Seasonal Pear Upside-Down Cake with Maple and Cardamom

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Pear Upside-Down Cake with Maple and Cardamom

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.

Seasonal Pear Upside-Down Cake with Maple and Cardamom Pear Upside-Down Cake with Maple and Cardamom

Maple-Cardamom Pear Upside Down Cake

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6-8Source Adapted from Martha Stewart LivingPublished
Maple-Cardamom Pear Upside Down Cake

Ingredients

  • cooking spray
  • 2-3 small pears (small pears will be more decorative)
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (divided)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract tab
  • 2-3 tablespoon finely chopped candied ginger (or to taste)
  • ice cream (for serving, optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch square or round cake pan with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper, and set aside.

Peel pears. Carefully cut pears lengthwise and/or crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices and/or rounds using a mandoline or a very sharp knife. Remove any seeds or you can choose to remove the whole core on some of the slices if you see fit. Set aside.

Put butter, ¼ cup sugar, maple syrup, and cardamom into a bowl, Use an electric mixer on medium-high or beat well by hand until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Then using a small offset spatula, spread mixture into prepared pan.

Arrange the most attractive of the pears decoratively in a single layer on top of thee maple-cardamom butter mixture. You won’t use all the slices. Keep it simple or get creative. It’s up to you.

Whisk together flour, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in another medium bowl. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking. Stir in crystallized ginger. Gently pour the batter and over the pears, then carefully make the surface smooth with the offset spatula.

Bake in the heated oven until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Place the cake on a rack to cool for 5 minutes in the pan.

Run a small spatula or knife around the edge of the pan and invert onto a rimmed serving plate, leaving the pan on the cake for 5 another minutes. Carefully remove the pan. Peel off parchment. Check the arrangement of the pears and make adjustments if needed while the cake is still warm. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream (if using).

 

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