This time of year the empty jars start piling up, and the full jars start to disappear. The jar management game, if you’re a canner, begins. I might be a little early this year. I tend to be somewhat of a hoarder, which means that by the time asparagus and rhubarb starting producing in the garden, I’m still using up pantry items. This year I want to have a clean slate by that time. And to defrost the freezer! Big plans over here. This cake was a success on all fronts, even though it’s name sounds dull. Not only was it delicious, but it used up almost two jars of pantry goods. And it’s a healthy breakfast cake to boot. Success!
Success feels good. Of course, I don’t post failures, but don’t be fooled, they are legion. I’m never truly bothered by a kitchen fail. It’s disappointing, sure (especially when I think something is going to turn out great and spectacularly fails), but it never deters me from forging ahead. I’m so matter of fact about the failures: huh, that didn’t work. Guess I’ll try this. I wish I could be that forgiving with the rest of my life. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately after reading this article on Brain Pickings about fixed and growth mindsets; in particular I liked the quote about how growth mindsets instill “a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval.” People with a fixed mindset, on the other hand, “see risk and effort as potential giveaways of their inadequacies, revealing that they come up short in some way.” My cooking life definitely has a growth mindset. The rest of me? Not so much. I think my personal life could learn a lot from my cooking life–the biggest lesson being: keep going in the face of failures (big plural!).
The success of this recipe is that it’s adapted one of my favorite recipes from The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book, a simple one for banana bread. My spin is that I’ve used some pears canned in light syrup, and a pear jam. I also like date molasses (try it!) for this, but maple syrup or honey would both be fine. Keep in mind the honey will be sweeter, so maybe use 1/4 cup, and maple perhaps 1/2 cup? It also depends on how sweet your jam and pears are, so adjust for that.
Canned Pear Cake
Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8×8 pan.
2 cups canned pears (this can be pear sauce, or canned pear halves that have been mashed)
3 tablespoons of oil or melted butter
1/3 cup of date molasses (or 1/4 cup of honey; 1/2 cup maple syrup–see note above on sweeteners)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pear jam (mine was a chunky style with no embellishments)
1 tablespoon of sugar for topping (optional)
Mix the first five ingredients well. Whisk the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Mix them together. Smooth in prepared pan. Spread the top with jam, and sprinkle with sugar for a little crispness, and bake for about 40 minutes. Look for the sides to be golden, and the very tips of the jam beginning to brown a little. You can also check with a toothpick inserted coming out clean.
Even a few days out, this is still good. I put a slice of cold butter on a untoasted piece of this, and it was heavenly.