If ever there was a recurrent theme for me here, it would be a quick bread made in a loaf pan. That’s just how I roll, I guess. Maybe I should change the name to Dave’s Quick Bread Recipes? Hmmm.
This came about actually while initially searching online for an apple cake recipe, and finding mention in the comments from some using Benedictine instead of an apple brandy or liqueur for the fruit. I knew I wanted to make something that called for sautéing fruit in butter and an appropriate brandy or liqueur. I’ve never heard of Benedictine before, but it intrigued me, plus I figured I could always use it for the upcoming holiday season in drinks and stuff.
So I bought a small bottle at the liqueur store. I didn’t bother going to Safeway, plus I figured the people at the liqueur store would know exactly what I wanted with no questions (or attitudes). At the Safeway near us, they lock up all their liqueur and I always feel like the morning staff people there silently judge me when I ask for a specific bottle of liqueur any time before noon. Even if it’s some sort of sweet brandy that one would have to drink a whole bottle of if one wanted to get drunk!
If you are worried about adding a whole 1/3rd cup of Benedictine, fear not, because it really adds to the flavor, but not in an overwhelming way. Being that Benedictine is made up of 27 herbs and spices (take that Colonel Sanders!), none of those flavors overwhelm or outdo, but rather each herb or spice contributes to the totality. The result is a very subtle added richness that I think really works well with the pears.
According to wiki, St. Benedict is the patron saint of Europe. He is known for the spirit of balance, moderation, and reasonableness. I think this touches on how I’ve tried to be this year. Getting diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes earlier this year, I initially thought that I’d be hanging up my baking mittens, or else making only ultra-healthy stuff, or stuff with stevia. You can almost see the change in recipes around springtime due to my diagnosis.
But in the end, I decided that moderation is key, and that I was not going to make my blog a diabetic foods only blog. Or any other restrictive type of diet. For me, the drugs, plus a change in my everyday diet, worked wonders. I was lucky enough to not need to take insulin. Even though I still eat a very small amount of what I bake and show here, which isn’t something I could do in the beginning, I’ve made permanent changes in my diet that in hindsight I now can’t believe how much excessive sugar, salt, fat, and carbs I’ve been eating. But it’s an easy thing to not be aware of. But now everything in balance. Just what St. Benedict embodies. I think sharing good tasty food is key. That way, you don’t eat the whole thing!
Anyways, I hope you enjoy this with the people in your life.
Benedictine Pear Loaf Cake (adapted from HERE)
4 pears, bosc or other variety
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 pinches of salt
1/3 cup Benedictine Liqueur
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup almond flour (or finely ground toasted almonds)
4 ounces unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan or other loaf pan of similar volume, by spraying with butter/flour, and or lining with parchment paper with two sides that overhang with the paper for easy removal.
Peel, core, and cut pears into even medium chunks.
Combine the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg into a very small bowl and whisk to blend.
In another bowl, add the self-raising flour with the almond flour and stir with a whisk several times. Add most of the cinnamon/ginger/nutmeg/salt mixture except for a couple of pinches for when you are sautéing the pears.
In a medium saucepan, sauté the pears with the 1 Tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat for about 5-8 minutes. While stirring often, sprinkle a couple of pinches of the cinnamon/ginger/nutmeg/salt mixture over the pear chunks. When pears are slightly tender and just slightly browned on the edges, pour the Benedictine over the pears and remove from heat. Set aside.
In a medium to large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending between additions. Add the vanilla and mix again. Add the flour mixture and fold until moistened.
Fold in half the pears only into the batter, reserving the pan juices in the pan for later. Add the batter with the pears to the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula.
Add the remaining pears on top of the batter in the pan and press each chunk of fruit down into the batter slightly.
Bake for about one hour until very lightly golden toasted on top, and toothpick inserted into the middle of loaf comes out without crumbs or moisture. A few crumbs is ok.
Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes before removing from pan.
While cake is cooling, heat up saucepan with the pear juices and add a couple of Tablespoons of apricot jelly. Stir to melt and thicken slightly, then brush top of cake with the thickened apricot jelly/pear juices.
Serve warm or cooled. Add scoop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.