Friday, January 10, 2014

When In Doubt, Bake

So, we are still in a holding pattern.  As of right now we really don't know much more than we did a week ago.  And that was that dad was admitted to the hospital with jaundice, off color "output".  A CAT scan showed nothing.  An ERCP scope to stent the valve between his liver and pancreas and take a scraping of cells from the valve showed no signs of cancer  after biopsy.  However a blood test showed his C19 levels (a mark for pancreatic cancer) increased.  Not off the charts but with all presenting together Dad's gastric Dr is fairly convinced it's pancreatic cancer.  He has been recommended to a surgeon in Albany to help diagnose and treat.  We head down Sunday for a Monday morning CAT scan and a meeting with the surgeon to discuss our options.

In an attempt to pave the way, as it may be, we have hit every Dr to get him cleared for any possible surgery so that we can hopefully get him on the schedule as quickly as possible.  We've seen his pulmonary Dr (check), his gastric Dr (check), his cardiologist (check) and his family practice Dr (check).  The only Dr left to see is his nephrologist and we'll hit him when we get back.  But the major ones have signed off on any surgery.

So, this week has been a lot of appointments and in between a lot of waiting.  I don't do well waiting.  Instead I have chosen to make myself useful by taking over pretty much all the cooking.  We've had steak and shrimp (per Dad's request), beef vegetable soup (in the midst of that bitter cold) with beer bread, chicken marsala, spaghetti (the way Dad makes it so he walked me through it),  stuffed pork chops and tonight was chicken pot pie.  All of which takes up my afternoon, but leaves me at a loss during the day if we're not hitting appointments.  In an attempt to stay busy during the morning, I decided to make a Walnut-Pear Sour Cream coffee cake.

I've made this before and now I remember why I don't typically make it very often.  As I told dad I believe I deserve congratulations are in order because I managed to do what I don't think HE has ever been able to do:  in the making of one cake, I managed to use an entire set of 5 graduated bowls.  And use them CORRECTLY.  

Because I've been requested for the recipe and since, if my thighs have to be big, yours should be too, I'm willing to share:

Walnut-Pear Sour Cream Cake

1 cup broken walnuts
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 medium pears, peeled, cored and sliced (about 2 cups)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1-8oz carton dairy sour cream
½ cup broken walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9 inch spring form pan or a 9x9x2 inch baking pan.  Combine  1 cup nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon (bowl 1).  For topping cut the 1/4  cup butter with 1/3 cup flour to make coarse crumbs.  Stir in ¾ cup of the nut mixture(bowl 2).  Set nut mixture and the topping aside.

Toss pears with lemon juice(bowl 3).  Set aside.  In a medium bowl combine 1 ¾ cups flour, baking powder, soda, salt(bowl 4).  Set aside.  In a large bowl, beat ½ cup butter with electric mixer for 30 seconds.  Beat in granulated sugar and vanilla.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each(bowl 5).  Add flour mixture and sour cream alternately to batter.  Beat on low speed after each addition until combined.


Spread two-thirds batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with reserved nut mixture (without the butter).  Layer pears over the top.  Gently spread remaining batter over the pears.  Sprinkle with topping (with butter).  Bake 10 minutes.(  For a chunky top, sprinkle with ½ cup more nuts (I bypassed this and just baked it for 40 minutes then checked the doneness of the cake every 10 minutes ~50 minutes).  Bake for 45-50 minutes more or until wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.  Remove sides of spring form pan if using.  Cool at least 1 hour (yeah, right).  Serve warm with whipped cream if desired.  Serves 12.

In the end, it should look like this:
And yes.  It does taste as good as it works.

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