This is a fruit-forward, nicely-spiced tasty little cake that would be as well-suited for a brunch table as it would for after dinner. As it has a good amount of fiber in it (peels! whole wheat flour! oats!) I feel good about suggesting it for breakfast, too; your family will see the glaze and think you're giving them a special treat.
I used Asian pears along with a granny smith for this, and it was lovely. If you feel your pears have a very thick skin, feel free to peel them. Otherwise leave them on; no one will be the wiser, I promise.
Yield 12 servings
1/2 cup (125g) unsalted butter
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
1 T cocoa
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup/75 grams rolled oats
1 1/2 all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups grated tart apples and pears (I used a combination of 3 pears 1 green apple; wash the fruit well and leave the peels on)
Brown Butter Glaze:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 - 2 tablespoons whole milk, as needed
1/3 cup toasted walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)
Prepare the cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray a 8 x 2 inch square pan (or you can use 9 x 2-inch square pan, too, but you’ll reduce the baking time).
Using an electric mixer or with a large bowl and whisk, beat butter, pumpkin, cocoa, and brown sugar until light and well-combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and oats, stir well. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and baking soda.
Using a large spatula, stir in half the grated fruit, and then half of the flour until smooth. Add remaining fruit and flour, and stir until well incorporated.
Spread batter in the prepared pan and bake until the top springs back when lightly pressed in the center of the cake, 55 to 70 minutes (45 - 55 minutes if using a 9 x 2-inch pan). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Prepare the glaze: In a large silver-colored saucepan (so you can see the color of the butter better as it browns), melt the butter, then let it simmer until the foam on top falls to the bottom of the pot and the color turns a nutty brown, about 3 minutes. Swirl the pan as you get close to the color to keep from burning. Remove the pan from the heat, and pour the butter into a medium bowl, scraping the pan well with a spatula to get all of the lovely browned bits. Whisk in brown sugar until it dissolves. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar, salt and vanilla until well-combined. Add a bit of milk at a time until until you’ve got a thick glaze. Spread this over the cooled cake. Sprinkle the cake with the chopped nuts. If you can wait, let the glaze set for a couple hours before serving.