Home Beccanomics: Pear Upside Down Buttermilk Cake

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A little something baked for the special people in our lives that help us get through our daily activities with far greater ease. A and I made two upside down cakes last week, pear for his colleagues and pineapple for the non-academic staff being honoured with a staff appreciation tea in my school! I think the pear version was a tad bit more successful because it could be cut with a little more ease. This was great fun to make, especially since my handheld whisk broke down midway…still, it turned out pretty well particularly when paired with a generous scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. The buttermilk gives the cake a lovely lift and nice crumb. Fingers are itching to make another one soon, so a trip to Phoon Huat is in order! Flavour pairings please?

Pear Upside Down Cake
Adapted from David Lebovitz

For the topping:

1/2 cup (125ml) packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter
1 can (875g) pears in light syrup
1/4 tsp cinnamon

For the cake:

115g unsalted butter
3/4 cup (150g) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1.5 cups (210g) plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
125ml buttermilk, shaken before use

1. Make the topping: Melt butter in a pan over low-med heat. Add cinnamon and sugar and stir continuously, until sugar has dissolved and mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat and let cool for approx. 10 minutes, then transfer to cake tin to cool further.

2. Preheat the oven to 190 deg C. Make the cake: beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beating after each addition until smooth. Add vanilla.

3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Incorporate the flour in 3 additions and buttermilk in 2 additions to the butter mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix!

4. Caramel should be cool by now. Drain pears of syrup, and slice into wedges. Arrange on top of the caramel mixture, being careful not to poke the mixture as it can still be quite soft.

5. Pour batter into the pan, spreading evenly over the fruit. Batter should be rather viscous and will need to be smoothened out.

6. Bake for 1 hour. Cake should start to brown at the sides. Remove from oven and let cool for about half an hour. Then, using oven mitts, place a plate over the top of the pan and flip the cake tin. Be careful as the caramel might leak out, and is very hot. I lined my plate with aluminium foil to prevent an ensuing caramel tsunami.

7. Slice cake and serve warm with a generous scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream, or whipped cream. Dust with icing sugar if preferred. Enjoy!

David Lebovitz also notes that the cake can be made in advance, and rewarmed using a microwave right before serving. Enjoy!

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