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