I used to be mortally afraid of trying too many stunts while baking and was obsessive about just the right measurements and following steps exactly and all of that. But, as I bake more and more and more, I’ve realised, that if your gut tells you to add molasses without specific instructions, or use more orange zest because your heart is showing you the way, or toss in ginger because the Christmas bells are going off in your head, you really, really should.
You guys, this is one of the nicest cakes to ever come out of my kitchen. It’s upside-down and not prettied up with frosting or anything, but it is delicious to the point of me wanting to bake it every single day. The flavours will give you all of the festive feels and it’s exactly what (almost) December calls for.
This cake comes from a recipe by Rachel Allen, in her book ‘Cake’. It has pears grated into it as well as sliced and spread on the bottom of the pan, before being topped with a rich, brown-sugar infused batter. They turn into caramelised goodness in a sticky toffee-like sauce which I could eat by itself, even if there was no cake in the picture!
Apart from all of the flavour additions I mentioned above, I reduced the eggs from 4 to 3, because excessively eggy cakes scare me off. I also omitted the caster sugar entirely, and used only brown sugar all the way. The molasses is optional, and if you can’t find it, just use more brown sugar instead. It does add a ton of flavour and richness to the cake though. I used Grandma’s Molasses brand, if you’re interested 🙂
The orange zest and ginger OMG. They’re what turn this into a gingerbread crossed with Christmas cake with all of those juicy pears. I made this for friends and family and they basically wiped the tin clean, I kid you not. It is moist, rich, just the right amount of dense but light and so incredibly good!
Eaten just slightly warm with drizzles of fresh cream, this is the only thing you’ll want to eat all season! Happy baking 🙂
- ¼ cup butter (50 gms)
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- 3 small pears
- 1 and ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 medium orange
- ¼ cup molasses (or brown sugar)
- Melt the butter and pour it into the bottom of a 9" cake pan, preferably springform for easy removal. Spread half of the brown sugar on top of the butter. Set aside and preheat the oven to 180 C.
- Peel two of the pears and slice them thinly. Spread the slices on top of the sugar butter mixture in the pan.I preferred to place a few slices in the center as well, not just on the edge, but it does make the cake a little harder to cut, so you can stick to only the edge if you like.
- Sift the flour and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir in the salt, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs and oil, whisking very well. Grate the third pear (with the peel but not the core) into the bowl. Use a fine grater to grate the orange peel over this mixture (don't grate the bitter white pith of the orange), then add the remaining brown sugar and molasses. Mix well. If you have any leftover pear slices from step 2, chop them up very fine and mix them in now.
- Fold in the flour mixture, till combined, then pour the batter over the pears in the cake tin.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool for 5 minutes and then run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake. If using a springform pan, remove the sides of the pan, then place a serving plate directly on the surface of the cake and quickly but gently, flip it over. Lift off the base of the pan slowly and you'll hopefully see the sticky pears all beautifully intact 🙂 If not using a springform pan, be even more gentle because placing the cake plate directly on the surface of the cake may not be possible, depending on the height of the pan.
- Allow the cake to cool for another 30 minutes or so before slicing it, because the pear slices make it a little fragile. Serve warm with cream!
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