Maple-Cardamom Pear Upside-Down Cake. Is that legit? When I was growing up an upside down cake was made with pineapple from a can – usually with a Day-Glo maraschino cherry adorning the center of each sunny ring. To a kid like me, it was a marvel of a cake – full of magic and mystery. How could it be possible to get that glistening yellow and red design embedded into a cake? I’ll admit the whole concept still holds allure. But, as an adult I crave something that’s reminiscent of all that magic and mystery, but with a bit more seasonality and sophistication.
The season is set by the calendar, true, but the sophistication is up to me.
Well, it’s October. Would you like to slip into your favorite flannels, order a dozen apple cider donuts, then sit back and enjoy the glory of autumnal splendor? Are you ready to be dazzled by the changing palette of deciduous trees in blazing bloom? Yeah. Me too.
However, it may be autumn but I’m not likely to see any of that full fall color. I live in Los Angeles. That show just doesn’t play here. When we talk about fall color in Southern California we mean the bluest of the blue skies we see all year. So when it comes to something warm and familiar as a favorite pair of flannels I turn to seasonal fruit. We may not rake leaves but we do get excited by the apples, pears, and pumpkins that define the season.
Pear Upside-Down Cake
This is a blog, pumpkins have been covered. And though apples are quite interesting – I’m happy with my apple cider donuts. So let’s consider the pear for this post. It’s hard to resist a pear’s delicate fragrance: a mix of fruit and blossom. Like an apple, a pear is plump and round enough to sit in the palm of your hand. But it’s got a curvy seductiveness that separates it from most other fruit. We’ve all picked one up to eat out of hand – each tender bite melting into another. Pears have a subtlety that verges on sensuality.
However, when fruit is the only thing (besides a clear blue sky) that defines the season in your weatherless October – you find ways to make it special. As I said, an upside-down cake is full of magic and mystery. A Maple-Cardamom Pear Upside-Down Cake takes that magic and makes it miraculous. GREG
Baking Notes: This recipe was inspired by a technique from Martha Stewart. You’ll notice that the sugar and spice butter is not melted and caramelized as with most upside-down cakes. It’s whipped into a paste. This is partly because caramelized sugar would overpower the subtle flavors of pear and cardamom. However, it has an added benefit. The butter acts as a glue for the fruit. So my pear topping easily stayed in place while I added the batter.