My inspiration for today's Baking on Friday was the fact that I had some pears sitting around getting overly ripe. I decided to make this cake that I've made many times before. It is a wonderful Fall dessert when pears are in season, but the addition of the spices that are usually found in pumpkin pie (nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and ginger) make it especially appealing this time of year.
The recipe originally appeared in the October, 2006, issue of Cooking Light magazine, which should be your first clue that it contains relatively little fat for a cake. The glaze sweetens it up enough for a dessert, but I think it would be good as a coffee cake in the morning if you left the glaze on the side for folks to use as they wish. I've served this dessert many times when we've had people over for dinner, and it is always well received.
Pear Upside-Down Spice Cake
For the Cake:
3 cups sliced peeled Bosc pears (about 3 pears)
2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons butter -- softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg -- lightly beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk
For the Glaze:
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
To prepare cake, arrange pear slices spoke-like in bottom of a 9-inch cake pan coated with cooking spray, working from the center of the pan to the edge.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 7 ingredients (through cinnamon) in a bowl.
Combine granulated sugar and 5 tablespoons butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; beat well. Add flour mixture and 3/4 cup buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spoon batter over pears; spread evenly.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool completely on a wire rack. Loosen cake from sides of pan using a narrow spatula; invert cake onto plate. Let rest 2 minutes; remove pan.
To prepare glaze, combine 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon water, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until butter melts. Stir in brown sugar; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in 1 1/2 tablespoons buttermilk. Let stand 2 minutes; pour glaze evenly over cake.
It's pretty right out of the oven, but it's even prettier when you add the glaze.
My notes about the recipe: Although the recipe calls for three pears, I usually need less than two. In today's cake, I used just one. When peeling the pears, they tend to be sort of slimy and slippery. More so than an apple. I get a better grip on them by holding them with a paper towel. Once the cake is in the oven, watch it carefully and don't over bake it. It tends to dry out. You want the pears to caramelize and the cake to be nice and moist for best results.