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.
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.