Fallen Pear Torte | La Pêche Fraîche

I’ve fallen out of favor, fallen from grace.
Fallen out of trees and I’ve fallen on my face.
Fallen out of taxis, out of windows too.
Fell in your opinion when I fell in love with you.

Falling, Florence and the Machine

Fallen Pear Torte | La Pêche Fraîche

When I arrived home over the holidays, I was pleasantly surprised by a glut of gorgeous Harry and David d’anjou pears, a generous gift from my Uncle John!

My parents had been pretty faithfully eating them, but as empty nesters, it can be hard to eat an entire basket of fruit.
Thus, there were 3 or 4 softening pears who looked pretty sad and were just begging to be put to good use.

Fallen Pear Torte | La Pêche Fraîche

Much googling followed, as I searched for recipes that would use overripe pears other than pear sauce.
You see, baking with pears, in spite of some of their similarities with apples, is a whole different game.
Generally one chooses underripe pears that are still hard with some bite, because otherwise they all too easily turn to mush and release a wash of juice.

I stumbled upon a Chowhound discussion post that had a bunch of suggestions, including one for a cake that is apparently famous, as it has spawned many threads just devoted to it.

It’s an eggy, buttery cake with as many soft pear slices as you can fit crammed in.  The edges are slightly crispy, like a traditional cake, but in the middle, where the pear juices were absorbed and the cake has fallen into itself is soft and sumptuous, more like a torte than a cake.
It’s brilliant served in wedges with a dusting of powdered sugar or a little unsweetened whipped cream.

This pear torte is ultra easy, delicious, and useful—definitely deserving of its “fame”!

Fallen Pear Torte | La Pêche Fraîche

“Fallen” Pear Torte
makes 1 8- or 9-inch cake
adapted from galleygirl

113 grams (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
150 grams (3/4 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
120 grams (1 cup) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 very ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 8ths

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8- or 9-inch springform pan (8-inch is better but work with what you have).
Cream butter for 3 minutes on high speed until very light and fluffy; add in the sugar and vanilla and beat for another 3 minutes, until mixture is no longer gritty.
Add in the eggs and beat for 4 full minutes; mixture should be very pale and homogeneous.
Scrape the bowl and sprinkle the flour, baking powder, and salt on top.
Stir until completely incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared pan and arrange the peeled pears around the cake (this won’t matter much in the end); really cram them in to fit all of them.
Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a skewer comes out just barely clean with a few moist crumbs.
Allow to cool completely, then release from pan.
Serve with powdered sugar and tea.
Gets better with age!


Apple, Pear, Butterscotch, and Cheddar Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

Underwater basket-weaving: (noun)

Used as the type of college course that is thought to be without any practical or professional value.

Apple, Pear, Butterscotch, and Cheddar Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

This whirlwind of a quarter has finally drawn to a close.
My daddy told me, as I arrived home (Nati in tow) to be glad that I simply survived.
And how right he is.

(“Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim.”
—Tyler Knott Gregson)

I still need to get myself employed, but for now today, I’m content to have survived my craziest academic quarter yet (and hopefully ever) and be home in my wonderful house with my parents and boyfriend (and animals, of course), with my head above water and still planted firmly on my shoulders.

Apple, Pear, Butterscotch, and Cheddar Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

I have been so so so in and out with meager offerings in my posts on the blog, which is something that irritates me to no end, but which was an unfortunate consequence of working tirelessly on school.

Next quarter will be different.
Also, I have so many ideas for holiday baking and I’m just praying I have enough time to fit them all in during break.

This pie is from Thanksgiving, and it would be an utter shame if I didn’t get this post together whilst we are still in pie season.

Apple, Pear, Butterscotch, and Cheddar Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

This pie is a delicious endeavor and a total showstopper.
It features a gloriously brown and shiny, crackling crust chock full of sharp cheddar cheese and sweet cream butter.
The inside is comprised of layers upon layers of cinnamon-poached pears, soft and sweet, and tart, spiced apples, with more bite and brightness, all lacquered and laced with brown butter butterscotch, a salty, profound, caramel sauce that really takes the pie to the next level.

There are a few components, but three of them (the poached pears, the butterscotch, and the dough) can be made ahead of time and store beautifully, so that when pie day rolls around, you will be prepared and calm and ready to make the most beautiful, bad-ass pie of your life.

Apple, Pear, Butterscotch, and Cheddar Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

When making pie, my best advice is as follows:
Keep everything cool.  Your flour, your butter, your fillings, your mentality.
Read the recipe very well beforehand.  Make sure you have all of your ingredients on hand and prepped.
Relax!  A rustic pie tastes just as good alone with a perfect lattice, and any pie is better than no pie.  People will love you and you should be proud.
Pie will always make you friends.

