Maple Pear Upside-Down Cake
If you are looking for a less than traditional cake for your holiday table, or for any occasion, I highly recommend this. Mark Bittman is a genius, this cake is so simple and you really can’t go wrong with it. I originally made this cake for Thanksgiving, and since we were staying at my uncle’s house who is touring the States with Wicked, I threw all of the dry ingredients into a zip-lock before heading to Atlanta, not actually reading the recipe and the process of mixing the sugar with the butter before slowly adding the eggs and the other dry ingredients. That was my first misstep, the second was literally throwing it all in the bowl, no process, just plop. The third was not checking to see if my uncle had an electric hand mixer, of course he didn’t and all I had was a small wire whisk to beat it all together. My husband and I traded off the task, making the pain that came later a little less brutal.
Considering the fact that I don’t have much of a knack for baking, and the fact that I don’t really like doing it very much, I was shocked when the cake came out so well. People were asking for seconds after our Thanksgiving feast. So when I say you can’t go wrong, you just can’t, it could have been a total disaster and came out light, fluffy and delicious. Upside-down cakes are also great because the moisture of the syrup and the fruit at the bottom when it bakes, then seeps into the rest of the cake after you have flipped it over, keeping it from drying out. They are also so pretty, no matter how sloppily you arrange the fruit.
I felt like I needed to try this cake again, this time in my own kitchen, with a hand mixer and properly following the recipe. My husband and I had a pot-luck to go to for Slow Food Charleston, which can at times be intimidating, since most of the members are chefs, and though I love to cook, there is nothing professional about my cooking. Of course there is no way of knowing the success of your cake at a pot-luck, but by the time my husband and I left and went to get our plate, there were only a few pieces left, which can’t be a bad sign. I also have to say that having flopped the recipe on my first try, and followed it on my second, there was really no difference in consistency, so throw it all in the bowl, stir and pour the batter over the pears.
Maple Pear Upside-Down Cake from the New York Times
Time: About 90 minutes
- 11 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 3 to 4 pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a small pan over medium heat; add maple syrup and brown sugar and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook for another 2 minutes; remove from heat and set aside. When mixture has cooled a bit, pour it into a 9-inch baking pan and arrange pear slices in an overlapping circle on top.
With a handheld or standing mixer, beat remaining 8 tablespoons butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one egg at a time, continuing to mix until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture in three batches, alternating with milk; do not overmix. Carefully spread batter over pears, using a spatula to make sure it is evenly distributed. Bake until top of cake is golden brown and edges begin to pull away from sides of pan, about 45 to 50 minutes; a toothpick inserted into center should come out clean. Let cake cool for 5 minutes.
Run a knife around edge of pan; put a plate on top of cake and carefully flip it so plate is on bottom and pan is on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings.
One Year Ago: Spaghetti with Calamari and Artichokes