Pear upside-down cake
Growing up, we had a pear tree down at the bottom of the garden. It has had various swings tied to its low hanging branches over the years. A shady haven over the summer, as the weather cooled it would become weighed down with fruit, so much that if you got the swing going back and forth fast and high enough you could shake the pears off. They made a satisfying thud as they hit the grass. I’m not sure that mum and dad were impressed but my brothers and I sure were. Sweet and juicy fresh from the tree, Mum would bottle any surplus pears each autumn, the tall Agee jars lined up on the top of the pantry waiting to be used in sponge puddings, pear crumbles and to top Weetbix or cornflakes for breakfast. Autumn has long been one of my favourite times of the year. The low light at the end of the day, the chill in the air and the warmth from the first fire of the season are all things I treasure. Pears are still one of my favourite fruits.
I love to bake treats for my family, to bring into work for morning tea, for visitors, or just for me! I think it is such a great way to show you care. This cake is simple to make, but looks impressive turned out and drizzled with a little caramel sauce. Served warm with lashing of fresh cream it is a perfect autumn treat.
50g (1.8oz) butter
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3 pears, ripe but firm
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup ground almonds
125g (4.4oz) butter, softened
½ cup caster sugar
½ cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Grease a 23cm spring-form tin, and line the base with baking paper.
2. Preheat oven to 170˚C (340°F) on Bake. Position a shelf in the lower third of your oven. The top of the cake tin should be in the centre of the oven.
3. In a small saucepan, melt together first measure of butter and brown sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for a further couple of minutes until the mixture has thickened. Pour into base of tin.
4. Peel, core and cut pears into sixths. Arrange the pear slices in slightly overlapping concentric circles over the caramel.
5. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda. Stir through the ground almonds. Set aside.
6. In a stand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and honey until thick and pale. Add vanilla, and eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
7. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on a low speed until just combined.
8. Pour the cake batter into the tin over the pears, smoothing the top with a spatula.
9. Bake for 40 minutes – until the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
10. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes until turning out onto a serving plate. Serve warm.
For extra decadence, top the cake with a little extra caramel just before serving. Serve remaining sauce on the side, along with some fresh cream.