Recently I had the good fortune to dine at Frances, a small neighborhood restaurant in San Francisco that requires a 60 day advance reservation for a table. Needless to say, my husband and I failed to plan that far ahead, but friends of ours who are "regulars",(meaning they eat at Frances every Sunday), invited us to join them. From the casual friendly ambiance to the beautifully prepared dishes, there wasn't anything I didn't love about our evening. Since their opening in 2010, Frances has received much critical acclaim. Bon Apetit named it one of the "Ten Best New Restaurants in America" and Michelin awarded Frances with one star. My entire meal was memorable, but the warm Lumberjack cake filled with pears and dates that I had for dessert, made me forget my angst about summer's end and happily embrace the flavors of fall. As is typical of the cuisine at Frances, this cake is simple, homey, and full of flavor. At the restaurant it is served lukewarm with a scoop of homemade maple ice cream. The "secret recipe" was obtained from 7 x 7.com
Beautiful pears and medjool dates from the Ferry Building Farmer's Market.
Makes one 9" cake
1 cup water
1 cup pitted dates
1 t. baking soda
1-1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1 pear or apple, peeled and medium diced
In a saucepan, bring water and dates to a boil and then whisk in baking soda. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
In a bowl, mix and sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, cream butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and egg. Slowly add room temp date mixture until incorporated. Then slowly add dry ingredients until blended, careful not to over mix. Fold in coconut and pears with a large rubber spatula.
Pour mixture into a greased 9" springform pan and bake at 350F for 45 minutes. Rotate pan in oven and then continue to bake for 10 more minutes. Insert a clean toothpick into the middle of the cake and if it comes out clean, the cake is done. If not, rotate pan and continue to bake in 10 minute increments. Serve dusted with powdered sugar.
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