Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Carmela Soprano's Mom's Pear and Grappa Pound Cake


Okay… there are families.
And then there are families.
Some families are better faced with a bit of lubrication.
In one form or another.


Carmela's Mom is Sicilian.
So were some of my Aunts.
Nobody pulled out a knife or a piece.
But the bottles of wine and liquor were handy.
Just to keep the family lubricated.


Carmela's chapter Feeding My Family in Artie's The Sopranos Family Cookbook 
has a recipe called Mom's Pear and Grappa Pound Cake.
Grappa is Italian brandy… strong brandy.
Yeah, this sounds like something my Aunts would serve the family.


Grappa was served as an after-dinner drink, to help digest heavy meals. 
Some of my Uncles added Grappa to their espresso coffee.
Grappa went well with salted peanuts, pistachio nuts and other relatives.


Hint:
Canned fruits often vary.
You should have 1 1/4 Cups pears and 1/2 Cup liquid for the batter.
Yes, it's alright to have fruit in its own juice instead of heavy syrup.

To measure: pour 1/2 Cup pear liquid into a 2 Cup measuring cup.
Add chopped pear pieces until the liquid reaches the 1 3/4 Cup line.
Then you'll have just enough liquid and pear slices!


                        Mom's Pear and Grappa Pound Cake

Drain, reserving the liquid
16 ounce can pear halves or slices
Chop into 1/2 inch pieces.

Preheat oven to 350º
Grease a 10-inch Bundt or tube pan
Dust with flour and tap out the excess.

In a medium bowl stir together
3 Cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large mixer bowl, beat at medium speed
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 Cups sugar
Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Add, one at a time
3 large eggs
Beat well after each addition.
Beat in
the reserved pear liquid
3 Tablespoons Grappa, rum, or brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla
The batter will look curdled.  That's okay.


Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture.
Scrape the sides as necessary, and beat until blended, about 1 minute.
With a spatula, stir in the chopped pears.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes.
The edge of the cake should pull away from the pan's sides.
A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean.
Place the pan on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes.
Invert the cake onto the rack and remove the cake from the pan.
Let cake cool completely on the rack.

Before serving, dust with
Confectioners' sugar


Would I make Carmela's Mom's Pear and Grappa Pound Cake again?
With relatives coming?  Oh, yeah.
And I'd keep the bottles and nut dishes handy.
The booze goes well with the nuts... and relatives.


One recipe down.  Fifteen more to go.

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