Did you know that rosemary is the symbol of friendship and remembrance? This week we went to our woodpile to find the biggest log to burn. We carried it into the house, placed it on the hearth, and decorated it with beautiful red ribbon and sprigs of fresh rosemary.

On Friday night we will gather with friends and their extended family visiting from Hawaii, and, as is our tradition, we will burn the log in celebration of being together, once again. We alternate every other year celebrating with this family at each other’s homes. This year, after a prime rib dinner with polenta and Jacksonville Inn carrots and homemade rolls made by the Darnall girls, and Ginger Pear Upside-Down Cake (recipe below), we will head upstairs to our fireplace and gather around the log and give thanks for yet another year of friendship and life. We will reminisce, the kids usually recalling their fondest memory shared with one another. Then we will burn the log with the aroma of rosemary filling the air.

I read about this idea years ago in a book, when my children were small. Traditionally, the Yule Log was burned on the winter solstice, December 21, and was brought into an outdoor clearing to become part of a great bonfire. Everyone would dance and sing around the fire. All the noise and great excitement was said to awaken the sun from its long winter sleep, hurrying spring on its way!

So, Merry Christmas from our house to your house!! And for all of you out in cyber-land who do not get our annual Christmas letter, the photo above is our 2006 Christmas picture of my husband Paul and I and our 3 children, Elliot, Garrett and Abigail.

Enjoy this tantalizing Ginger Pear Upside-Down Cake recipe that I will be serving with our dinner. It has a “not-too-sweet” pear flavor with a remarkable kick of ginger! We are a *pear* family and I recently purchased a BIG box of Bartlett’s up the street at Hillcrest Orchards.

Ginger Pear Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Leslie Mackie’s Macrina Bakery & CafĂ© Cookbook
For the topping:
3 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar1
½ tsp ground cinnamon
4-5 medium to large ripe pears, peeled, cored, and quartered lengthwise

For the batter:
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 Tbs peeled, grated ginger
3 large eggs
2/3 cup molasses
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil a 9-inch spring form pan, and line the bottom with a 10-inch circle of parchment paper.

To make the topping:
Combine 3 Tbs butter, ½ cup brown sugar, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Melt the butter over medium heat for about 1 minute; then pour the mixture into the prepared spring form pan, completely coating the parchment paper. Place the quartered pears on top of the butter-sugar mixture, lining the pieces up tightly in a decorative circle so that none of the bottom shows through.

To make the batter:
Cut 2 sticks of butter into 1-inch pieces, and put them in a large mixing bowl. Add ¾ cup brown sugar, and cream the mixture on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, until it is smooth and a pale tan color. Add the grated ginger, and beat 1 minute more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, beating on low speed and making sure that each egg is fully incorporated before adding another. When all the eggs have been added, slowly pour in the molasses and beat to fully mix. The mixture will look as though it is “breaking” or curdling, but don’t worry—it will come together when the dry ingredients are added.
In a separate medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to fully combine. Alternately add small amounts of flour and buttermilk to the batter, stirring and folding with a rubber spatula until the dry ingredients are just absorbed. Do not over mix the batter. Pour and scrape the batter into the pear-lined pan, smoothing the top with a rubber surface. The pan will be nearly full.
Carefully transfer the pan to the center rack of the oven, and bake for about 1 hour and 45 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the cake’s center comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Cover the pan with an upside-down serving plate; then carefully invert them together. Release the sides of the pan, and lift it away. Gently lift the pan’s base off the cake, and peel away the parchment paper. Allow the cake to cool for a half hour or so, and serve warm, with whipped cream.
Yield: One big cake, likely serving 10-12 people.


Elizabeth Leone said...

You have a gorgeous family (with obviously great taste in food - yum)! Thanks for sharing the wonderful Christmas photo and the rosemary/yule log tradition.

Barb said...

You are SO creative home-wise! You make it all sound so fun and easy too. Wonder if this would be a good idea for New Year's Eve too?

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and your family as well!!

Anonymous said...

What a nice idea! Hmmm...I have some rosemary in my yard....

I'm glad I found your blog, via Dee's. I feel like you've invited me into your kitchen for good recipes and fun. Thanks!

Sandy said...

I think you could do the yule log any time! The fresh rosemary smells so yummy.

Meg, I met Dee in Denver this summer at the ICRA. And her hubby!

Got my prime rib cooking right now! Rachel Ray would be proud :)

Emmie Johnson said...

I did not know that... Thanks for the info man...And also thank u for the SIMPLY yumm recipes!!