oat Crumble in the middle.  The cake is so moist and the buttercream so silky, I really feel like this cake benefits from a bit of crunch.  The oat crumble recipe will certainly make more than you need, so sprinkle leftovers over yogurt or roasted fruit!

Tessa Huff and family

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Pear Dulce de Leche Cake Recipe

For the cake:
2 ½ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cardamom (optional)
3 medium pears, such as Bartlett
½ cup vegetable or canola oil
 ¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
½ cup buttermilk

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and cardamom (if using) and set aside.  Peal the pears and shred the pears (a box grater works great here) and place in a mesh sieve (or a few paper towels) over a bowl to drain.  If they are extra juicy, press down gently with a rubber spatula to release some of the excess liquid (or gently bundle them up and squeeze the paper towels).  Set aside.

Using an eclectic mixer, beat together the oil and sugar until combined.  Add in the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Add in half of the flour mixture and mix on low until combined.  Slowly stream in the buttermilk until incorporated.  Add in the remaining flour and mix until mostly combined.  Stop the mixer and fold in the drained shredded pears

Evenly divide the batter between the two pans and bake in the pre-heated oven for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.  Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.

 

For the buttercream:
2/3 cup prepared or store-bought Dulce de Leche (recipe to follow)
Small batch Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Mix the buttercream until silky smooth.  Add in the Dulce de Leche and mix until fully combined.

 

For the oat crumble (optional):
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and softened
½ cup rolled oats

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

Place all of the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.  Stir together with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the mixture forms small clumps of what looks like “wet sand.”  Dump the contents on a lined baking sheet and spread out.  Bake for 8 to 12 minutes (stirring halfway) until the crumble starts to crisp and turn slightly golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack then break up into small pieces (if the pieces are left large, then the cake will be difficult to slice).

 

For the Dulce de Leche:
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Place an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a slow-cooker.  Fill with enough water to full submerge the can.  Turn the slow-cooker to “low” and cook for 8 hours.  Very carefully remove the can from the hot water and let it cool at room temperature.  Open the can and store the Dulce de Leche in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. 


Assembly:
Place a cooled cake on a cake board or serving dish.  Spread on about 1 cup of buttercream with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle on a generous amount of oat crumble and top with the second layer of cake.  Frost the cake with the buttercream and decorate as desired.

For the boarder, fill a piping bag fitted with a petal tip (Wilton #104), and pipe interlocking "V's" around the top and bottom edges of the cake. Keep the narrow end of the tip facing up as you pipe.

 

Source: https://www.stylesweetca.com

Overnight Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls with Orange-Vanilla Bean Glaze

Start these eggnog and nutmeg-spiced cinnamon rolls with toasted pecan filling the night before and add the orange-vanilla bean glaze just in time for Christmas brunch!

Over-night Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Vanilla Glaze

I was 9 months pregnant the first time I hosted Christmas morning.  Admittedly, I wasn't thinking too clearly or logically by that point, and I decided to make homemade bagels from scratch for the first time. I wasn't very comfortable with yeasted doughs at the time, but I insisted on teaching myself one last new skills before Everett was born.  I ended up stressing entirely way too much over those lumpy rings of dough that some-what a bagel and haven't made them since...

Over the last few years, I've become a much more well versed in yeast-risen baked goods.  After experimenting with recipes like Lemon Brioche Pull-Apart Bread and Date Bourbon Buns, I better understand the simplicity of working with yeast and just how amazing homemade breakfast pastries taste still warm out of the oven.  Bonus points if you get to eat them still in your matching Chirstmas pj's.

One thing in particular that I've truly embraced with these types of recipes is the timing.  Want warm, gooey, sticky Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls come Christmas morning without having to wake up at 3am?  Start the dough the night before and make time on you side instead of impatiently waiting between rises. By placing the dough in the refrigerator to rise, you are essentially hitting “pause” in the process.  The cool temps in the fridge dramatically slow down the yeast, so the dough continues to rise but at a much slower pace.  Instead of scheduling 1 to 2 hours between steps, you can pop the dough into the refrigerator for 8 hours (or overnight) and continue on with your day/night, whether that be Christmas Eve or any other time of the year.

Over-night Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Vanilla Glaze
Over-night Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Vanilla Glaze
Over-night Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Vanilla Glaze
Over-night Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Vanilla Glaze

These Overnight Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls bake up beautifully in a French oven or cast iron skillet.  I find that they distribute heat very evenly and efficiently, creating perfectly risen buns with toasted edges and gooey centers. The puffy, pillowy dough is similar to a brioche dough and is loaded with lots of butter.  I've used eggnog as my liquid here, but you may use any type of milk in its place.  The eggnog flavors are quite subtle, so I like to add a pinch of nutmeg into the dough as well.  For a bit of crunch and texture, toasted pecans have been chopped and added to the cinnamon roll filling.

