Sunday, October 22, 2006

Pear and Ginger Upside-Down Cake

My sister-in-law came over for dinner with her new boyfriend. She often brings a new special friend over to meet us first- before she brings him home to the parents. This is wise, I believe. It gives the boy an opportunity to meet some family, with out the hardcore question and answer that comes with meeting a girl's parents for the first time. My husband and I question the fella in a kind, but probing way, then are required to report back to my mother-in-law with any information worth repeating. In this case, I really liked the boy who came to dinner. I think they make a good match. I never know what to make for New Boyfriend. I wanted he and SIL to feel comfortable and have a good time. There were initial fears that NB didn't like soy sauce. This would be a big problem in our family. But he is fine, no apparent eating issues. So what did I make? I roasted a chicken, of course! Who doesn't like a roasted chicken in October, with potatoes for god's sake! So dinner was taken care of, what about dessert? I had ripped out this recipe from Sunset magazine in November 2004, and tucked it into my "things I'd like to make at some point" file. I took this new boyfriend opportunity to make it. It was certainly a fall dessert. Very gingerbread-y, the pears are pretty, but didn't seem to add much flavor. I served it with whipped cream, but vanilla ice cream would have been nice too.

Pear and Ginger Upside-Down Cake

2 tbs. plus 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3 tbs. chopped crystallized ginger
2 firm-ripe bosc pears (1 lb. total)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
2 large eggs
3/4 cup dark molasses
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan that is atleast 2 1/2 inches tall. Line pan with a 10 inch round of cooking parchment, pressing into the bottom of the pan and up the sides about 1/2 inch. Cut 2 tbs. butter until about 1/4 inch chunks and drop evenly over parchment in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup brown sugar and the crystallized ginger.
Peel pears and cut in half lengthwise, then slicing parallel to cut edge, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices. With a small knife, cut core from each slice. Arrange slices flat in a single layer, over sugar mixture in pan, trimming pieces as needed to fit.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and allspice.
In another bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat remaining 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup brown sugar until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in molasses.
Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, beating until incorporated, then beat on high speed just until well blended. Pour batter over pears.
Bake in a 325 degree regular, or 300 degree convection oven until a toothpick inserted in center (not in fruit, the recipe reminds us) comes out clean, 1 hour AND 35-40 minutes. Center may settle slightly. Let cool in pan 20 minutes. Remove pan sides. Invert a platter over cake, then holding the two together, invert again. Carefully remove pan bottom and parchment. Make real whipped cream from whipping cream, and serve cake with a dollop of whipped cream.

Some thoughts:
It would have been easier to keep the 2 tbs. of butter cold, then cut them into 1/4 inch chunks.
For the pears, I cut them lengthwise slightly off center to keep the stem in place, then used my melon-baller to scoop out the core. I patched in the hole with scrap pieces of pear. You'd never guess it was patched in after it was baked.
When I first read the recipe I thought, "Oh good, this bakes in 35-40 minutes. I'll have plenty of time to roast the chicken afterwards." I was wrong. And then my meat thermometer is broken...
The magazine says, "Leave the stem on one slice of pear for an artful presentation". My husband asked if there was a stick in the cake. You make the call on your own cake.


Tasha said...

Holy crap that looks delicious! You are quite a cook.

Aundra said...

I thought I should report that NB ate the piece of cake I brough home to MY house as well as the piece he got. I think that whole "A way to a man's heart if his stomic" thing might be the real reason I bring the NBs to your house!

Meme said...

I heard from your mom that he doesn't like chicken. Who doesn't like chicken?

Tasha said...

Oh my God, that is exactly what I said to her. Chicken is like the universal meat. She said, "It makes him gassy," and then proceeded to describe this condition. Which is gross. And weird.

AJ said...

OK since I'm referred to as NB which could mean newbee (eg amateur), new boy, or not bad among many others that I could think of I think I have the right to respond in defense of myself regarding the soy sauce and chicken issues. 1) I don't dislike soysauce at all, I do however dislike those who use it as a there primary and (typically) singular seasoning on food - how about pepper or maybe rosemary....2) I don't dislike chicken, I have been told that other meats are better for my blood type, AB I actually like chicken, especially fried or out of a box....or bucket for that matter. Oh and thank you for very nice dinner and the cake which obviously I thought was great!