Baking & Dessert

By Lindsay Hunt | March 23, 2011

Photo: Lindsay Hunt

Though I love to bake, which makes me similar to others who love to bake, there are differences in what we aspire to make. I don’t care about making pulled sugar to adorn my perfectly frosted buttercream cake, but I do care about making the best possible treat that can be.

I have a running list of baking goals to accomplish. On the list are goals broad bake with more whole-grain flours whole-grain flours and specific make Alfajores

One long time baking goal was to make an upside-down cake. Never a lover of the pineapple variety, I knew it would have to be something that showcased pear, my favorite dessert fruit. link to 3-16 pear scone post I found this recipe for Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake in Rustic Fruit Desserts Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More, a fantastically beautiful cookbook with ephemeral photography by the always talented Sara Remington.

Many might dismiss a dessert that combines chocolate with pear, as opposed to the more traditional strawberry or raspberry couples. However, I maintain that pear and chocolate are the best combination of fruit and chocolate. Pear is not too acidic, and it complements the dark chocolate flavor, and unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa. The caramel topping unites the fruit and cake with crisp shards of crunchy sugar.

I conquered more than just my goal to make an upside-down cake. I made caramel, a process I often shirk for a less temperamental sweet, and I learned a valuable lesson about upside-down cakes: do not use a spring-form pan. I did not think of this, and had to contend with leaking caramel and pear juice. Luckily I saw this before placing the cake in the oven, and placed the pan on a sheet tray. I love when baking and cooking forces me to problem solve. It makes it more rewarding, and definitely deserves a 2nd or 3rd serving….

From Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More

 

Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake Recipe

Servings: Makes one 9-inch cake

Ingredients

Fruit Topping
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored, and each cut into 12 slices (1 pound prepped)
Cake
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 4 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup (5 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (1 oz) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup (51/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk

Directions

1. Butter a 9-inch round baking pan. (Do not use a spring-form pan, because the caramel will seep out.)

2. To make the fruit topping, put the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan (one with a tight-fitting lid) and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then cover and cook for 2 minutes. (Covering in this way allows the steam to wash down the sides of the pan, which will prevent any sugar crystals from forming.)

3. Uncover the saucepan and continue to boil the sugar, gently and slowly swirling the pan as needed to cook the caramel evenly, until it becomes a dark amber color, about 13 to 15 minutes. Occasionally wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water.

4. Carefully pour the caramel into the prepared pan and allow it to harden. The pan will be very hot from the sugar so take care in moving it if you need to. Fan the pear slices on top of the caramel in a circle around the perimeter, filling in the center with the remaining slices.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

6. To make the cake, place the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat and melt, stirring occasionally.

7. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. Transfer the melted chocolate to a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and add the sugar.

8. Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.

9. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the milk in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

10. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cake bounces back slightly when touched. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a plate, leaving the pan on top of the cake for 5 minutes before you remove it. Serve the cake warm, topped with a small dollop of Chantilly cream or a scoop of Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

Storage: Wrapped in plastic wrap, the cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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