Apple, Pear, Butterscotch, and Cheddar Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

Apple, Pear, Butterscotch, and Cheddar Pie
makes 1 large pie

for the poached pears:
1 lemon, zested in large strips and juiced
1 stick cinnamon
2 pounds hard pears, peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup white wine
1 1/3 cups sugar

for the pie filling:
2 lb. granny smith and golden delicious apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
juice of ½ lemon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch cloves
pinch allspice
pinch ginger
pinch coriander
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch

for the butterscotch:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup (about 109 grams) packed dark or light brown sugar (I used dark)
1/2 cup (118 ml) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 ml) vanilla extract

for the cheddar pie crust:
360 grams (3 cups) AP flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cane sugar
170 grams shredded cheddar cheese
170 grams (1 1/2 sticks) frozen butter, grated
1 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
60 to 90 grams ice water

Make the dough: whisk flour, salt, and sugar together.
Cut and mix the grated cheese and butter until the largest piece is pea-sized.
Add in the vinegar, then sprinkle on just enough ice water so that you can gather the dough into a cohesive mass.
Divide dough into two balls.
Refrigerate 1 ball.
Roll the other ball out very gently into a 12 inch round.
Lightly drape over a pie dish and crimp gently.
Refrigerate or freeze.

Poach the pears: peel, core, and slice the quinces fairly thinly.
Place lemon zest, juice, cinnamon stick, sugar, wine, and quince into a sauce pot on medium high heat.
Bring mixture to a hard simmer, then reduce heat to a bare simmer.
Simmer for 10 minutes, then place lid on pot and allow to cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the moisture has been mostly absorbed and the quince is rosy toned.
Allow to cool completely.

Make the butterscotch: brown butter in a saucepan.
Add sugar, cream, and salt and whisk to combine.
Bring to a very gently boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and carefully taste to adjust salt and vanilla.
Allow to cool at room temperature.

To make the pie, toss thinly sliced and peeled apples with lemon juice, salt, and spices.
Whisk sugars together with cornstarch; stir into apple mixture and set aside.
Remove the top portion of the pie dough from the fridge; allow to thaw until it is workable.
Roll out to ¼ inch thickness and cut out shapes or lattices; refrigerate.
Remove bottom part of dough from freezer or fridge.
Place 1 thin layer of pears on the bottom of the pie.
Top with a layer of apple mixture and a drizzle of butterscotch.
Repeat until pie is full.
Top the pie with the lattice or decorations as desired.
Brush with egg wash or cream and sprinkle on turbinado sugar.
Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 375 and bake for 45 minutes, covering crust if necessary.



It’s Spring!  That’s spring with a capital S, because it was official as of March 20th.


And yet here I am sharing a treat that’s chock full of fall fruit.
While in the tropics, feasting on pineapple and papaya.

Bad blogger!  Bad, unseasonal blogger!

Are you really surprised?  Remember when I gave you candy canes in January?  That was cruel.

To make up for it, I’m sharing some spring-y things that I’ve been diggin’ lately.
Yay for links!  Click ’em.  You know you want to.


First, this cake!  Lemon is top on my list of favorite, fresh flavors.  I love the edible flowers that Jen used to decorate, as well.  Totally spring-appropriate.
(And that pup!  Oh, those photos of Kaweah make me miss Ginger so much.)

In the vein of flowery cakes, I think I pinned every. single. one. of these photos.  OHMYGOD. I can’t describe how obsessed I am.  Wow.

It’s like Laura is in my brainthese heavenly, spiced falafels accompanied by tons of fresh veggies look like the definition of a perfect, light lunch.  Currently craving.

And helloooo another winner from Annie.  This gorgeous tart is so simple, and the accompanying story is quite heartwarming.  Raspberries + pistachio for life.  One of my favorite combinations.

How cute are these little cakelets!  Mini cakes for life! Molly has won me over.  I give in, I think they are the cutest thing to ever happen to the planet.  Feed me, Molly.


Thanks to this board, I am becoming obsessed with floral arrangements… Oh Pinterest, you do me wrong.

Linda’s amazing instagram feed satisfies me when her posts are far between.  All those flowers and sunsets make me dizzy with envy!  And so many breakfast bowls.  Gah.

When can I move into this beautiful loft-to-be? ASAP, please.

I want to be here. Spring rooftop dinner party.  Wait, why is this not my life again?  (Pinterest, you devil.)

