beautiuful LIVINg, bountiful FOOD

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

– Albert Camus

I took a walk in the woods today in a steady rain. The vibrance of the colorful leaves seemed heightened against the dark sky and every surface gleamed wet. I walked along a paved path and listened to the rain trickle down through the thinning canopy. As I looked up at the milk gray sky, I realized how much more light shown through this time of year compared to the height of summer. In July, the trees full with lush foliage, little light penetrates through.

I came across this broken Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus Orbicalatus) branch on the path. The bright red berries and yellow flowering petals were visible even from quite far away. This is actually an invasive species in Michigan (native to Korea, I think) that girdles up tree trunks like eager boa constrictors, actually upooting trees and breaking their crowns. Had I known this in the moment, I would have left it alone. I mistook it for its more benign cousin, the American Bittersweet (Celastrus Scandens). I’m a novice botanist like any other novice. I know just enough (really, not enough at all) to be dangerous.

Coming in from the rain makes the cold, wet misery worth it in the end. I stopped at Parmenter’s Cider Mill on the way home for warm cinnamon-sugar doughnuts and cider. After starting the fireplace and warming my feet for a short while while I savored my treats, I began baking a sweet, fall treat for a neighborhood gathering we attended that night (filled up from cider mill treats, I gave the entire uncut cake to the host).

Autumn Spice Pear Cake

Serves 6 – 8 |  Prep Time :15 | Total Cook Time 1:15


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • 5 ripe pears
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • shortening or BAK-KLENE ZT (my favorite) to grease pan
  • flour to coat pan


  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • saucepan


  • 12 cup bundt pan
  • blender
  • electric mixer


  1. Heat oven Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease cake pan and flour lightly.
  3. Peel and core 2 pears. Purée in blender until smooth. Measure ½ the purée and retain the rest for later.
  4. In small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
  5. In a larger bowl, beat the purée, oil, and granulated sugar with electric mixer until blended.
  6. Add eggs and mix until well combined.
  7. Add vanilla and beat until combined.
  8. Add flour gradually, blending as you go until fully combined.
  9. Peel and core remaining 3 pears. Fold chopped pears into cake batter.
  10. Pour mixture into pan and bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Cook cake for 15 minutes then invert onto cooling rack and remove pan.
  12. Cool cake completely, about 45 more minutes.


  1. To make icing, melt butter, brown sugar, salt and cream over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil.
  2. Boil 1 minute, stirring the entire time.
  3. Remove from heat; let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Whisk in in powdered sugar until smooth.
  5. Immediately pour over cooled cake.

Autumn Spice Cake

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