Many moons ago, I think I mentioned that most Wednesdays I meet up for a coffee with a number of other parents from my children’s school. Yesterday was no different (though it was the first of the new school year)… hot coffees and teas sipped and relished, conversations criss-crossing the table, laughter permeating the air. Then, a wonderful surprise when John (one of the Dads) pulled from his bag a number of packages holding beautiful little pears, plucked from his tree at home to share with us all. The gift of produce or food is always something that excites me and that I’m truly grateful for. A couple of these sweet, ripe pears were munched as nature intended, but the rest were set aside in anticipation of making something extra delicious this morning.
There are days when I’m happy to just follow along with a recipe… it will usually be one that appears perfect as it is, requiring no tweaking whatsoever. Then there are days like today, when I’m open to a little experimentation, to see what may come… you just never know when you might hit on a winner. The flavour combination of pear, almond and olive oil to be transformed into a cake was floating around my head… and so this is what finally came to be.
A Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake that is beautifully moist and flavourful. The slivered almonds give the topping such a great texture, that match so well with the fruitiness of the pears. It doesn’t sit very tall… a little more like a Tarte Tatin… but presents wonderfully on the plate all the same.
My very sincere thanks to John for his delightful gift!
Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake | Gather and Graze
- 60g (¼ Cup) Unsalted Butter
- 115g (½ Cup) Raw Caster Sugar
- 3 Small Ripe Pears (Peeled, Cored and Quartered)
- 2 Tablespoons Slivered Almonds
For the cake batter:
- 125g (½ Cup) Unsalted Butter (Softened)
- 115g (½ Cup) Raw Caster Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 Free-Range Egg
- 100g (⅔ Cup) Plain Flour (Sifted)
- 40g (⅓ Cup) Ground Almonds
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- Pinch of Salt
- 60ml/¼ Cup Milk
- 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
I used a (23cm) Le Creuset cast iron braising dish to bake this cake in, though a similar sized (greased and lined) cake tin would work just as well.
To make the caramel:
In the cast iron dish (or a small saucepan, if you’ll be using a cake tin to bake in) melt the butter and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for a minute or two. Remove from the heat, arrange the pear quarters in a pattern over the top and scatter, between the gaps, with the slivered almonds. Set aside for the moment.
If using a cake tin, pour the caramel evenly over the base of your greased and lined cake tin and arrange the pears and almonds on top, as suggested above. Set aside for the moment.
Now for the cake batter:
Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and egg. Combine the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt in a bowl, then fold it in to butter/egg mixture in two lots, alternating with the milk and olive oil.
Spoon the cake batter over the top of the pears and using the back of a spoon or a knife, spread it over evenly to cover. Bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes until golden on top and cooked through. A good sign is when it’s just starting to pull away from the sides of the baking dish (or cake tin).
Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before carefully turning out onto a cake plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with some double cream on the side.