What is inspiring you this spring?  Share your photos, links, and love–I’d love to see!
I’m quite excited for the change of seasons, though, to be honest, I will be less than glad to leave México.


You can’t tell that I’m very excited for spring based on these muffins, but let me explain myself.
There were quite a few lonely, leftover pears and apples in the house fridge, just calling to be folded into a spicy batter and baked into muffins.

These muffins are soft, with lovely chunks of sweet pear and apple, the buttery batter made with nutty whole wheat flour and 5-spice and cinnamon for a kick.  It’s topped with a crunchy streusel with a touch more of the numbing, warming spices.

The recipe would be equally wonderful with fresh blackberries or even blueberries, and I could see peaches eventually making their way in.  For now, I made due with what I had on hand.

These are a perfect breakfast treat– they are not too sweet, and feel wholesome while still being a treat.

They’re splendid with a good strong cup of tea.


Whole Wheat 5-Spice Pear Muffins 
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes 12 muffins

for the muffins:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons 5-spice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 small pears, peeled and chopped
1 small apple, peeled and chopped

for the streusel:
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons turbinado sugar
pinch of cinnamon and 5-spice
2 tablespoons butter, cold

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a muffin tin with papers.
Make the streusel: whisk the flour and sugar together with the spices.
Using a fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is clumpy.
Make the muffins: cream butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add sugars, salt, and spices and beat for 3 more minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add the egg.
Beat for 4 more minutes; mixture should be very fluffy and not gritty at all.
Whisk the milk and vinegar together.
Scrape the bowl and add the flour and baking powder and baking soda on top of the butter.
Begin to slowly mix the batter as you pour in the milk/vinegar mixture.
Batter will be thick; gently stir in the chopped pears and apples.
Scoop batter into muffin tin, then top with streusel.
Bake for 20-24 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.

Slump, Grunt, Buckle


Snorfle, sniffle, slurp.


Can we take a moment to appreciate the ridiculous names bestowed upon cobblers, crisps, and the like?

Betty, buckle, cobbler, crisp, crumble, grunt, pandowdy, slump, zonker(????).

whaaaaaaaaa why why why why


Despite their stupid names, these kind of desserts are delicious, and what’s more, crazy easy and fast.
Perfect when you need a quick fix of warm, cozy dessert. (Which, in my case, is 24/7.)

Chop up seasonal, fresh fruit (it can even be a little underripe.  We don’t judge here.) and toss it with some sugar, salt and flour/cornstarch.
No need to measure, just go with your heart by taste.
Top it off with buttery cookie crumbs (I wish my whole life were topped with buttery cookie crumbs) and bake it.


This is the best crisp I have ever tasted. Ever.
I’ve made it a few times, in a few different forms.
The first time, about 3 years ago (is 2011 really 3 years ago?! Have mercy.), I baked it in a big heavy dish, and served it with vanilla ice cream.  I was blown away.
In fact, I was so impressed that I then made it into a crumble pie (think dutch apple pie).  The pie was good, but, can I be honest, people?  It was more work.  And the best part was the filling and topping anyways.  So I do not advocate the pie version.  It’s fussier and not worth it.  Keep it simple, stooopid.
And now, I’ve made it into tiny little individual crisps, so you don’t have to think twice about eating four.

For once in my life, I’m not exaggerating.  Seriously. Best crisp I have EVER. HAD.
Sweet and juicy from the pears, tart and punchy from the cranberries, and spicy and rich from the buttery gingersnaps.  
I’ll never look at plain pear crisps the same way.  There’s no going back once you try this combo.
Read: try this combination.  For your own sake.


Okay, time for an explanation about these mini crisps/crumbles/whatever you want to call them.

Other than being delicious, they are dead simple.

I didn’t use a recipe.  Here’s what I did:

peel, core, and dice a couple d’anjou pears
toss ’em with lemon juice, a couple tablespoons of sugar and flour, and some fresh cranberries
throw a bunch of gingersnaps into my food processor and grind them into crumbs
add a hefty pinch of pepper, ginger, brown sugar, and salt
melt some butter and pour it in until the crumbs get clumpy
dump the fruit into serving vessels, top with a shit ton of gingersnap crumb stuff
bake until bubbling and burbling

If you want more solidified measurements and directions, check out Deb’s (AWESOME) recipe.  Seriously thankyouthankyou Deb for leading me to this delicious flavor combination.  Heaven.


Wonder Woman


Disclaimer: this post contains explicit words, but it also contains chocolate.  Read at your own discretion, my loves.

Wake up ready to kick this day’s ass.

