If there really is such a thing as the transmigration of the soul, I’d like to ‘put in’ now, if I may, for the soul of a musician. Anything really, pianist, saxophonist, vocalist. Blues, opera, early 13th century. It’s all good, as they say.
In this incarnation, mine is not a ‘good ear’, for music or otherwise.
Maybe that’s why my thoughts about food tend to play with musical allusions. A blind person’s other four senses are sharpened by the lack of sight.
And so, perhaps, I taste music. And see music.
These images ‘sang’ to me the other day….I’d love to know if you hear them too…..
By the way, there actually is a piece of music entitled “On the Transmigration of Souls” written by the American composer John Adams (for which he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize).
If food be the music, then this cake is a symphony, a concert of tastes. Performing instruments: nutmeg, pear, vanilla, honey, and lemon. Low-key by nature, the pear takes center-stage here and is well supported by its counterparts. The results are completely harmonious and one piece will have you on your feet, begging for more.
Well, that’s my not-so-humble critic’s review. I developed this recipe over a number of sessions. And I consider this to be the best version. Two things: 1) it requires that you make ‘pear sauce’. That’s not difficult, but it is an extra step. Sure, you can substitute apple sauce, but it won’t be nearly as good. And, 2) it’s made with 100 percent whole wheat flour. That might put some folks off. Personally, over time, I’ve lost my taste for white flour products. But what you should know, if you’re squeamish, is that there is a trick to baking with whole wheat flour. It is this: sift 3 to 4 times before measuring. It aerates the flour and gives lighter results. Andiamo!…….
Recipe: Nutmeg Pear Cake
1 and 2/3 cups whole wheat flour, sifted before measuring
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 c honey
1/3 cup oil, I use grapeseed
1 cup pear sauce, see below
1 and 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
grated rind of 1/2 lemon
2 large ripe pears, thinly sliced
Brown sugar, to crumble on top
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat together the eggs and brown sugar. If there are any lumps, work them out with the back of a spoon. Beat in the honey, oil, pear sauce, vanilla, and lemon rind, until well combined. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined; do not over-mix. Grease and flour a tube pan and pour batter in. (Though I haven’t tried it, probably a springform or even a 9×13 pan would work.)
Thinly slice the pears and insert vertically into the batter. Possibly there will be a few slices left over.
Crumble brown sugar on top.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick shows no wetness.
It is best eaten a little warm. If to be used much later, re-heat for a bit in a toaster oven.
Delicious with black coffee.
Recipe: Pear Sauce
3 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c water
Place all ingredients in saucepan, cover, and bring to a near-boil.
Lower heat and simmer for a good 20 min. Purée or mash with a fork.
Cool to room temp. before using.
Makes at least a cup.