I am sitting in an unfamiliar apartment. There is the hiss of a radiator, the clunk of shoes on the stairs outside. Through the window next to the kitchen table, where my mug of now-cold coffee sits, I can see pigeons and a light flurry of snow. The scent of both diesel and sweet-roasted nuts; the crowded, delayed Q train and the piles of discarded Christmas trees on the sidewalk scream it out: I moved back to New York. I am still getting used to the newness of it all.
It’s been a while since I last wrote, despite my promise to do so more. Between travel and freelancing, holidays and packing, I haven’t had much time to myself.
I did bake a cake, though, on a cold December morning before Christmas. It was a gingerbread cake: Moist, spicy, and studded with hunks of Bosc pear. It smelled sweet and rich. Familiar. We ate it warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream while watching a movie on a Monday night. We ate it cold, for breakfast one day and for lunch the next. It was gone before I realized that I hadn’t taken a picture. But it did make rounds through the Internet, leaving many beautiful images in its wake.
Dark Gingerbread Pear Cake
From Gourmet, October 2008
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses (not robust or blackstrap)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup grated peeled ginger
1 Bosc pear
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan, knocking out excess.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt.
Melt butter with water.
Beat together brown sugar and molasses with an electric mixer until combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well. Beat in flour mixture at low speed until just combined. Add butter mixture and ginger, beating just until smooth. Pour into cake pan.
Peel pear and cut into 3/4-inch pieces. Scatter over batter. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool slightly.