Put on those leggings that make you feel like fucking wonder woman
pull them up up up
snap the waistband
choose your warmest wool socks and your favorite sports bra.
Admire your butt in those leggings.

Ready to yoga this day away.

Om, motherfucker, om.


Get to your bike
jiggle the key into the lock
key won’t turn shit shit shit
take it out, try again.
No luck.  Contemplate forcing it open, worry that it will break.
Pull off your gloves with your teeth, smash the key but no, it’s really fucking stuck.

Check the time: you’re too goddamn late for class anyways.
Stream off all the curse words you know.
Blame the bike;
blame the cold;
blame the key,
just not yourself.
Decidedly not yogic.  Fuck it.


Back inside, strip off the scarf, jacket, socks, gloves.
Back into the warmth of the kitchen.

Retreat into your head.
Slice gorgeous little Concorde pears, whip eggs with a touch of sugar,
brown butter, stir in heaps of dark chocolate until it’s smooth and shiny.
Dip in a finger and then another.
Dance around listening to Van Morrison, spoon in mouth, chocolate smeared down your chin.
Talk to your father on the other side of the Atlantic; try to make yourself seem calmer than you really are; pretend you have your shit together.
Switch to Stevie Wonder as you munch on gingersnaps.


Bake the cake for half as long as all of the Stones songs in your library.
Work on yet more goddamn chemistry problems while you wait.
Celebrate the correct ones with a piece of chocolate.

Paint your toes electric blue.
Wish for the ocean.

Braid your mile-long hair and notice that your arms are tired by the end of it;
resolve to do 10 extra chuttarungas today.
Pick all of the crispy, crunchy bits off the cake: they were going to fall and burn anyway.
Wish for a cup of milk,
settle for your water bottle.


Shudder when Christmas music comes on;
no no not ready too much too soon Jesus let me take it one fucking holiday at a time.
Watch the cake rise rise rise
and then fall in the center, cooling into a gooey pudding.  What the fuck.

Giggle and agree when your friend says it’s kinda ugly;
gracefully declare it “rustic” but secretly plan to hide its hideousness with globs of whipped cream and a shower of powdered sugar.
Call it a torte and explain that it’s supposed to look that way.  Pick the pears off the top when no one is around.

Laugh at your ugly fucking cake through the lens of your camera.
Serve that motherfucker with love, gratitude, humility, and a chocolaty smile.



This cake is utterly simple, almost flourless, and full of lovely chunks of pear, whose juices turn it into a pudding.
The center will collapse in; fill in the crater with whipped cream and no one will be any the wiser.
It’s almost brownie-like in its texture, and the sweet pears play a beautiful foil to the rich chocolate.
Serve it in mugs with spoons.  Feed your heart; feed those you love.

Much love from my full heart to yours.


Pear and Dark Chocolate Torte
adapted from Cook Eat Love
makes 1 6×3 inch cake

170 grams (6 ounces) dark chocolate, chopped
140 grams (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons) butter
pinch kosher salt
120 grams (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sugar
3 large eggs
25 grams (3 tablespoons) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 small pears, peeled, cored, and chopped and tossed with an extra 25 grams (3 tablespoons) flour
360 mL (1 1/2 cups) whipping cream, beaten to soft peaks
powdered sugar, to taste, and for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease and flour a 6×3 inch springform pan.
In a saucepan, brown the butter; stir in the chocolate and whisk until a smooth ganache forms.
Whisk in a pinch of salt.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs and sugar until they are tripled in volume and very pale in color, about 7 minutes.
Sift the flour and baking powder over the eggs, then fold it in.
Fold in the chocolate mixture, then fold in the flour-covered pears.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for an hour, until the center is barely jiggly; immediately transfer it to the freezer.
Softly whip the cream with a touch of powdered sugar, if desired, then spread over the cooled cake.
Dust with chocolate shavings and powdered sugar.
Eat with a SPOON.

Windy Wednesday

IMG_2744 (2)

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter W.


Words are not one of the W’s.  They escape me today.

But rather: waffles, waterfalls, and wistful. (Wednesday, too, I suppose!)

Oh… and windy… Because, yes, I am in the Windy City.


So, um, yes.  Here are some abstract pictures of a waffle cake.

And my dog, obviously.

IMG_2766 (2)

My waffle maker makes kind of smushed waffles.  It’s pretty old.  I don’t blame it.

The result of  stacking up these smushed waffles with a lightly spiced brown butter and maple pear-apple compote and a maple Italian meringue is a delicious but somewhat ugly cake.
I know!! So many ugly cakes lately.  Sorry.  Sometimes that’s how the cookie crumbles.

