Monday, November 17, 2008

Maple-Pear Upside-Down Cake

This recipe comes from a cookbook I seldom use, Baking in America by Greg Patent. I used it only once in the past year, I believe, when I made Gingerbread Little Cakes. I don't know why I don't reach for it more often, I suppose I don't do that much baking.

Then. Then. Nicole posted a recipe request: Maple Walnut Plaits. And I was hungry. I wanted some of those! (go look, you'll want some too--I can't wait until she finds the recipe!) I was searching my cookbook collection for a possible match for Nicole when this recipe for Maple-Pear Upside-Down Cake caught my eye.

I have pears in the refrigerator, just waiting for something. Of course you probably know the pears were destined for a lovely Pear Pie. But honestly. How can I resist this cake?

It is fairly easy, a bit time-consuming, and I believe you have to use just about every size measuring cup in the set. I didn't quite have room for all the pear slices in the pan. My cake came out good, but at least half of the pears stuck to the pan. That's my excuse for why it doesn't look so pretty. It does, however, taste delicious. The cake is light and golden, and the pears mingle perfectly with the maple syrup. I can't wait to have another piece with coffee in the morning!

Maple-Pear Upside-Down Cake
Makes one 10-inch cake, 8 servings

Maple syrup, cooked down to a glaze and topped with fresh pears, becomes the "topping" for this twist on an old American classic. The cake is tender and delicate and low in fat. You'll need a 10-inch cast-iron or nonstick skillet.

1/2 cup pure maple syrup
3 medium pears (Bosc or Anjou), quartered, cored, peeled, and each quarter cut lengthwise in half
1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place the maple syrup in a heavy 10-inch cast-iron or nonstick skillet and boil over high heat until thick and full of large bubbles, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, and arrange the pears in the syrup in an attractive pattern. Return to high heat and boil until the syrup is thick and bubbly again, shaking the pan from time to time to prevent the pears from sticking. Remove from the heat.

3. Resift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, salt and ginger; set aside.

4. In a medium bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Stir in half the flour mixture gently with a rubber spatula until well combined. Add all the buttermilk and stir it in. Add the remaining flour mixture and stir only until the batter is smooth. Spoon the batter evenly over the pears and spread it level.

5. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cake is a deep golden brown and springs back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Immediately run the tip of a small sharp knife around the edges to release the cake (very carefully if you are using a nonstick skillet!!). Place a heatproof cake plate over the skillet. Invert the two, wait a few seconds, and carefully lift off the skillet. If any fruit has stuck to the pan, place it back on the cake. Serve warm (best) or at room temperature.

1 comment:

Happy cook said...

Wow that cake looks so yummy delicious.

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