January has gone by in the blink of an eye. I'm not really one for resolutions, although I have been keeping my sink clean, acquiring less stuff, and making new friends. Not at all bad for the first month of the year.
Instead of embarking on a post-holiday cleansing, I baked and ate a lot of cakes and muffins this month. Not that I need one, but there was always a reason. Someone coming over to visit, bananas that needed to be used up, and well, my days are long and there's nothing better than a home baked snack. A lot of my baking was actually pretty healthy. I incorporated different flours like spelt and whole wheat, threw in ground flax seeds and oatmeal, substituting agave syrup for sugar, and enjoying every hastily taken bite.
I never knew about the world of food blogs until Roman was born. Suddenly with lots of quiet time in the first few months of his life, a whole world opened up to me on the internet and I began to discover the wealth of food stylists, bloggers and general food enthusiasts. One particular site I love is Cannelle et Vanille. Recently I tinkered with one of her recipes. Her baking is gluten free and I didn't have many of the specialty ingredients on hand, so I converted it to use regular flour. Whether you make her recipe or mine, these are steal-another-while-no-one's-looking tasty.
Pear, Hazelnut and Brown Butter Cakes
Adapted from Cannelle and Vanille
I actually forgot to add the maple syrup the first time I made these, and they came out fine. The real vanilla bean adds so much rich vanilla flavor-if you've never baked using real vanilla beans, you're in for a real treat. I recommend adding ground flax seeds- not just to make these healthier, but I really like the bit of texture they add to it.
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup flour
1/2 cup hazelnut flour (I ground roasted hazelnuts in a coffee grinder, careful- do this in batches so as not to make a nut butter)
1/4 cup ground flax seed (optional, but I highly recommend)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
2 pears grated (I didn't bother to peel them)
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Place the butter in a small saucepan and cook it until the milk solids start to brown on the bottom of the pan and it smells nutty. Strain and let it cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ground hazelnuts, flax seed, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla bean and eggs. Whisk in the cooled brown butter. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and whisk together. Fold in the grated pear.
Divide the batter in the mini bundt pan mold. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes in the pan. Remove the cakes from the pan and toss them in the cinnamon sugar.
Makes 1 dozen.
Storage tip: After the first day, I noticed that the cinnamon sugar soaked into the cakes and I had to re-coat them in the sugar mixture. Just one more reason to eat these quickly!