Pear Upside-Down Cake Recipe
We used William Bartlett pears that were just ripe. Very ripe pears tend to 1) disintegrate during baking, and 2) release a lot of juice, which can make the cake a bit soggy.
The cake is best eaten on the day of making.
We bake this cake in an oven with the top and bottom elements on and fan-forced function off.
We use a 20ml tablespoon and 250ml measuring cup for all of our recipes.
Preparation time: about 40 minutes (excludes baking and resting times)
100g (1/2 cup, lightly packed) brown sugar
About 520g (3 medium) just-ripe pears
166ml (2/3 cup) full cream milk (about 3.6 percent fat)
10ml (2 teaspoons) lemon juice
75g (1/2 cup) self-raising flour
75g (1/2 cup) plain flour
70g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) almond meal (ground almonds)
110g butter, softened
165g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature (we use eggs with a minimum weight of 59g)
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 degrees Celsius fan-forced). Adjust the oven rack to the lower half of the oven so that the top of the cake will be in the centre (not necessary for a fan-forced oven).
Grease the base and side of a solid base 22cm diameter deep round cake pan. Line the base and side of the pan with baking paper.
If you wish to use a springform or loose-based cake pan, you will need to line the pan with a large sheet of aluminium foil to prevent caramel from leaking out of the pan during baking. We use 44cm wide aluminium foil and mould it to fit the base and side of the cake pan ensuring that we don't make any holes in the foil.
Then line the base and side of the pan with greased baking paper, placing the greased side down so the baking paper sticks to the aluminium foil. This stops the baking paper slipping around when adding the caramel, pears and cake batter.
To make the topping: Place the brown sugar and 50 grams of butter in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the butter has melted and the mixture bubbles. Remove from the heat, pour over the base of the lined cake pan, and spread out with the back of a spoon or a heatproof spatula (it doesn't matter if the layer is a bit uneven or doesn't go right to the edge of the pan).
Peel the pears. Cut pears into quarters and remove the cores. Slice each quarter lengthways into three. We use 340 grams of pear slices. If you have much more than 340 grams, we recommend just eating the extra pear as using a lot of pear can make the cake soggy. Cover the butter/sugar mixture with a layer of pear slices.
Combine milk and lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside (after about five minutes the milk will look curdled).
Place self-raising flour, plain flour and almond meal in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Use the back of the spoon to squash any lumps of almond meal.
Using an electric mixer or electric hand-held beaters, beat the butter, caster sugar and vanilla together until pale and creamy (about five minutes). Stop the machine once or twice during beating and use a spatula to scrape down the side and base of the bowl.
Add one egg and beat for about one minute. Use a spatula to scrape down the side and base of the bowl. Repeat with remaining egg (the mixture may appear curdled at this stage).
Add combined flour and almond meal to the butter mixture. Using a spatula or spoon, gently fold ingredients together until just combined.
Add milk and lemon mixture to the bowl. Stir with a spoon/spatula or beat with the mixer on very low speed until the ingredients are combined. Stop mixing as soon as the ingredients are combined as over-beating the batter may cause the cake to be tough.
Dollop the batter over the pears.
Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, gently spread batter evenly over the pears.
Bake for about 50-60 minutes. If the top of the cake starts to overbrown but the cake is not cooked through, cover with a piece of baking paper. When the cake is ready, the top should be a golden colour and the cake will spring back when lightly pressed in the centre. A thin-bladed knife or wooden skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out without gooey batter attached.
Allow cake to cool in pan for 10 minutes.
Invert cake onto a serving plate and serve warm or at room temperature, on its own or with cream and/or ice cream.
Best eaten on day of making. Store in an airtight container. In hot weather, or if keeping for more than a day, we store the cake in the refrigerator.