This time of year apples get a lot of attention. Social media is full of pictures of families out apple picking and there are a million apple recipes being shared. Apples are great. Sweet/sour and crisp and so versatile to cook with. But let’s stop overlooking another wonderful fall tree fruit – the pear. Pears are one of my favourite fruits. And, the truth is, they can go just about any place an apple can. they are wonderful in muffins and loaves and baked pears are amazing. And if you’ve never had a poached pear you really need to.
I spotted bags of Bartlett pears at my local grocery store the other day and they looked too good, and were too good of a price to pass up. We’ve just been eating them raw the past couple of days, because they are perfect just as they are. But because theses pears were perfectly ripe when I bought them they only have so much time before they start to go to the other side so I wanted to use them in a recipe before that happens. I had a hard time deciding if I should do something sweet or savoury with the pears because they work so well either way (check out my Baked Brie and Pear recipe). I thought maybe something warm and saucy would be perfect for the cooler fall weather we are having and this Caramel Upside Down Cake fit the bill perfectly. When we were eating it my husband and I both agreed it reminded us of our childhood and those cake and sauce mixes our mothers would buy – only this was much better and with real fruit!
A couple of notes:
- I used Bartlett pears for this recipe because that’s what I had on hand. A Bosc would work well too.
- I used a 10 inch cast iron pan but if you don’t have one that’s ok. You can easily use a regular sauce pan to cook the sauce at the beginning of the recipe and then transfer to a round cake pan.
Caramel Pear Upside Down Cake
Sauce (and pears):
- 1/2 cup of butter
- 3/4 cup of brown sugar
- 4 pears, peeled, halved and cored
- coarse salt
- 2 cups of flour
- 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
- 1/2 cup of butter, softened
- 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp of vanilla
- 1 cup of milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Over medium heat, melt the butter in your skillet (or sauce pan if not using a skillet).
- Once butter is melted add the brown sugar. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture is hot and foamy. Cook for about 3 minutes after that.
- Remove from heat.
- Place the pear halves, cut side down in the caramel mixture.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon and coarse salt to taste.
- Set aside while make the cake batter.
- In a small bowl stir together the flour and the baking powder. Set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl cream the butter and sugar together with a hand mixer until fluffy. You can use a stand mixer for this if you prefer.
- Beat in the eggs, milk and vanilla.
- Add the flour mixture and mix just until it is well combined.
- Scoop the batter by spoonfuls over the pears and spread until even(ish)
- You don’t need to cover the entire pan or even every bit of the pear as the cake will spread as it cooks.
- Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the edges are nice and brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Let cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before inverting. If the cake is touching the sides the sides of the pan run a knife around the edges to loosen it before inverting.
- This is delicious served warm and a scoop of vanilla ice cream would be divine!