When you go to the grocery store, you should never, I repeat NEVER, buy fruit unless you know exactly what you’re going to do with them. If you plan on eating fruit raw, it’s better to err on the side of caution, purchasing the bare minimum. For instance, my mom purchased some pears on a whim. Bad decision. They sat untouched in the fruit bowl for three or four days, before being evicted to the fruit compartment of the refrigerator to retard the ripening process.
I felt guilty neglecting these perfectly acceptable Bartlett pears, but the honest-to-blog truth of it is that I’m just not really a pear guy. I suppose it’s a decent enough fruit, but I’d much rather be biting into a crisp apple (ideally schmeered with a little bit of peanut butter or honey). Granted, my mom never really buys anything other than the basic Bartlett. Word on the street is that some of the other varieties, such as Bosc and Comice, are more flavorful.
Anyhoo, I had three ripening pears, and no real desire to eat them. So I decided I would use them in one of the world’s most adaptable fruit desserts—Upside down Cake! This cake is one of the best ways to use up fruit. While I personally enjoy it best with blueberries (in all honesty—I hadn’t made the cake with anything else until this point), I was ready to give the pears a shot.
This upside down cake is a pretty easy recipe, creating a wonderfully fluffy cake. I enjoy serving it with a nice Crème Anglaise or ice cream, but it could easily stand on its own. A lot of cakes (or at least their frostings) are far too sugary, but this one could easily be served at a breakfast or brunch.
Since I was dealing with pears, I decided to alter the recipe just a hair. Instead of granulated sugar, I coated the pears with brown sugar (light or dark) and a sprinkle of cinnamon (maybe a quarter teaspoon). This little change helped boost the fruit in the flavor department. In the end, the cake turned out alright. The pears were good, but next time I’ll probably try sautéing the pear slices to intensify their flavor. But on the whole, I’d say that these pears went down with some real style.
RECIPE FOR UPSIDE DOWN CAKE (serves eight)
1 Cup of granulated sugar
½ cup of butter
½ lemon zest
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
Salt to taste
1 cup of Milk (2% used)
Fruit of your choice (if larger fruit, cut into small slices)
Making the Cake
-Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (5 minutes)
-Add zest, vanilla, and eggs. Mix for approx. 5 minutes
-Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl until blended, then add them to the batter, alternating with the cup of milk (finishing with flour mixture)
Putting it together
-Preheat oven to 350
-Melt down ½ stick of butter to liquid and place it in a 9-inch pan, using your finger to spread it over the bottom and the along the sides
-densely pack bottom with fruit of your choice, then drizzle sugar on top of the layer of fruit
-Fill pan with batter
-Sprinkle top of cake with granulated sugar and the smallest pinch of lemon zest
-Bake in oven until the toothpick comes out clean (approximately 35 minutes)