Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cranberry-Pear Cake Bars

Sometimes you can predict how good a recipe is just by taking a look at the list of ingredients. 
This recipe, for Cranberry Pear Cake Bars, that I make in December, is case in point.
Just check out some of the ingredients included in the recipe:

butter –always a good sign
cinnamon- festive
light brown sugar- makes everything better
       grated orange zest- zest always adds a zing
 a lovely fruit that melts when it is baked 
fresh cranberries - colorful and tangy

Yum, Yum and Yum. 

In my opinion, complex baking techniques are not the sign of a quality recipe.  Rather, the list of ingredients is the key.

I am a huge fan of the cranberry/pear combination...and I love cranberry/orange too. So to put them all together is a lovely trio!  [It's similar in tartness/sweetness/mellowness/color of my favorite summer combination of blueberry/peach.]

This Cranberry-Pear Cake recipe is another one of my favorites from Everyday Foods from several years ago.   Not knowing what the texture or flavor would end up being, I made it because the list of ingredients looked so delicious.  It was love at first bite.  

It is moist, sticky, and kind of like coffee-cake. It is made in a 9 X 13 and isn't frosted.  It's not that beautiful, except for the pop of those red cranberries, but it is comforting.  I took it a few years ago to the Hunt house for Christmas, thinking it would travel well.  It did and was gobbled up. 

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

2 cups flour

1 tsp. soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

1 3/4 cups packed light-brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 Tbsp. finely grated orange zest

2 firm pears, peeled, halved, cored, and diced
8 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries

1/2 cup walnut pieces, optional

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9 x 13″ pan lightly with cooking spray.  Then line with parchment paper. 

In a medium bowl, combine flour, soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and zest until smooth. Add flour mixture; mix just until moistened (do not overmix). 

Fold in pears, cranberries, and walnuts.

the batter is thick and chunky 
      Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Cool completely in pan set on a rack. If using parchment, pull the   overhang out to easily cut.  

It's tasty topped with whipped cream, or with a side of vanilla ice cream.  It's great warm, cold, even for breakfast (I mean, it's basically fruit, right?). 

right out of the oven

Christmas on a plate

I've been baking a lot this month and have many things I want to post, but decided on this because not only is it one of my perennial holiday favorites, but it is a recipe I somehow lose every year!  When I couldn't find it last week, and couldn't locate it on Everyday Food's Website, I had to email my friend, Melissa to get the recipe.  (She also makes this cake and is a regular user of Everyday Food recipes.)  I think I misplace it because it is seasonal and because it is an awkward sized, loose recipe in my life.  I figured if I write about it here, I will remember where I put it!  

I am a fan of these magazines, and recipes from magazines in general, but I have a hard time figuring out a great system for storing them.

What are we to do with recipes from magazines?
I have tried many methods of cataloguing them:

*pasting the clippings in Sketchbooks
*3-hole punching the pages and putting them in a binder

*putting them in plastic sleeves in a binder

*just keeping the magazine in tact, if it's a cooking magazine

*and piling them in a massive stack – which is currently overflowing in baskets under my desk, and the recipes haven't been used, or even looked at for over a year.  (Clearly this is the LEAST effective strategy).

I think there are pros and cons to each method. 
I like the look and feel of the sketchbooks best – I have an affinity towards spiral bound things, but there is no order to them, and so now I am on book #4 and I find myself going through all of them to find the recipe I'm looking for.  If I had had the forethought when I began, I would have made one for main dishes, one for desserts, etc.  But instead they are all together.  I'm thinking maybe I should create a table of contents at the beginning of each volume.  At least that would simplify the search.

Do you have a system that works?
Please share! 

And don't forget to buy some cranberries while they are still available (READ HERE if you don't know about the very short season of cranberry availability).  While you're there buy a couple of pears and go home and make a cake! 
And listen to some Christmas Music while you do it. (Our favorite new Christmas Album of the year is Matt Wertz's Snow Globe).


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  2. hahahahahahahaha! laughing out loud as I read this about how best to organize your recipes. I actually came to your blog to copy/paste your Granola recipe. Do you remember my "Mosleys' Top 60 Recipes" set? One of my projects for Christmas break is to type all of my "keeper" recipes that I have MOUNTING in a manila folder in a kitchen drawer (similar to your last picture). I'm putting them in the same format as my "Top 60" because those are the ones I end up using the most. Your granola recipe was in my manila folder, so I'm copying/pasting it from your blog. :) I, too, am tired of losing my recipes. Hoping this will keep me organized for the new year! much love to you, friend!