As this post publishes, I should be about 10,000m in the air. On a plane, obviously. Specifically on a plane somewhere between Sydney and Heathrow. Which doesn’t really narrow things down much. And actually, my exact geographical location is largely irrelevant – the point is that I’m off to Edinburgh for a month. It won’t really be a holiday, but I’m still excited to see my mum and family. I’m just hoping that the UK’s sudden recent bout of real summer carries on whilst I’m there. Whatever the weather, posts are likely to be even more sporadic than they currently are.
Going away for a month means having a serious fridge and pantry clear out. I had done a rather good job of using up all my perishables without having to resort to any bizarre combinations, but still had a few nashi pears (aka Asian pears) kicking around. Since I had more nashi pears than days left to eat them in and I knew that my housemates wouldn’t eat them, I decided to bake with them (big surprise there…). I happened across a nashi pear and ginger upside-down cake recipe which, aside from making me salivate, also called for 200g of yoghurt, which is precisely how much I had left in the fridge. A clear sign from the, uhm, pantry gods (uhm, yeah…), that this recipe just had to be tested.
I adore the combination of pear and ginger, and nashi pears are no exception. Like any decent upside-down cake, the sides go a little crispy and all caramely and delicious. The cake itself is basically gingerbread, which to me just smacks of a perfect winter treat. The slice that was missing by the time the cake got to the lab was obviously an offering of thanks to the pantry gods and nothing at all to do with my breakfast. I mean really, who would ever eat cake for breakfast? Definitely not me, nope.
Nashi pear & ginger upside-down cake
Adapted from Anna Eats Auckland
This would work equally well with normal pears or even apples (choose a variety of pear or apple with pretty firm flesh so that they keep their shape and don’t go all mushy). The Chelsea golden syrup here in NZ seems to be a little richer in flavour than that in the UK, so if you’re using Lyle’s perhaps think about substituting a little bit of the golden syrup for treacle. I prefer eating the cake the next day so that the caramel can soak in, but it’s also delicious served warm, perhaps accompanied by a scoop of ice cream. The cake will keep for a couple of days in an airtight container.
For the cake:
125g unsalted butter
300g all-purpose flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
250ml (340g) golden syrup (not the easy-pour stuff)
175g light brown sugar
200g plain Greek-style yoghurt (normal would be fine, too)
75g crystallised ginger
For the caramel:
100g unsalted butter
125g light brown sugar
3 medium or 2 large nashi pears
To make the cake:
1. Line the bottom of a deep 24cm round cake tin (mine is 5cm deep). Line a baking tray larger than the cake tin with tin foil. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C.
2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Take it off the heat as soon as it is melted. Meanwhile, sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt into a medium mixing bowl and stir together.
3. Add the sugar, golden syrup, eggs and melted butter (you’ll need to melt more butter later so save yourself some washing up by re-using the same saucepan) into a large mixing bowl and whisk together until smooth. Fold in the dry ingredients with a metal spoon until just combined. Roughly chop the crystallised ginger, add to the batter with the yoghurt and stir until combined.
To make the caramel:
4. Add the sugar and butter to the small saucepan from earlier and melt together over a low heat until smooth. Meanwhile, peel and core the nashi pears. Slice medium-sized pears into eights or large pears into twelfths.
5. Pour the melted caramel into the prepared cake tin. Arrange the pear slices over the caramel and then carefully pour and spread the cake batter over the top. Place on the prepared baking tray (this will catch any caramel that might bubble over) and bake for 55-65 mins until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
6. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 mins before turning out onto a serving plate. Serve warm or room temperature.