Pear spice bread (recipe here)
I listen to a lot of new music (considering my day job, I kinda have to), but it’s not so often that I stumble upon and fall utterly in love with a virtually unknown artist I’ve never heard of. When it happens, though, I get really excited and immediately tell everyone I know about it. These moments are some of my favorite reminders of why I love music and working in this industry. On Thursday I was browsing new releases on eMusic and the ’70s-looking cover of All Of It Was Mine, an album by The Weather Station, caught my eye, so I downloaded it and got sucked in for the rest of my workday. The Weather Station is the project of singer/songwriter Tamara Lindeman, who writes gorgeous acoustic folksongs that remind me of some of my favorite singer/songwriters, old and new; Joni Mitchell, Judee Sill, Laura Marling, Sharon Van Etten. Her music is warm and soothing, and it was the perfect soundtrack to the weekend I spent cooped up in my apartment, baking my Saturday morning away while I waited for Hurricane Irene to pass through Brooklyn.
I tried to use up produce and perishables like eggs, butter and milk that’d go bad in the fridge when we lost power, and make food that’d be OK to sit at room temperature. (Even though my neighborhood, Bushwick, wasn’t in an evacuation zone, I was still pretty positive there’d at least have a power outage — which, thankfully, there wasn’t). My roommate’s boss sent her home with his entire CSA share earlier this week, which included a bunch of pears, so I used those to make this amazing pear spice bread. I think this is the most delicious quick bread I’ve made, and it was as comforting as The Weather Station (not to be confused with the actual weather station — or, more accurately in my case, NYTimes.com hurricane updates — because none of that was really comforting). There’s also a reference to making homemade bread in opening track “Everything I Saw.” And to top it off, all of this paired (pear-ed? ha ha ha) together nicely with some other recent developments that have left me as warm and fuzzy as the warm richness of cinnamon, ginger and cloves in the pear bread. Hitting particularly close to home is a line from the song “Came So Easy”: “Your kind words came so easy, and I have winced at sugar sweetness/ You made me feel so wealthy, so I got tongue-tied, I got restless.” I love when the right music shows up at just the right time.
Adapted from Amanda’s Cookin’; makes two loaves, or 24 muffins (or one loaf and 12 muffins, which I did)
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups demerara sugar (I’ll definitely cut this to about 1 1/2 or maybe less next time)
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey (I had to substitute agave for part of this because I was slightly short on honey)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 medium pears, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Lightly grease and flour your loaf pan(s) and/or muffin tin(s).
• In a medium bowl, mix together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
• In a large bowl, mix the sugar, canola oil, honey and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each one. Stir in the flour mixture. Fold in the diced pears and nuts.
• For loaf pans: Bake for about 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For muffin tins, bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.