This cream cheese glaze has been my go-to accessory lately (you'll see it again on a couple more cake recipes coming up soon), so I decided to change it up by adding fresh orange juice, zest, and vanilla bean.  The bright yet subtle citrus notes pair perfectly with the nutmeg and cinnamon and nearly everything is better with a little vanilla bean.  Perfect along side a warm cup coffee and lots of Christmas cheer.

Over-night Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Vanilla Glaze

Overnight Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls

1/2 cup eggnog or milk of choice
1 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
2 3/4 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
heavy pinch nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft

Pecan Cinnamon Roll Filling 

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
 

The night before: Warm the eggnog to between 100 to 110°F.  It should be warm to the touch.  Stir in the yeast and set aside for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, sugar, salt, and nutmeg into a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.

Whisk together the eggs and egg yolk, then stir them into the eggnog mixture. Pour the eggnog mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Knead the dough by hand or with a mixer fitted with a dough hook on low speed for about 4 to 5 minutes. Once the dough begins to come together, add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, while the dough is being kneaded. Try to add as little flour as possible. When done, the dough should be soft but not sticky.

Place the dough in an oiled mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to rise overnight.
 

In the morning:Remove the dough from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature (I place it near a heater for about 20 minutes). Remove the butter for the filling and allow to soften.

Once the dough is soft enough to roll, lightly dust your work surface with a little bit of flour and roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 16 X 12-inches.

Spread the softened butter of the filling all over the surface of the dough, leaving about a half-inch boarder around the edges. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar and pat it into the butter. Repeat with the chopped pecans, if using.

Starting at the long edge of the rectangle, carefully roll up the dough into a long log. Slide a piece of dental floss under the log until about halfway up, pull up on the strings, cross them, and pull to cut the dough in half. Continue to cut the log into 8 to 10 even pieces. If the dental floss is tricky, use a serrated knife.

Generously butter the inside of a French oven, iron skillet, or baking dish and line the bottom with parchment paper. Place the cut cinnamon rolls, cut-side up, in the bottom – leaving about a half-inch space in-between rolls. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to double in size – about 3o to 45 minutes in a warm room.

Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Remove the kitchen towel and bake the cinnamon rolls for about 25 to 35 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges. Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes as you prepare the glaze (recipe to follow). Frost and serve the cinnamon rolls while they are still warm.

Leftovers will keep covered in plastic wrap at room temperature overnight.


Orange-Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Glaze

4 ounce cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
zest of 1/2 an orange
pinch cinnamon

In a mixing bowl, stir together the cream cheese and butter until well smooth.

Gradually stir in the confectioner’s sugar and mix until incorporated.

Add in the orange juice, zest, vanilla bean paste, and cinnamon.  Stir until smooth.  Glaze should be rather thick yet spreadable.

 

Thank you to Le Creuset Canada for their participation in this post. Words and opinions are my own. 

Pumpkin Pie Layer Cake

Pumpkin Pie Layer Cake made with brown sugar PUMPKIN CAKE with nutty brown butter and graham cracker buttercream - perfect for any autumn gathering or Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Pie Layer Cake Recipe

It's not uncommon for anyone working in the food publishing business to bake and create dishes totally out of season.  As food bloggers, we agree to making Christmas cookies in July, storing seasonal rhubarb and cranberries in the freezer just in case, and sourcing holiday decor to fit our needs.  Content that goes to print needs to be created months in advanced and even copy for online publications or sponsored posts needs to be approved weeks prior to going live. So when I actually get to bake a recipe that mirrors the season we are in, I get pretty excited.

Pumpkin Pie Layer Cake Recipe

Well, technically, I made this cake just for fun.  This is not sponsored nor part of any other project, so I suppose I could have made it at any time I wanted.  But my house is usually filled to the brim with cakes and recipes for different assignments that I don't really bake for "fun" at the moment...

Canadian Thanksgiving was a few weeks ago, and this Pumpkin Pie Layer Cake was the star of our dessert table.  I knew that I would already be trying to pawn off leftover dessert recipes from that week's testing to my fiends and family.  Sure all the desserts would taste good, but I wanted something that wasn't already sliced into or had sat around while I took photos and such in the days prior to our gathering...

