Holly Taylor, Chef at Kindling Restaurant in Brighton shares a pear upside down cake with a Halloween twist
At Kindling Restaurant in Brighton, we are constantly evolving the menu to reflect whatever is local and in season. It’s a lot of fun but also a lot of work developing new recipes and constantly innovating. As a chef I absolutely love it when I find a recipe that is endlessly versatile. Something that delivers on taste and texture but can be easily adapted to wonderful new produce.
Towards the end of the Summer, I decided I wanted to put a cake on the menu, something that was special enough to be worthy of dessert – moist, dancing with flavour and comforting. A cake that would pair just as well with a sweet late harvest chardonnay, as with a rich dark espresso.
This is the autumnal version of that cake, perfect comfort food for those colder months. Rich and sticky, it is equally good served with custard, crème fraiche or ice cream.
Caramelised Pear Upside Down Cake
For the pears
- 2 large pears – we use Beurre Hardy
- 150g caster sugar
- 30ml of water (2 Tbsp.)
For the cake
- 250g butter, softened
- 250g caster sugar
- ½ tsp of concentrated almond extract
- 2-3 tbsp. of poppy seeds (these are optional but they add a nice flavour and texture)
- 5 small eggs (or four very large ones), at room temperature
- 150g gluten-free self-raising flour (you can also use normal wheat-based self-raising flour)
- 150g ground almonds
- 2 tsp of baking powder
- 30g whole milk (2 Tbsp.)
To make the cake
- Preheat your oven to 160C / Gas Mark 3 and line an 8inch / 20cm round cake tin with baking parchment.
- Peel the pears to remove the skin, then cut them in half and remove the core with a melon baller. Slice each half of pear lengthways into four equally sized pieces, being sure to trim off any pieces of stalk or other less edible parts.
- Arrange your pear slices in a neatly fanned circle in the bottom of your cake tin. Depending on the size of your pears you might end up with a few slices left over for snacking.
- Next make your caramel by placing the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed pan on a medium heat. As you heat the pan the sugar should dissolve into the water and the syrup should start to boil. You want to boil the syrup until it turns a nice deep caramel colour. You can swirl the pan during the cooking but don’t stir it as this increases the chances of the sugar crystallising.
- As soon as your caramel is the right colour, drizzle it as evenly as possible over your pear slices, then set aside while you prepare the cake mixture.
- First, cream together your butter and sugar using a stand mixer or electric whisk.
- When the mixture is pale and fluffy add in the poppy seeds and almond extract, then beat in your eggs one at a time
- Sift together your self-raising flour, ground almonds and baking powder. Fold these dry ingredients into the butter and egg mixture. Once everything is well incorporated stir in the milk.
- Spoon the cake mixture on top of the pears and carefully level it off with a spatula. If you make a gentle indent in the middle of the cake mixture it will compensate for the rise. This helps make the top of your cake flat when it’s baked, making it a better shape when you turn it upside down.
- Bake the cake in your preheated oven for 1 hour – 1 hour 10 mins until an inserted skewer comes out clean. If you’re using a sprung form cake tin, I recommend baking the cake with an oven tray on the shelf underneath to catch any oozing caramel or escaping fruit juice.
- Once your cake is baked, leave it in the tin until it’s cool to touch, then turn out upside down onto a plate or serving dish to reveal the sticky golden caramelised pears.
Adapting the cake to the seasons – read on for a Halloween twist
One of the reasons I love this cake is that there are so many different variations. It’s a wonderful vehicle to showcase whatever fruit is in season.
In the autumn it works well with both apples and pears. It will work especially well if you choose a variety that is firm and a little bit tart, for example a Braeburn apple.
In the winter I recommend trying it with 2-3 thinly sliced oranges or blood orange. Instead of making a caramel sauce, you want to cook the orange slices in sugar syrup for 15 mins until the rinds are beginning to turn translucent – Put 200g sugar and 120ml water in a large saucepan set over a medium heat; stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the orange slices (minus any seeds) and bring to a gentle simmer. Then layer the syrupy oranges in the cake tin instead of the pears.
In spring try using sticks bright pink forced rhubarb as the base. No need for caramel, just sprinkle the bottom of the cake pan with 30g of sugar and 15g of butter, then arrange the rhubarb before topping with the cake mix.
In summer this cake is fabulous topped with berries – blueberries and blackberries both work well and don’t require any caramel or added sugar. You’ll need about 400-500g of berries and it’s best to gently squash them into the bottom of the cake tin using a potato masher so everything cooks evenly.
For a Halloween twist you can use summer berry mix as the topping and add red food dye to the cake for a gruesome looking centrepiece.
Whatever the season or occasion this cake is winner and sure to be a firm favourite with family and guests.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Holly Taylor is co-chef and co-founder of Kindling Restaurant in Brighton. Kindling is about more than just the delicious food, it is a community of people: staff, customers and suppliers all sharing and celebrating local produce. Nature writes the menu as the seasons inspire the dishes. Kindling is featured in the Michelin Guide and is a member of the Sustainable Restaurants Association.