IMG_2772 (2)

Pssst… I even had a slice for breakfast!

(Ginger, on the other hand, did not.)
Which explains her facial expression.



Pear and Apple Waffle Cake

for the waffles:
from King Arthur Flour
1 1/2 cups milk, warmed to 110 degrees F
6 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 scant cup of Belgian pearl sugar

Sprinkle the yeast over the milk to prepare it for its job; after five minutes, whisk in the butter and maple syrup as well as the vanilla extract.
Stir in the eggs and the flour and salt; set the batter aside in a warm place, covered in plastic wrap, for one hour, to rest and rise.
Right before cooking, stir in the Belgian pearl sugar.
Cook the waffles in a waffle maker.
for the pear and apple compote:
2 medium pears, peeled and cored and chopped into small pieces
3 medium apples, peeled and cored and chopped into small pieces
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon butter
pinch salt
pinch cinnamon
pinch nutmeg

Brown the butter in a saute pan, then add all the apples and pears and saute them until they soften.
Add the maple syrup and allow it to reduce by 1/2.
Season to taste with salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Allow to cool before using.

for the maple Italian meringue buttercream:
1 egg white
pinch salt
pinch cream of tartar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 stick of butter, softened

Place egg white, salt, and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Place maple syrup in a small pot and begin to heat it up.
Whip the egg white while heating the maple syrup to 240 degrees F.
The white should be at soft peaks when the syrup reaches temp; drizzle it in with the mixer running.
Once the meringue has cooled, beat in the butter.
Stack up the waffles with buttercream and compote.

Moody Blues

When I woke up on Friday, the sky was covered with clouds heavy with rain, and a thick fog had settled low to the ground like a lush carpet.  Not the kind of morning that makes me want to jump out of my warm, cozy bed and run straight into the cold, cold rain.  
The past two mornings, however, have been utterly glorious.  People.  Take a moment to look around and take in the beauty that is autumn.  I mean, come on.  The hues of the trees are so brilliantly rich, it’s hard to believe they’re real.  I gather that the extra gorgeous colors are due to the strange growing season this year.  I can’t get over them.  
But there will be plenty more of that later on in this post.
Firstly, I bring dessert!  I’ve been baking a lot lately, but have been too lazy chosen not to write about most of them; “they” being a maple, walnut, and brown butter caramel cake (whew), a nutmeg maple cream tart, coconut chocolate banana bread, potato chip and dark chocolate bark… 
I did, however, save the best for the blog (but of course!).
Inspired by a classic cheese plate, I set out to make something that would reflect all the best elements of one:  crunchy crackers, slightly bitter nuts, smoky meat (if you’re into that sort of thing), tangy, salty, and rich cheese, sweet fruit, and just a whisper of honey.  
A few weekends ago, my family had bo ssam, a Korean lettuce wrapped, brown sugar encrusted-pork shoulder dish.  Though I (obviously) did not eat the meat, I was sure to save the rendered fat and gelatin (Why?!? Because I’m weird.)
And because I just knew it would come in handy sometime soon.  And it did!  Clearly I am learning to utilize some sort of frugality and foresight (neither being my… um… strong suit).
This tart is comprised of a brown sugar, wheat cracker, walnut, salted butter and pork fat crust, a mascarpone and blue cheese filling, figs, pears, and a drizzle of honey.
Blue cheese tart.
The revolution is coming, people.
Granted, I couldn’t taste all of the elements together because of the pork fat, but I know it was good.  I think everyone who has tasted it has had two pieces.   
Victory is mine.


And because I can’t resist… Here are some autumnal pictures I’ve taken.

Blue Cheese Tart
1 cracker crust, baked (I used equal parts wheat crackers, graham crackers, and walnuts, added 3 tablespoons of flour, then added half a stick of melted, salted butter, about 3 tablespoons of melted pork fat and gelatin, two tablespoons of brown sugar, and a hefty pinch of salt.  Mix it together, press into a buttered tart pan, and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 or so minutes, or until golden and slightly crunchy.)
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
2 ounces good quality blue cheese (taste as you go)
1 cup confectioner’s sugar (again, taste as you go.  Palettes vary.)
1/2 cup cream, whipped
figs, pears, and honey, for garnish
Once the crust is cool, whip the mascarpone and blue cheese together.  Add in the powdered sugar, slowly, tasting as you go, until homogeneous.  Fold in the whipped cream.  Spread into crust, and chill until set.  Top with fig and pear slices, and drizzle with honey.