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Pears are a rather underutilized fruit in baking. Who ever thinks to make pear pie? Or pear muffins? Yet they're as versatile as apples to bake with, and in fact can be used in any recipe calling for apples. They have a strong, distinctive, yet subtle flavor, which teams particularly well with both ginger and vanilla, as well as a variety of spirits -- rum, pear liqueur (naturally) and brandy.
3/4 cup (3 1/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) ground hazelnuts
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon lemon oil or 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg yolk
2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup (4 ounces) heavy or whipping cream
1/2 cup (4 ounces) milk
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) rum
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
4 or 5 pears (about 1 1/4 pounds)
Crust: In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cloves and cinnamon. Stir in the hazelnuts and sugar.
Add the vanilla, lemon oil or peel, the butter and the egg yolk. Blend until the dough is smooth. Form the dough into a flattened ball and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to soften for half an hour. Press the dough into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. Bake it in a preheated 450°F oven for 18 minutes, or until bubbly and brown around the edges.
Remove the crust from the oven and allow it to cool before filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
Filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and yolk. Add the cream, milk, rum and sugar, stirring just to combine; you don't want the mixture to become frothy.
Peel, halve, and core the pears. Slice each in half longitudinally, so that they retain their pear shape. Place the pear halves atop the cooled crust, stem-ends pointing towards the center.
Pour the custard over the pears. Bake the cake in a preheated 325°F oven for 40 minutes, or until set. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes before serving. Yield: 16 servings.
Nutrition information per serving (1/16 of cake, 106g): 239 cal, 13g fat, 3g protein, 12g complex carbohydrates, 14g sugar, 2g dietary fiber, 1g alcohol, 96mg cholesterol, 79mg sodium, 116mg potassium, 2mg vitamin C, 1mg iron, 47mg calcium, 60mg phosphorus.