no frosting, not a single garish-colored rose.
were no candles, no fear of conflagration.
there was very little sugar, compared to the standard-issue birthday cake.
was barely any flour, although it was not gluten free.
was, however, joy. For another year past, filled with love, friendships,
fortune, and travels afar.
excitement. For a year to come, down a meandering path strewn with
was great flavor in this cake. Just this morning we finished the leftover
slices for elevenses.
recipe was my birthday gift from Markipedia. He stumbled upon it when he was
hot on the trail of the Cum
Æneas’ portal to the underworld. (Don’t ask!)
As a point
of fact, it isn’t an
ancient Roman recipe at all, but rather a regional late-summer specialty from the Bay
should make this," is what he said. He didn't know then that he’d just given me my 57th
birthday present. I knew.
This is a
cake of parts, none too difficult. Substitutions can be made, but it won't be
European desserts, it isn't about the sugar. It's about closure - ending a meal
with something that sends you from the table with a slight smile on your lips,
and happiness in your heart.
of you are like me, in that you want to make your own birthday cake? It isn't
that I don't trust others (well, maybe that is an issue sometimes...), I simply
like making something special for me.
Oh, and Markipedia's
first birthday cake for me twenty years ago is another story, for another time.
ounces hazelnuts, roasted and skins removed
tablespoons butter, softened
whites, room temperature
pounds pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
bean, split lengthwise
ounces light brown sugar, divided
cream cheese, softened
sugar, for dusting
oven to 350°F.
Grease two 8-inch cake pans with butter, and line the bases with parchment
hazelnuts and flour together in the food processor until very finely chopped.
Add the sugar and butter and process until thoroughly combined. Scrape nut
mixture into a large mixing bowl. In another clean bowl, beat egg whites until
soft peaks form. Gently fold the whites into the nut mixture, and divide
between the two cake pans. Bake for 20 minutes; remove from the oven and let
cool in the pans on racks for 5 minutes. Loosen the cake from the sides of the
pans, and turn out onto the racks, removing the parchment paper, and letting
pears, vanilla, and 2 1/2 ounces light brown sugar in a pan and cover with
baking paper. Cook over a medium heat for 10-12 minutes, or until soft. Strain
over a bowl, reserving the syrup, and let cool. Discard vanilla bean.
remaining light brown sugar, cream cheese, ricotta, and cream until thick. Fold
in the cooled pears.
two cakes so that they will fit snugly in an 8-inch springform pan. Place one
layer in the bottom of the springform pan. Spoon in the ricotta and pear
filling, and top with the other cake round, pressing it gently so that the
filling goes to the sides.
2-4 hours. Gently loosen the springform ring, and run a knife around the outer
edge of the cake. Remove the ring, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar, and
serve with reserved syrup.
Labels: dessert, genoise, hazelnuts, italian, neapolitan, pears, ricotta, traditional, vanilla