When Bartlett pears are on super sale at the local grocery market, you buy them before you really process what you’re going to do with them. They’re just so delicious in anything baked! So yesterday, when I was walking out the door for work and I smelled my brown bag of pears, I knew it was just about time for me to make those pears into something delightful.
I’ve never made an upside-down anything before, unless it was a layer cake and there was a bad side I needed to hide, and this was quite an experience and really straightforward! Upside-down cakes apparently exist because of cast iron skillets and baking in them. Since I’m already obsessed with my cast iron (it’s stored on top of my stove because I use it essentially every time I cook), I figured, why not find another awesome way to use it? I found this recipe from New York Times (they have a Cooking section, what??) for Upside Down Almond-Pear Cake.
I don’t have a blender or a food processor, so I can’t finely grind blanched almonds. What I do have, however, is seedless almond flour, which is kind of the same thing if you finely grind the blanched almonds finely enough. I found the first part, preparing the skillet, the hardest part in terms of timing. I didn’t want my pears to brown before going into the oven, so I did the first half of step one (melting butter and sugar), then completed step two before going back to the second half of step one (peel/core/quarter the pears). The bad decision about that was I had to reheat the butter and sugar so that the pears could set in them.
Is the butter/sugar mixture supposed to be super melty or kind of liquidy or solid? Unclear. The mixture did come up around the sides of the cake batter once the batter was poured in… Is that right? This is only the second upside-down fruit cake that I’ve ever eaten… Any insight would be very much appreciated!
I think it turned out marvelously! I was very nervous about flipping the cake because cake-flipping is not in my practice and I typically fail (see the comment about upside-down cakes because of decorative necessity), but because my cast iron is kept well-seasoned and there’s so much butter that goes into the butter/sugar mixture, the whole cake just plopped right out!
The cake is on the denser side, definitely not a fluffy cake. I love the soft pear with the slight crunch of caramelized sugar and the gentle cake cushion that slows the teeth as they take a bite. Simply a delightful combination of textures!
I think next time I’ll use less sugar for butter/sugar mixture though, because the brown sugar is a bit overpowering and these pears were perfectly ripe–no need for extra sugar!
I have about 13/16 of this cake left… so it’s probably going to go to work with me on Monday. But you’ll probably only see half of the cake! 😉