Posted on | January 7, 2010 | 30 Comments |
Yay, I finally baked a cake! And it felt great! Now I kinda understand what they mean when people say stuff like baking is therapeutic (which I always thought was b.s.). There is something about mixing up a bunch of ingredients and shoving it in the oven hoping that something great is going to come out of there. You’ve got to get it right the first time, there is no patching it up once it is done, unlike most of my dishes. If something goes wrong, it is very difficult to salvage it, the main reason why I never got into baking in the first place. Oh, and the following of a recipe to the T part, not my thing either.
So why did I go and bake a cake all of a sudden? I have to blame all these holiday sale promotion offers which were filling up my inbox during the holiday season. What’s a shopaholic to do but succumb to at least one of those tempting offers. When I saw this hand mixer on a one-day sale for a great price, I gave in. It was too pretty to pass up. So I had to put that to use at least once to get over the guilt of an impulse purchase. As this first attempt was a success, I might just have to bake a few more things. Also the hand mixer is almost like a power toy, Siv is really into it so if I need some strong hands to kneed some dough, I have no more excuses. So watch out for some more baked goods this year.
Why a pear upside-down cake? I’ve always been fascinated by upside down cakes, the fruits make a lovely presentation, and I had a few pears to use up. After going through many recipes, I decided to follow the Pear Upside Down Cake recipe on Oprah.com for the basic cake part. My personal touches were the maple caramelization of the pears and the addition of the caramelized walnuts. I also substituted the cake flour with whole wheat pastry flour, just because that’s the only pastry flour I had at home. When you are talking about 14 tbsp butter and 2 cups sugar, I don’t think using whole wheat flour is going to make any big difference in making this a bit more healthy. I do like the crumbier texture of the whole wheat flour compared to AP flour though. I served this straight out of the fridge the first time around and it was a bit hard. Next time I heated it up for 30 seconds in the microwave and it was all soft again.
For the Caramelized Pears
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 3 pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 inch wedges
For the Caramelized Walnuts
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
- 12 tbsp butter , softened
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2/3 cup whole milk
Preheat the oven to 325°.
Make the caramelized pears: Place a skillet on the stove and melt the butter. Stir in the brown sugar and heat till the sugar is melted. Now add the pear slices and maple syrup and saute for about 5 minutes till the pear slices start to brown. Add the maple syrup and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes till soft. Pour the pears and the liquid into a large bowl and let it cool.
Make the caramelized walnuts: Add 1tbsp butter and 2 tbsp brown sugar to the same pan, heat till the sugar is melted. Add the maple syrup and bring to a boil. Add the walnuts and mix to coat well with the liquid. Cook stirring continuously till most of the liquid is gone. Transfer to a foil lined tray and separate the nuts with a spatula and let it cool down.
Make the cake batter: In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom powder. In a large bowl, place the butter and the granulated sugar and beat with the mixer on high till fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs, vanilla and ginger until well blended. Add the flour mixture and the milk to the large bowl. Beat on low just until well blended.
Coat the bottom of a cake pan with vegetable oil. Line the bottom of the pan with a parchment paper, spray a bit more oil to coat the paper. Arrange the pear slices in circles to cover the bottom of the pan. Scatter the caramelized walnuts on top of the pears. Pour the remaining liquid from the pears over this.
Now spoon the batter over the fruits and nuts. Spread the mixture evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake the cake for about 55 minutes until golden brown. A toothpick or a knife inserted in the center should come out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Run a thin knife around the edges to loosen the sides. Invert the cake onto a serving plate. Remove the parchment paper. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
This cake can be refrigerated for 2-3 days, just reheat the slices in the microwave before serving.
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