I have officially moved on to fall fruit, especially since my last couple of peaches and nectarines turned out to be flavorless and mealy. I always feel as though the stone fruit season is far too short. Don’t get me wrong, I like pears, apples, and the awesome citrus that we get in the winter, but I’ve always been more partial to summer produce.
I thought this cake was the perfect way to ease into autumn. That and the fact that I bought a large bag of pears that weren’t getting eaten fast enough!
Caramel Pear Upside Down Cake
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp. water
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 2 medium pears, any kind you like
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp. coarse yellow cornmeal
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt (not Greek)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8 or 9 inch cake pan. Line the bottom with a parchment paper round.
Make the caramel: Stir sugar and water together in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and let the syrup boil without stirring until it reaches a nice golden color. You may need to use a wet pastry brush to occasionally brush down the insides of the pot where any sugar has splashed up. When the syrup has turned golden, turn off the heat and carefully stir in the butter (the caramel will bubble up). Pour the caramel into your prepared pan and quickly swirl the pan to coat the entire bottom.
Make the cake: Peel, halve, and core the pears. Slice the pear halves lengthwise into approximately 1/8 inch slices. Arrange the slices on top of the caramel in the pan, overlapping as necessary.
Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Add half of the flour and mix on low speed until just combined. Add the yogurt, mixing on low speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the remaining flour, mixing until just blended. Pour this batter into a separate large bowl, and clean the mixer bowl.
Pour the egg whites into your clean, dry mixing bowl, and using the whisk attachment, beat on low speed until the whites are frothy, then increase the speed until they form soft peaks.
Fold 1/4 of the whites into the cake batter to lighten the batter. Pour the remaining whites into the batter and gently fold in until just combined. Pour the cake batter over the pears and smooth out the top.
Bake cake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes. (Time could be shorter if using a 9 inch pan)
Let the cake cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then invert onto a plate, scraping any caramel from the pan back onto the cake. Remove the parchment paper. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream (a little extra caramel sauce is good, too!).