Looking back, my first memory of pears was the canned version in heavy syrup from my cafeteria in the 4th grade. Miss Melodie, our treasured lunch lady, would dole out portions of these in little styrofoam cups as one of our servings of “fresh fruit”. While it could be hard to argue that pears soaked in their weight in sugar is considered “fresh” or even “fruit”, what I can say is that the silky texture and almost perfumed flesh has led me to be minorly obsessed with pears.
The blustery weather the past couple days (yesterday it is was 17!) led me to 1) break out my biggest coat, and 2) crave warm spices and rich caramel. To be honest, I think about caramel pretty much every day, ok every meal, but I digress….
After a quick browse of pear recipes, I stumbled upon one where pears were artfully arranged in a pan, blanketed in caramel, and then layered with rich spice cake. I was sold, and I think you will be too after a look:
The pears become translucent and melt-in-your-mouth tender after a 30 minute bath in caramel, and the warm spices complement the richness perfectly, not to mention this is one of the easiest cakes ever. Right, lets begin:
Peel and core 2 Bosc pears, and slice into 1/4 inch slices. Butter a 9×2 baking dish realllllyyyyy well, and arrange each slice overlapping in the pan, so the bottom is completely covered.
Into a saucepan over medium heat, melt sugar and water together until amber in color. Be super careful not to let it burn, because once it starts to color it can burn very easily.
Whisk in 4 T of butter, one tablespoon at a time until everything is incorporated and pour gently over the pears like so:
How gorgeous is that??
Now on to the cake. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or a hand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy.
Add in brown sugar, and cream until light in color and everything is smooth.
Mix in eggs one at a time.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
In another bowl combine milk and vanilla.
In 5 additions, mix the flour and milk into the butter. So add a little of the flour mix, stir. Add a little milk, stir. And repeat until everything is mixed.
Be careful not to over mix or the cake will be tough.
Smooth the batter over the pears, and pop in the oven for 30 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
Let the cake cool for a few minutes, and then carefully flip over on to a plate to reveal this beauty:
Just when you think it couldn’t get any better, we top it with a honey ginger whipped cream. Oh yes.
This is super easy, just whip cream using a beater until beginning to thicken, and add a little honey and a grate of ginger. Then whip until it holds soft peaks.
I’m absolutely in love with the combination of the warm spice cake and cool, lightly sweetened whipped cream. I’ve been really into food styling lately (yes, I may have created a Pinterest board dedicated to it), so I decided to give it a try!
What they don’t tell you is how much of a mess it makes! I’m still finding powdered sugar on my desk.. Oh well, all worth it for a good photo!
Upside-Down Caramelized Pear Cake (serves 8) recipe from here
- 2 Bosc pears (peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
- 4 T butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 t ginger
- 1/4 t cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 1 and 3/4 t baking powder
- 1 and 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 and 1/2 t vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350. In a saucepan over medium heat combine sugar and 1/4 cup of water. Don’t stir it, just let it boil until amber in color, about 8 minutes.
- When the sugar turns color, add in the 4 T of butter, one tablespoon at a time until smooth.
- Butter a 9×2 cake pan and arrange the pear slices in a circle in the pan. Pour the caramel over.
- Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or a hand mixer, beat stick of butter until light and fluffy.
- Add in brown sugar, and cream until light in color and smooth.
- Add in eggs one at a time.
- Combine flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, and cinnamon in a bowl. In another bowl combine vanilla and milk.
- In 5 additions, add the flour and milk mixture to the butter, start and end with flour.
- Spoon the batter onto of the pears and pop in the oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Serve with honey ginger whipped cream.
Honey Ginger Whipped Cream (makes about 2 cups)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 T honey
- 1/2 t grated ginger
- Whip cream until beginning to thicken.
- Add honey and ginger.
- Whip cream until soft peaks form.