Okay, so I did snap some pics of it sliced, as you can see, but you know what I mean, right?  Anyways, this Pumpkin Pie Layer Cake recipe is adapted from my first cookbook Layered.  I absolutely love this recipe and figured Canadian Thanksgiving would be the perfect occasion to recreate it.  And since Canadian Thanksgiving is at the beginning of fall and over a month before American Thanksgiving, I knew it would be the perfect cake to share with you all today as we head into peak pumpkin season!

Pumpkin Pie Layer Cake Recipe
Pumpkin Pie Layer Cake Recipe
Pumpkin Pie Layer Cake Recipe

It doesn't take much to get anyone excited about pumpkin cake.  You know any good pumpkin cake recipe will be moist, tender, and full of warming, fall spices.  This version is no exception.  I used brown sugar to add depth (trust me, it really makes a difference!) and my ration of spices (although a couple teaspoons of pumpkin spice blend would also work).

Like I always do, I had to change up the recipe from the original version (even when I wrote the original, lol).  I combined the brown butter filling and graham cracker buttercream into one!  The brown butter adds a beautiful caramel flavor to the buttercream and the graham cracker crumbs contribute texture to the otherwise tender cake and silky frosting.  As mentioned in my notes, the texture improves the second day as the crumbs soften up a bit and the pumpkin cake will stay moist and fresh for several days, so feel free to make in advanced.

Not only did my family get to enjoy this cake a couple weeks ago, this recipe is my contribution to this year's Virtual Pumpkin Party!  Now you all can make and enjoy it too!  Yay!!  What is a virtual pumpkin party you ask?  It's when a bunch of us bloggers share our favorite pumpkin recipes each year.  Or as Sara more elegantly puts it "An annual explosion and celebration of pumpkin recipes that are delivered to the internet by food bloggers from around the world on a single day in October."

Last year, I contributed this Pumpkin Creme Brûlée Cake and this Checkerboard Pumpkin Stout Cake the year before.  Be sure to head on over and check out all of this year's deliciously fall recipes!

Pumpkin Pie Layer Cake Recipe

Pumpkin Pie Layer Cake Recipe
adapted from Layered

Brown Sugar Pumpkin Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup grapeseed oil
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans and set aside. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the oil, brown sugar and granulated sugar for about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low, add in the eggs, one at a time.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

With the mixer on low, add in the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing well in between. Just as the last streaks of flour begin to disappear, stop the mixer. Add in the pumpkin and mix until combined.

Evenly distribute the batter between the two pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans. Once cool, carefully slice each cake in half horizontally with a serrated knife to create four even layers.

Brown Butter Graham Frosting
3 cups unsalted butter, divided
6 large egg whites
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 to 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
pinch cinnamon to taste

Place 1 ½ cups of butter in a light-colored medium saucepan. Over medium-low heat, melt then brown the butter. Turn the heat to medium-high and brown the butter, about 8 minutes. Stir the butter to keep the milk solids from sticking and burning to the bottom of the pan. When done, the butter will be very fragrant and nutty, light-medium amber in color, with dark brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Strain the browned butter with a mesh sieve into a heat-safe container and chill in the refrigerator until it reaches the same consistency as room temperature butter.

Bring the remaining 1 ½ cups butter to room temperature. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Gently whisk them by hand to combine. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan with create a double-boiler. Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it reaches 160°F (70°C) on a candy thermometer. Carefully fit the mixer bowl back onto the stand mixer.

With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, the mixture holds medium-stiff peaks and the outside of the bowl returns to room temperature.

Turn the mixer down to low and add in the vanilla, unsalted butter, and browned butter, a couple tablespoons at a time. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.

Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat until the buttercream is silky smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon. Mix until combined.

Assembly
pre-made pie crust
sweetened whipped cream

Place one layer of cake on a cake board or serves dish. Spread on about 1 cup of buttercream and smooth with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat with remaining layers. Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream.

To decorate, pipe dollops of whipped cream and finish with a pie crust cut-out.  Serve at room temperature.

NOTES
I found that the texture of the graham crackers in the buttercream improve after about a day or so.  Store in the refrigerator overnight and let stand at room temperature about an hour before serving.

For the pie crust cut-outs, simply bake about 375 until puffed and golden (about 8 to 12 minutes). Sprinkle on some cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg before baking.

Since the amount of whipped cream is so small, I just whisked by hand.  A great arm work-out before eating cake!!  Sweeten with a few tablespoons of sugar per cup of cream, or to taste.  Whisk until medium-stiff peaks.

 

Boozy Birthday Cupcakes

It's not my birthday nor is it the birthday of anyone I know, or even close to it.  But I bet it could one yours, dear fabulous readers.  And for that, I made you Boozy Birthday Cupcakes!

