Friday, February 12, 2010

Maya*Made, Remade: My search has ended for a healthy cake.

Last fall, Maya*Made posted a recipe for her Grandmother's One Bowl Apple Cake. It is a supremely easy and delicious cake, not to mention lightening fast to prepare. Dorie Greenspan said of her Swedish Visiting Cake, a cake of similar ease in her Baking Book that "Her (Ingela Helgesson) mother used to claim that you could start making it when you saw guests coming up the road and have it ready by the time they were settling down for coffee." Peeling the apples is even optional. I made it immediately after reading about it using the bounty of fall apples. In fact, I made it many more times into late fall, each time lowering the 1 cup of sugar to to see how much I could lose without noticing.

Since it's pear season, I've been stocking up on them each time I go to the co-op. They take a few days to ripen, so every trip seems to replenish the ones that finally ripen to eat. For some reason, I remembered the Apple Cake, and figured to make a pear cake last week. I swapped out the white flour for whole wheat, and used a scant 1/2 c. of sugar, and used one Bosc and one Anjou pear. Delicious, yes, but in my quest to eliminate refined sugar completely, I had to make it again this morning using light agave syrup.

Last week's cake, under snowy powdered sugar dust...

One thing that endears this cake to me, besides being from a Grandmother, is that it is baked in an 8 inch cake tin. Something about an 8 inch tin reminds me of the 1950's that I didn't experience firsthand. Portion sizes were in check, martinis were an acceptable 3 fluid oz., and desserts were pleasantly simple and not the size of a basketball. This cake remains moist and keeps well, though not for a whole week, since it was gone in 5 days.

This morning, I was cakeless and Boy-O slept in, so my feet hit the floor and I rushed off to preheat the oven. By the time the preheat is over, you can be ready to pop this cake in the oven.

One Bowl Pear Cake (adapted from Maya*Made's Grandmother)
  • 2 c. diced pears (I don't measure, the amount is very forgiving. I don't peel either!)
  • 1/4 c. agave syrup, light or dark
  • 1/4 vegetable oil (I used grapeseed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. Kosher salt
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour, or use baking spray, to coat an 8 inch cake tin.

Place diced pears and agave syrup in a large bowl, and stir to combine.

(Now, you can do this in one bowl, but I do it this way:) Measure oil in a one cup measure and crack the egg over it. Beat it lightly, then add to the pears and stir.

Add dry ingredients and stir to combine (again, I do sift them into another bowl, and then add). Mix until just combined, and stir in walnuts. Try not to over mix. The batter is very thick.

Empty the batter into a 8 inch cake tin, and spread with a spatula to even out. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. (Mine took only 30 minutes to bake.) Let it cool in the tin on a rack for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

So there you have it! A cake that tastes as good as it is for you. After it cools, you can sprinkle confectioner's sugar over the top, but if you let it sit, it will disappear in the moistness. I didn't even feel bad trying a piece mid-morning with my coffee. You can imagine my excitement as I will try to incorporate other ingredients into this basic method... the near future will have a date and coconut trial reminiscent of those delicious Date Biscuits from innBrooklyn.

Maya*Made is famous for her remade creations, proudly reusing common household finds to brighten the lives of her readers and everyone who knows her. I'm sure she would be proud that she inspired me to remake her Grandmother's recipe, and I'm thankful she posted the inspiration! You can find more inspiration from Maya*Made on her blog, or purchase a piece of her usable art in her Etsy shop. One of my favorite things about blogging is finding family recipes from other families. It gives an immediate glimpse into a day in the life of someone else, and somehow makes a little connection to a complete stranger. I know this recipe is going to stick around in my family for a very long time.


  1. Gorgeous! I can't wait to try it myself. Thanks for the great post!

  2. Pears have been downright lovely this year, and I don't think we've consumed half as many of them as we ought. This cake looks like the perfect application. of course, I'd be tempted to ruin all that "good for you"-ness by drizzling it with a bit of caramel syrup :)

  3. OOh. That looks delicious. I can't believe it's so healthy. I love the use of seasonal fruits. Lovely!


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