Colorful & comforting seasonal recipes for savory dishes, sweets and cocktails. 

Galangal & Pear Olive Oil Cake

Galangal & Pear Olive Oil Cake

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Over the weekend I popped into the farmers market and picked up this beautiful galangal from the folks at Millsap Farms. If you're from Springfield, you may have just experienced mental flashes of spectacular pizza and that's exactly right. The Millsaps host pizza night on their farm every Thursday during the warm weather months, making pizza with rotating seasonal ingredients from the farm and local producers using their handmade New Mexican-style Horno oven. I've enjoyed countless wonderful evenings there with friends and many-a-delicious pizzas. Take for example, this beaut with roasted beet, olive oil, mozzarella, white cheddar, arugula and saltwort

Galangal looks a lot like its close cousin, ginger, and shares similarities in flavor. It's has an elevated sharpness over ginger, almost peppery, with sparks of citrus and sweet pine. 

I've not done much cooking with galangal outside of making curry paste, which is how I thought I might use it this time, but rapt in cravings for holiday sweets (imagine that), I thought it would be fun to play with its complexity in dessert form, this olive oil cake with ripe bosc pear.  Alice Medrich turned me onto olive oil cake with her Sherry and Olive Oil Pound Cake. Replacing butter or shortening with olive oil is the secret to unmatched tender moistness that lives on for days after baking. It's unreal. This Galangal & Pear Olive Oil Cake leans on the ripe pears for sweetness, supplemented primarily with brown sugar and the bright, puckering sweetness of the lemon-galangal glaze. While it's not overly sweet, each bite is packed with character in flavor and texture.

Galangal & Pear Olive Oil Cake
Makes 1 cake using 9x5 inch loaf pan; Serves 6-8

for the cake
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking power
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/3 cup grated galangal
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup olive oil
3 cups grated pear (using ripe, but firm pear; grate immediately before using)

for the glaze
1 tablespoon finely grated galangal
2 ounces lemon juice
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment paper and let the long sides overhang a few inches. Lightly grease the parchment paper with butter or olive oil, set aside. 

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, poppy seeds, lemon zest, and grated galangal. 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together both sugars, eggs and vanilla extract until very well combined. Stream in the cup of olive oil, continuing to whisk while you add it. Fold in about half of the dry ingredients using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Mix well then add the remaining dry ingredients, folding together until fully combined. Carefully stir in the grated pear. Pour the batter into to the prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 75 to 80 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. 

Remove from oven, let cool completely in the loaf pan, then use the overhanging sides of the parchment paper to carefully remove the cake from the pan. Return the cake to a cooling rack or cutting board for glazing. 

Whisk together finely grated galangal with lemon juice. Whisk in confectioners sugar, breaking up tiny clumps as needed. Liberally brush the glaze over the sides and top of the cake, then serve immediately. 

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