Boozy Birthday Cupcakes

Actually, I'm lying.  I made these for Brett's birthday back in August, but only now have I found the time to write about them.  We were out of town on his actual birthday, so I brought these cuties to his office a couple weeks after we got home to help celebrate.

I love making over-the-top birthday cakes for my husband Brett each year – like this Funfetti Oreo Cake or this Peanut Butter Donut Drip Cake.  However, I must confess that sometimes I use the opportunity to just make something I personally wanted to test out.  This year, it was kind of a mash-up of some of his favourites and a new recipe I was dying to try.  You guys – Marshmallow Buttercream!!!

Boozy Birthday Cupcakes
Boozy Birthday Cupcakes

This Marshmallow Buttercream was truly like nothing I've ever made before.  It acts like a meringue-based buttercream (like Swiss or Italian meringue), but guess what....No egg whites!  This mystical marshmallow concoction comes from the pastry wiz, Stella Parks.  I've been following Stella's blog, Bravetart, well before I even had a blog myself!  Not only is Stella the mastermind behind the deliciousness AND baking science on Serious Eats, she was also named "one of America’s Best New Pastry Chefs" by Food & Wine.  Let me tell you – she really knows her stuff.  So when I found a recipe for a fluffy, cloud-like buttercream without eggs whites in her new cookbook, I just had to try it!!!

Boozy Birthday Cupcakes
Boozy Birthday Cupcakes
Boozy Birthday Cupcakes

Stable, rich, fluffy, not-to-sweet, and totally dreamy – this Marshmallow Buttercream is definitely a game changer.  If you've been following this blog for a while, then you know how much I love Swiss meringue buttercream.  I love it for its silky, smooth qualities and how it glides over layer cakes so effortlessly.  I've come around to using whipped American buttercream from time to time (I used to hate it) because of its convenience and lack of egg whites.  But a buttercream that's not super sweet like American buttercream that doesn't require a ton of egg whites?  Count me in!!

This recipe starts with a basic homemade marshmallow recipe.  I'll admit, it is a bit time consuming and you still have to boil sugar (I promise it's not as scary as it sounds).  But guys, it's totally worth it!  I added a big glug of bourbon and just enough pure vanilla to make these a bit boozy and 100% fun.  

Be sure to pick up a copy of Stella's new book for the full recipe!!

My Favorite Devil’s Food Cupcake Recipe
4 ounces dark chocolate (about 70%), chopped
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ¼ cup boing water
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant espresso
1 cup unsalted butter, very soft – slightly melty
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
3 large eggs
½ cup milk 

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cupcake pan and set aside.

2. Combine the chopped chocolate, cocoa powder, and boiling water together.  Stir to combine and set aside.

3. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.

4. Using an electric mixer, combine the super soft butter with the sugars.  Mix for a couple minutes until thoroughly combined.

5. Add the vanilla, almond, and eggs – one at a time, making sure each in incorporated before adding in the next.  Stop mixing and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

6. With the mixer on low, stream in the chocolate mixture until combined.

7. Slowly add in half of the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Stream in the milk.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

8. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until combined.

9. Evenly divide the batter into the cupcake pans and bake until done, about 22 to 24 minutes.

10.  Let cool on a cooling rack before frosting.

 

Boozy Meringue Buttercream
½ cup (120 ml) egg whites (from about 3 to 4 large eggs)
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks – 340 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
1/4 bourbon, or to taste
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (optional)

1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, add the egg whites and granulated sugar.  Whisk them together briefly by hand, just until they are combined so that the egg whites don’t begin cooking by themselves.

2. Fill a sauce pan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer.  Place the mixer bowl with the egg white mixture on top to create a double-boiler. The water should be kept at a simmer but should not touch the bottom of the bowl.  The double-boiler acts as indirect heat for the egg white mixture. 

 3. Occasionally stirring, heat the egg white mixture until it reaches 155 to 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer.  The mixture should be very hot to the touch and the sugar should have dissolved. 

 4. Once the egg white mixture is hot, carefully return the bowl to the stand mixer.  Fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on high speed for about 8 minutes.  When done, the meringue should hold shiny, medium-stiff peaks and be cooled to room temperature.  Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.

5. With the mixer on low, begin adding in the butter a couple tablespoons at a time.  Use the paddle attachment to mix it in.  The butter must be room temperature in order to incorporate properly with the meringue.  Mix until combined.

6. Once the butter has been mixed in, add the bourbon, vanilla bean seeds (if using) and the vanilla extract.

7. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until silky smooth.  This may take a few minutes, but keep mixing until light, creamy, and free from most air bubbles.