A perfect fall dessert of delicious almonds and fresh pears.
If you’ve been here with us for a while, you may have read about our parents’ glorious and bountiful garden. Although our growing season here in Canada is limited, they make great use of the time we have and grow almost any vegetable you can imagine – and even some you can’t! But vegetables aren’t all they tend to.
Walking towards their garden from the house you’ll pass an array of fruit trees. When we were teenagers, we tried valiantly to convince our parents to install a pool in their back yard; they certainly had the room. We imagined pool parties, with poolside loungers scattered near the flowers and tomatoes, perhaps with the tall stalks of green beans providing shade, and snacks. We weren’t asking for much.
We were quite sure that we would get our way. Although our mother is not a swimmer, our father is a fish. From the time we were old enough to splash around our dad had us in the water; either the beaches when we were on vacation or the public pools in our neighbourhood. He is the one who taught us to love the water, and to swim, using his very own “sink or swim method”. He would help us float in the water by having a hand under our bellies; he would tell us to kick our legs and move our arms, and then, he would let go. You either sank, or you swam. Eventually we figured it out.
This easy access to public pools, a short pool season and a working class income which was carefully considered, meant that we never did get our way. Their sprawling backyard was never to be more than it is today – a lovely green space for their garden and fruit trees. A place for grandkids to run, for dogs to play and for impromptu family picnics in the shade of one of their many trees. Now when we visit and amble through their garden picking fresh plum, apples and pears, we’re quite glad that we never got our way.
The end of summer is when our parents pick all of the pears from their trees. Firm, green and plenty, they then deliver them to friends, family, and us. So many pears to deal with! This year we used some of these pears to offer our parents a treat. This almond and pear cake is similar to one they used to make for us, but which they haven’t made in years. One of those recipes that we think they may have forgotten about. When we surprised them with our cake a few weeks ago, we asked if it was similar to the one they used to make. Of course, they told us that it was much, much better. We’re not sure that this is true, but we do believe that this cake is great. We also believe that our parents are pretty great.
What is the difference between almond flour and ground almonds?
In baking, if a recipe calls for either almond flour or ground almonds (also called almond meal), it is best not to make any substitutions. Although similar (they both come from ground almonds) these are two different ingredients. Almond flour is typically made from blanched almonds that have had their skins removed; it is also ground quite finely. Ground almonds on the other hand usually still have the skin and are more coarsely ground.
Can I make this cake a few days in advance?
You sure can! In fact we find that this cake actually tastes best the day after it is made. It will keep easily on your counter top for 2 to 3 days; any longer and you should keep your cake in the refrigerator. Otherwise, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then some aluminum foil (or placed in a large freezer bag), this cake freezes very well. To serve, thaw at room temperature and then dust with icing sugar.
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