Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gingerbread Pear Upside-down Cake

Yes!  A post!  I've been so busy lately with my dissertation, teaching, and job applications that I haven't had any time to think about blogging.  Cooking still happens though and we've been loving curries and all things with rice.  I think I could happily be a vegan if I ate vegetable jhalfrezi every day too.

So for Thanksgiving, some friends of ours hosted a vegetarian-themed potluck.  No turkey, but plenty of goodness.  It was the best tasting Thanksgiving I've ever had.  Take a look at this:

So very good.  Friends, wine, food, a great Thanksgiving.  Very tasty.

Back to the cake.  This is an epicurious recipe.  I was looking for an alternative to the pumpkin pie.  Well, not an alternative, we had pumpkin pie too.  Gingerbread is such a nice, festive holiday flavor.  Bosc pears give it a nice sweetness and different texture.  The best part is that you start out in a cast-iron skillet and end up in one too.  I guess maybe that's typical of upside-down cakes.  I've never been a fan of pineapple upside-down cakes, but this is really great.  

(the recipe calls for more butter and brown sugar but I made the cake for a test-run and the first time the topping was a little goopy. It's best to cut back on the butter and sugar)
2 1/2-3 Bosc Pears, sliced
1/4 stick of butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar (or really just enough to cover the skillet well).  

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 cup mild molasses
1 cup boiling water 
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened 
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Peel and slice pears, set aside.  Melt butter in an 11-inch cast-iron skillet on medium heat until foam subsides.  Reduce heat and sprinkle brown sugar over butter.  Cook undisturbed for 3 minutes.  Arrange pears on skillet and cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together molasses and boiling water in a small bowl. Beat together butter, brown sugar, and egg in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes, then alternately mix in flour mixture and molasses in 3 batches at low speed until smooth. 

Pour batter over topping in skillet, spreading evenly.  Be careful not to disturb pears, and bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
Cool cake in skillet on a rack 5 minutes. Run a knife around edge of skillet, then invert a large plate  over skillet and invert cake onto plate (just like what you'd do with a tortilla espaƱola). Replace any pears that stick to skillet. Serve warm or at room temperature.  We served it with fresh whipped cream.  Enjoy! 



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