It has been a bad day, and cake was called for…
A catalogue of mistakes, small injuries and things just going wrong culminated in me giving myself a minor black eye. It doesn’t look that bad – no-one’s going to think the Husband has started slapping me around – but it does show. I’m lucky to wear specs, they saved me from worse damage without taking any themselves. I’ll spare you the detail, but the corner of my eye had a close encounter with a large steel set square I use for squaring up my quilts. It’s designed for use by carpenters, and is very, very robust… So, the situation called for cake, the panacea for what ails me.
This is my Pear Upside-Down Cake, so called for a very obvious reason. And it’s extremely yummy; buttery and caramely with delicious wodges of pear on top that start life on the bottom. I make the same thing with pineapple, apricots, plums and rhubarb, also extremely delish. I had pears, so that’s what it was today. As always, it’s gluten free, but it would work perfectly well with ordinary wheat flour.
4 peeled, cored and quartered pears (Beurre Bosc are best for this purpose, but any firm pear will do); you can also use canned pear halves if fresh ones aren’t in season.
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 ¼ cups GF self raising flour
¼ cup milk
½ cup dark brown sugar.
Preheat oven to 170°C. Line a loose base or springform 24cm pan with strong aluminium foil, grease the sides. You need to make sure there are no holes anywhere.
First make the syrup by putting the butter and sugar and 1 tblsp water in a pan over low heat and stir till melted. Simmer until thickened slightly, then pour into the bottom of the lined cake tin. Arrange pears on top of syrup. If you’re using canned pear halves (and I often do), place them flat side down. Be careful, the syrup is hot.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars till pale and creamy, add vanilla extract, then the eggs, one at a time, scraping down frequently. Sift in the flour and fold in, add the milk, combine everything well. Spoon carefully over the pears so you don’t disturb the arrangement, and smooth out the top.
Bake for an hour or so. If it starts to get too brown, cover with foil. It’s done when it springs back when pressed gently with a finger.
Leave the cake to sit for 5 minutes or so before inverting onto a large plate. Gently and carefully peel away the foil to reveal the caramelised pears on top and the brown and sticky top of the cake. You’ll be wanting to scrape the gooey bits off the foil, I suggest…
Don’t be silly enough to wait till it’s cool. Eat it warm, with cream or vanilla icecream.
Black eye? What black eye?