For the uninitiated, Five-Spice powder (available from Asian supermarkets) contains fennel, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and star anise. In traditional Chinese cooking it is used to season roast chicken and duck. Used as a spice for baking, Five-Spice powder crosses the boundary between East and West, and with delicious results! If you are wondering how this cake tastes, well, using the Five Spice powder to create a swirl in the center of the cake gives it a licorice scent and flavor. Asian pears or pear-apple as they are sometimes called, are almost overpowered by the Five-Spice powder but manage to hold their own, although entirely self-effacing. Baked, the pears hold their shape and retain their moisture but lose that light crisp slightly sweet flavor they had when eaten raw.
Asian Pear Bundt Cake with Five-Spice Swirl (from Baking a Moment)
Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 1 hour
For the Swirl:
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
For the Cake:
2 sticks (1 cup or 8 oz) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup Greek style nonfat plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 Asian pears, peeled and diced
Preheat oven 350˚F. Melt a tablespoon butter. Add about 1/2 tablespoon flour to the butter and combine. Brush butter mixture on the inside of a bundt pan, coating thoroughly. Be sure to get some of the butter mixture inside the crevices. Set aside.
Combine the swirl ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar. Stop the mixer to turn over the butter mixture. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla. On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, scraping it with your fingers into the mixing bowl, until just streaks of flour remain. Fold in the pears by hand, turning several times to distribute the fruit. Be careful not to over mix the batter.
Scrape half the batter in the prepared bundt pan. Be sure to smooth the batter right up to the edges and into the crevices of the bundt pan. Sprinkle the swirl mixture thickly on top. Use it all! Top with the remaining batter. Smooth the top and push the batter into the crevices. Bake one hour. Test at 55 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire cooling rack. Then invert the pan. The cake will easily fall out of the pan and onto the wire rack. Finish cooling on the rack. If desired, sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar.