I had made the mistake of buying these absolutely GORGEOUS – but TOTALLY tasteless – red pears at my local market (lesson learned; it’s TJ’s, Whole Foods, or Sunset for anything more exotic than a table grape from now on), and was looking for something to do with the suckers, other than toss ‘em down Herman, our trusty garbage disposal.
Enter the nice folk at San Francisco’s Bi-Rite Market, via Bon Appétit magazine and epicurious.com. They provided this tidy little solution to my pear problem, and by chance dealt with two Jazz apples getting a touch old and wrinkly in the fruit bowl.
The Bi-Rite folk call this a caramelized pear cake, but, while I think the buttery, brown sugar-ry goodness that surrounds the pears at the bottom (ermmm, top?) of the cake is lovely; the use of powdered and crystallized ginger, along with a good dose of Ceylon cinnamon, makes this, for me, an incredibly moist spice cake.
•6 tbsp butter
•3 red pears, cored and quartered – the folk at Bi-Rite peel theirs as well, but I left the skin on and it was fine
•3/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
•1-1/3 cup flour
•2/3 cup sugar
•3 tbsp crystallized ginger, minced
•1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
•1/2 tsp ground ginger
•1/2 tsp salt
•3 large eggs
•1/2 cup vegetable oil – some commenters on epicurious.com substituted applesauce
•1 tsp vanilla extract
•1 tsp grated orange peel
•1 cup grated pears – I used those two rapidly aging Jazz apples
Preheat oven to 350º.
On top of the stove, melt the butter in a 10 inch oven-safe frying pan over low heat. Remove from heat and sprinkle brown sugar over the melted butter. Oh, heck, I just stirred it into the stuff, and all was fine. Arrange the pear slices on top in a sunflower design, with more pear slices, cut if needed, in the center to fill.
Mix the eggs, oil, vanilla, and orange peel together in the bowl of a mixer – I used the stand mixer with the whisk attachment and got it all nice, light, and frothy. Stir in the grated pear (or apple).
Add the flour mixture and stir to blend well.
Pour the batter carefully over the pears in the skillet (you don’t want to mess up your sunflower arrangement), and pop into the oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven to a rack and cool for twenty minutes.
Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen, place a plate over the skillet, and invert to turn out.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. OR – toss each slice into the ‘wave just before serving and add your cool topping of choice.
Similar to the sticky toffee date cake, but different.
And maybe… just a touch… better?