Sunday, September 27, 2009
This month I'm participating in Sugar High Fridays for the first time, which is being hosted by Alanna of A Veggie Venture. The challenge was to create a dish with a surprise inside, which really stumped me. I could not decide what to do - mostly because I was thinking inside the box and considering recipes with unexpected custards or fruits in cakes or muffins. I finally started thinking outside of the box and just decided to google strange ingredients to find out what I could make with them. Okay, not strange, but different from my usual recipe repertoire. I came up with recipes for tofu, cayenne pepper and stone-ground cornmeal, the latter of which I went with.
I ultimately chose a Pear Upsidedown Cake. I loved the description of a "crunchy texture", thanks to the cornmeal, but the caramel and pear slices also made it divine to photograph. I would add one warning: If you use a springform pan, make sure to put it on a cookie sheet (preferably covered in foil) before you bake. The caramel runs everywhere!
Pear-Cornmeal Upsidedown Cake
Adapted from Country Living
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 Bartlett pears, peeled, one sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces and the other cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornmeal, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
Sweetened whipped cream for serving, optional
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare 8-inch springform pan, and place it on a foil-lined cookie sheet.
2. To make the caramel: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat cook one cup of sugar, stirring constantly, until it melts and turns an amber color. Stir in two tablespoons of butter. Pour into the springform pan, and roll pan until caramel evenly covers bottom. Arrange pear slices and wedges over caramel in desired pattern, and set aside.
3. To make the cake: In a medium bowl sift the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt and set aside.
4. In a separate, large bowl beat remaining 3/4 cup sugar and remaining four tablespoons butter until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients a bit at a time, and mix until just combined. (Don't overmix or the cake may be tough.) Carefully spread the cake batter over the pears and caramel.
5. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until cake is golden and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool slightly before inverting cake onto a cake plate and carefully removing springform base. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a dollop of sweetened, whipped cream, if desired.