This cake has been my go to cake during every Autumn season. It's such a stunning dessert and perfect for impressing dinner guests. You can substitute the pears for apples but I find that pears really are ideal. You can use pretty much any kind of pear as long as they are ripe. My kids love Bartlett Pears, so those are the ones featured in this recipe.
This recipe also allows a wee bit of customization. For Diwali, for example, we were invited to celebrate the Indian holiday with our neighbors. I brought this cake and made a sun design using the pear slices and infused the batter with cardamon. I also made an additional batch of caramel which I infused with cardamon and coconut. It was a huge success and I had many guests ask for the recipe. So feel free to add different spices if you want. The cake is great as is but adding some enhancements can be a lovely twist.
- 9" cake round
- parchment paper cut to fit the cake round
2-3 medium ripe Bartlett Pears (or any other pears you have on hand)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1.5 sticks), softened
Caramel (recipe follows)
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.75 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh or ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk or half/half
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1. Butter your 9" pan and add a 9" round cut out of parchment paper to the bottom of the pan. Then butter the parchment paper. Place pan on a cookie sheet. Set aside.
2. Make sure your oven rack is positioned in the middle of your oven. Turn oven to 350 degrees.
3. Cut your pears in half and remove seeds and stem. I use a melon baller. Works beautifully. Slice the pears and set them aside.
4. Make your caramel (see recipe below). Add 4 tablespoons of butter to your caramel bit by bit to loosen it. Then poor that gorgeous sauce into your 9" pan. DO NOT lick your spatula, as tempting as it is don't, you will burn yourself. I've done it...wasn't fun.
5. Arrange your slices of pear on the caramel and make sure as little of the caramel is showing.
6. Sift flour, baking powder and dry spices in a small bowl.
7. In another small bowl, combine milk, vanilla and fresh ginger if you are using fresh versus dry.
8. Set both flour mix and milk mix aside.
The Cake Batter:
1. Using a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, whip remaining 8 tablespoons of butter until pale a fluffy.
2. Reduce the speed of mixer and add the brown sugar. Continue whipping the butter for about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs ONE at a time. It is important to allow each egg to be completely incorporated into the butter mixture. It would be so much easier to do them all at once, I know, but you won't get the same result when the cake is baked.
4. While your mixer is running, alternate adding flour mix and milk mix until fully incorporated. NOTE: do not over-mix your batter, it will make for a dense cake. Just beat the batter enough to incorporate the dry and wet ingredients.
5. Using a spatula, scrape sides and manually mix the batter.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan gently spreading the batter evenly and covering all the pears.
7. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Until a toothpick comes out clean. Once done, let the cake cool for about 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Place your fabulous platter over the cake, grab the pan edges and cake platter together...take a deep breath and flip your cake over. It SHOULD come out smoothly onto your platter.
8. Gently remove the parchment paper and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
1.5 cups granulated sugar
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/3 cup water
1. Place all ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir to combine. Pour some water into a drinking glass and place a pastry brush in it. You will use the wet brush to brush the crystalized sugar that forms around your pan during the boiling.
2. Bring syrup to a gentle boil for about 7-10 minutes. Brush the sides if needed to avoid crystallization deposits.
3. When sugar syrup starts to turn a soft golden color, let it cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute longer and turn heat off.
4. Take sauce pan and swirl it so that the gorgeous amber color because uniform throughout the now caramel.