Recently I had the opportunity to attend a fantastic brunch hosted by Harvard Common Press in their publishing offices – where there were many shelves of impressive cookbooks to encourage my kitchen obsessions. One of the first books that caught my eye was Gadgetology, a cookbook for kids about cooking with specific tools that are in most kitchens (mixing bowls, whisks, spatulas – stuff like that). As a child I had the Klutz Kid’s Cooking cookbook and, in theory, it was great but the best recipe in the whole book was for homemade play dough which isn’t even edible so when I saw Gadgetology I got excited.
I have a nine year-old brother, Antonio, who can usually be found in the kitchen with my mom – mixing things and in general getting in the way. More than anything I have wanted to get him a good kids cookbook for a long time – I wanted him to have a book full of reliable recipes and consistent easy to understand directions that he could refer to and cherish for a long time. So while at HCP I perused Gadgetology and, to my great delight, found it to be exactly what I was looking for. When Adam kindly offered me a copy I did a little happy dance and started plotting.
When I got home that afternoon I showed the book to BF and explained my plan, we would get ‘Tonio a bunch of cookware to go with Gadgetology and then cook with it while my fam was visiting for the holidays. As plans go it was pretty brilliant and I was able to come up with what I thought were some fundamental kitchenware pieces – nesting bowls, measuring cups and spoons, a paring knife and blade sheath, a small bar board, and some bamboo utensils. So Christmas came and ‘Tonio was basically bouncing to open his big box under the tree, which I had packed to the gills with his individually wrapped Christmas presents. He was ecstatic.
Fast-forward a couple days later and ‘Tonio and I are the first people up so we scurry to the kitchen and start perusing Gadgetology. There were quite a few recipes that we thought looked good – Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and this Gingerbread Cake being at the top of the list. We went with the cake – it looked breakfast-y and a great use of the excess pears we had around. It was perfect – spicy and filling, and with the pears it seemed healthy as a breakfast option 🙂 I loved this cake, but the actual cook (‘Tonio did all the work, I was merely a guide and did some of the more challenging stirring) thought it was a little too spicy and asked that next time we decrease the ginger. He also asked for more powdered sugar topping, so I think his priorities might have been a bit skewed.
Antonio’s Pear-Gingerbread Cake
Adapted from Gadgetology by Pam Abrams
1 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger (‘Tonio recommends only 1 tsp if you don’t like it too spicy)
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened to room temp
1/3 cup Molasses
1/3 cup Boiling Water
1 Large Egg
1 Bosc Pear, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
Confectioner’s Sugar (for topping)
Whipped Cream (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour an eight inch square pan. Sift flour, ginger, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl, set aside. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together, we just used upper arms and a whisk but a hand mixer would also work here. Add the molasses and boiling water the the sugar-butter mixture, mixing well. Stir the egg into the wet mixture making sure it doesn’t scramble. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until everything is just blended, 25-30 strokes by hand. Fold the pear pieces into the batter until evenly mixed in. Pour the mix into the pan and bake for 30 mins until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the fully cooked cake to cool for five minutes in the pan and then flip it out onto a cooling rack to cool another ten minutes. Dust the cooled cake with confectioners sugar, we made a crosshatch pattern with paper towels and it was pretty neat. Share the cake with all of your family and make sure to let them know just how awesome a cook you are. Especially if you’re nine 🙂