I’m going to keep it short and sweet this week. I was hoping inspiration would hit and I’d be able to send you all a positive message of unity and hope before Thanksgiving. But today, I got nothin’.
It’s been pretty dark in this corner of the world for the past two weeks. The weather, shorter days and post-election mood have conspired to leave me feeling more than a little bit upside down.
So today, upside down cake it is.
I have faith that, as with so many things that seem undeniably bad at the outset, some good will come of our current political situation. Hopefully, the results of this election will spark a demand for greater equality and inclusion in this country and beyond. Yossy from Apt. 2B Baking Co. has put together a fantastic list of some things we can all do to turn our anger and frustration into action. So get to it.
In the meantime, cheer yourself up with a slice of cake.
Blackberry-Pear Upside Down Cake
- 1 ½ cups (10 ½ oz.) superfine sugar, divided
- 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- ¾ cup (7 oz.) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
- 3 large eggs
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 scant cup (4 oz.) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 ¼ cups (7 oz.) hazelnut flour (or almond flour)
- 2 firm-ripe pears
- 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
- 3 tablespoons apple jelly
Rum Whipped Cream
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 ½ tablespoons superfine sugar
1 ½ tablespoons dark rum
*Notes: I used Bob's Red Mill hazelnut flour for this recipe and I love how it turned out. (I have no connection to Bob's Red Mill, BTW. Just love this hazelnut flour!) Store-bought nut flour works best in this recipe because its finer grind gives the cake a lighter texture. If you're in Seattle, Dilaurenti carries an amazing (but pricy) Italian hazelnut flour that would be perfect in this cake. Another great alternative is Trader Joe's almond meal since it's quite finely ground.
- You can also make your own hazelnut (or almond) flour by placing toasted and cooled nuts in the bowl of a food processor or blender and processing until they form a fine meal. You will be able to get a finer meal in the blender. Adding a tablespoon or two of sugar will help keep the nuts from turning to nut butter. If you go this route, your cake will be a bit more crumbly than if you use store-bought nut flour.
- I call for superfine sugar because it makes for an easier caramel and yields a finer textured cake. If you can't find it (or don't want to buy a box just for this recipe), you can make your own following the directions here.
- If you use frozen blackberries, don't thaw them before baking. Raspberries or boysenberries would also be great in this cake.
Preheat your oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle. Lightly butter a 9-inch round cake pan with 2 1/2-inch sides. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper and lightly butter the parchment.
To make the caramel, bring ½ cup (3 ½ oz.) of the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, do not stir or your caramel could seize up on you. Boil, swirling the pan occasionally, until the caramel turns pale amber. Remove the caramel from the heat and add the butter. Swirl the pan until the butter melts into the caramel. Carefully but quickly pour the caramel into the cake pan, tilting it to coat evenly. Whatever you do, do not grab your pan by the bottom as it will be very hot! Set aside to cool.
In the bowl of an stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the remaining 1 cup (7 oz.) sugar until just combined. (You can also use a hand mixer or even do this by hand if your butter is soft enough.) Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the zest. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt. With the mixer at low speed, add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and work until just combined. Set aside.
Peel and core the pears and slice them about ¼-inch thick. Fan the pear slices over the caramel, leaving a bit of room for the berries to show through. If you need to, save some slices back to leave space. Pour the blackberries over the pears. Arrange any remaining pear slices over the berries and pears.
Gently spread the batter evenly over the fruit. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes. Invert the cake onto a cooling rack. Remove the parchment paper if it sticks to the top of the cake.
Just before serving, heat the jelly and water in a small saucepan over medium-low until melted. Brush the top of cake with the apple glaze. Whip the heavy cream, sugar and rum together by hand or using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature accompanied by the whipped cream.
Makes 6-8 servings.