Honey-Glazed Pear Upside-Down Cake

Here’s one from Sarandipitea. She’s usually in charge of the dessert section around here.

The flavors of this cake are sophisticated and it sounds very fancy, but it is very easy to put together.  We’ve also served it at potlucks, where it earned the less-than-appetizing name “raw chicken cake,” due to the orange-pink, translucent appearance of roasted pears.  (It tastes sophisticated, but might not look sophisticated!)  The taste, however, is totally worth it. Keep vanilla gelato ready on the side!

Ingredients:

  • ¼ Cup Honey (honey with a strong flavor works best)
  • 3-4 Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and quartered
  • A handful of thyme sprigs (dried thyme would probably work too – maybe a use a teaspoon)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tblsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup plus 1 tblsp melted butter
  • Sliced almonds (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a 9-inch ovenproof skillet (not nonstick), simmer the honey on medium-high heat until it begins to reduce, caramelize and darken in color, 6 to 10 minutes. Do not let honey burn; if it starts to smell burned, turn off heat.
  3. Arrange the pears in a circular pattern in skillet, close together and cut-side down , stem ends pointing toward center. Simmer over medium heat until they begin to turn golden, flipping from side to side, about 10 minutes.
  4. Flip pears over to their curved side and scatter with thyme sprigs. Transfer skillet to oven and bake uncovered, until very tender, about 25 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and the lemon zest.  Whisk in the egg and the vanilla. Fold in flour and salt; stir in the ½ cup of melted butter.
  6.  When pears are soft, remove skillet from oven. (careful! The pan is hot!!)  Discard thyme sprigs and brush edges of pears with the remaining butter. Pour batter on roasted pears and scatter sliced almonds over batter if using.
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cake cool for 30 minutes in pan. Run an offset spatula along edges of pan to loosen cake; carefully invert cake onto a serving platter. Serve warm or cooled.
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