Friday, 24 June 2011

Topsy Turvy Cravings: Pear Upside-Down Cake

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I don't know why I always seem to make things out of season.  It's not intentional, but I do seem to crave certain foods more when everybody else in the world is ignoring them – maybe it's my affection for the underdog!

Anyway, for whatever reason last week I got a mad craving for pear upside-down cake.  I've never made an upside-down cake, and the most common one seems to be pineapple, which I'm not a big fan of (in things. I love it fresh), so it didn't make sense that I would want this specific baked good, but there you have it.  I'm just a slave to my cravings (and no, I'm most certainly NOT pregnant).

I think maybe one of the reasons this particular dessert was calling to me is the prettiness factor: after the peach tart I made, I was itching to do something else that involved spreading fruit out in a pretty pattern and baking it into something beautiful.  I'm usually the 'if it tastes good, who cares how it looks' sort of baker, but lately I've been needing some pretty in my life.

Anyway, reasons aside, I'm glad I made this cake.  I'm also glad I overdid it on the cinnamon, because the combo of the super-sweet stickiness (maybe a wee bit too sweet – I'll cut the honey next time) with the spiciness of the cinnamon was delicious.

Another reason to cut the honey, though, was the stickydrippy overkill.  Once flipped, this cake was seriously oozy, and the honey glaze kinda went all over the place:

I suspect if I'd followed the original recipe, using maple syrup (which we didn't have and costs an arm and a leg over here), it might have been thicker and not splooged so much.  But as it was, despite the cleanup issues, this cake was worth it all.  It was even better the second day, when the honey had soaked into the cake a bit and the pears had settled into their spots.  I'd definitely recommend this cake for a brunch or a tea party, just remember to serve it with spoons or forks, or risk sticky fingers all over your home!

Pear Upside-Down Cake
   adapted from a chow life

Preheat oven to 350F/175C and line an 8x8 baking dish with greased parchment.

In a medium saucepan, melt:
     3 Tbsp (43g) unsalted butter

Add and cook until sugar is dissolved:
     1/3 c honey (I originally used 1/2 c and I think that was way too much)
     1/3 c brown sugar

Bring to a boil and cook a further 2 minutes, then set aside.  

Peel and thinly slice:
     2-3 just-ripe pears (better too hard than too soft)

Arrange the pear slices in the baking dish, and when the sugar/butter liquid has cooled, pour it over the pears.

In a mixer or a large bowl, beat until fluffy:
     8 Tbsp (113g) unsalted butter
     3/4 c sugar

Add in and mix until smooth:
     1 tsp vanilla
     2 eggs, one at a time

Combine in a separate bowl:
     1/2 tsp cinnamon
     1 1/2 c flour
     1 1/2 tsp baking powder
     1/2 tsp salt

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in stages, alternating with:
     1/2 c milk (I used low fat)

Spread the batter carefully over the pears, making sure it's even.  Bake 45-50 minutes in the preheated oven, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Let cool 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges, set a plate or cutting board upside-down on top of the baking dish, and (carefully!) flip the whole contraption over so the cake comes sliding out onto the board/plate.  This may be messy, but it will be worth it!

Serve warm or let cool to room temperature.


  1. Mmm I love upside-down cakes and the nice caramelly parts. Your pears with leaves still on them are pretty, too!

  2. Thanks, Xiaolu! There's one left, but it's not looking so pretty... I might have to use it to make muffind or something.

  3. How about using it in baked pear oatmeal?

  4. Ooh, that's a good idea. I love oatmeal so much but I always seem to forget it exists!


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