pear upside down cake • room for improvement


Is Thanksgiving over yet?

I tend to live in my own little world and sometimes become oblivious to things happening around me. But yeah, the cut pieces of aluminum foil covering numerous trays of leftovers in the fridge and the crumbs of pie crust scattered on the kitchen counter are enough to remind me that this day of complete and utter gluttony has passed, as is the occasional tendency to burst out of my jeans.


Last Thanksgiving I made a pear upside down cake. I got the recipe from some well-known gourmet food magazine that I don’t remember the name of. Okay, that last part is not true. Of course I remember the name of the magazine. I only read it like every day of my life. The cake was okay…but okay is simply not good enough.


“Okay” means that there is room for improvement. You know…like when you got that B+ on a spelling test in third grade. Didn’t that just make you want to strive for an A+ ? Or maybe you were such a perfect speller that this is a weak argument because it simply does not apply to you. Well, hopefully you get my point anyways.


Improvement through repetition is a good thing and so I decided to try things a little different and come up with a recipe for a pear upside down cake of my own. I changed the recipe of the actual cake. This one also uses a clear caramel along with streusel that is layered in the batter to make it all even a little better…because you know, there is always room for improvement.

**Yields one 8″ cake. Store baked at room temperature for 1 day well-wrapped. Store fully baked and frozen for 30 days.**

Ingredients for Streusel:

3 oz brown sugar

1/2 C walnuts, chopped

1 T cinnamon

1/4 C pears, finely diced

Recipe/Procedure for Streusel:

1. Peel, half, and core pears. Place halved pear flat on a work surface and cut across three times horizontally, leaving 1/4″ distance from each slit. Make vertical cuts across the surface of the pear, leaving 1/4″ distance from each vertical cut. Begin cutting perpendicular to the slices made in the previous step to end up with small dices of pear.

2. Mix brown sugar, walnuts and cinnamon together by hand until all ingredients are well combined.

3. Toss pears into mixture and combine well. Set aside for later use.

Ingredients for Pear Upside Down Cake:

5 oz cake flour

3 oz AP flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

6 oz granulated sugar

4 oz brown sugar

4 oz butter

4 oz eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 oz milk

4 oz buttermilk

2 medium bosc pears

Recipe/Procedure for Pear Upside Down Cake:

1. Combine cake flour, AP flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together and sift them into a large bowl. Set aside.

2. Cream butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until mixture is cohesive, light, and fluffy.

3. Add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down sides of bowl once eggs have been incorporated. Add vanilla and continue mixing.

4. Switch speed on mixer to low. Add about 1/3 of dry ingredients into butter/sugar/egg mixture until batter takes the dry ingredients.

5. Combine milk and buttermilk together and add until it begins to incorporate. Repeat additions of dry and wet until all ingredients are fully incorporated into batter, being sure to end with an addition of dry ingredients. Set aside for later use.

6. Butter an 8″ diameter round cake pan and line bottom with parchment-paper round.

7. Peel, halve, and core pears. Cut pears lengthwise into 1/4″ slices. Set aside for later use while making clear caramel.

Ingredients for Clear Caramel:

4 oz granulated sugar

2 oz water

Recipe/Procedure for Clear Caramel:

1. Combine water and sugar in a pot. Remove lumps in sugar with fingers.

2. Bring water and sugar to caramel stage (sugar must reach a uniform golden brown (dark amber color). Remove from pan.

Assemble and Bake:

1. Pour clear caramel into prepared cake pan and swirl pan to coat round of parchment.

2. Layer slices of pear over caramel, overlapping them all around.

3. Place one-third of the batter on the bottom of pan. Sprinkle streusel mix over batter. Repeat layering of streusel and batter until both are used.

4. Bake at 350 F for about 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick that has been inserted in the center comes out clean.


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