Pear and Cranberry Upside Down Cake

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It’s November and I just want cranberries in all possible forms. This cake has shot up to the top of my cranberry must-bake list. It’s the sort of cake perfect for a potluck dessert, a little neighborly love or just to hang out on the counter for a few days while I cut slivers at each pass. I believe the Thanksgiving crowd would be thrilled at the site of it! -Maggie

Fall is in the air, finally! Slowly, slowly, I’ve been bringing out my sweaters from their hiding places, laying out blankets to snuggle up in at night, and grabbing a scarf before I head out the door in the morning. The trees are increasingly bare and the sound of crunching leaves beneath my feet grows each day. This only heightens my dog’s zeal for the season, as leaves are the perfect earthy, musty bed for her to roll in. It seems we are both ready to embrace the change of season.

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Beside the leaves, the other highlight of the season is undoubtedly the farmer’s market. With so many ingredients on display it is clear harvest season is upon us. Lots of my favorites come out this time of year: the amazingly beautiful varieties of squash, the Jack and the Beanstalk stalks of green Brussels sprouts, Cape Cod cranberries, and apples for cider — a feast in the making!

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It’s easy for people to gravitate towards apples for baking but pears work just as beautifully. They have a gently sweet flavor and tender, silky flesh when cooked. They make a great addition when sliced and tossed in a salad raw, but are equally lovely for poaching, mashing, and baking. Buy them until your arms are heavy, pile them up in a bowl (or bowls), and you have a beautiful fall centerpiece.

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This cake feels, looks and tastes just like fall. The cranberries and pears are a perfect autumnal pair in this rustic upside-down cake. Reds and browns and golds glisten in the light caramel topping, and the cornmeal lends a hearty bite to the buttery cake beneath. It’s the perfect snack for a hot cup of tea and a chilly, fall afternoon.

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Cranberry-Pear Upside-Down Cake

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

For the Caramel Topping
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 firm, ripe Bosc pears, peeled and cored
  • 1 1/4 cup cranberries
For the Cake
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal (I love Gray’s Grist Mill brand)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Make the Caramel Topping
  1. Have a buttered 8” round cake pan prepared, and a wet brush by the stove, should crystals form while the sugar is boiling. Melt the sugar and water together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the sugar has melted bring the heat up to medium-high. Swirl to help the sugar cook evenly (do not stir!).
  2. Once the sugar has reached a deep amber color, add the butter. Be careful, as the butter will bubble up vigorously! Swirl to melt the butter, then pour caramel into the prepared pan. Let cool. Decoratively place the pears onto the caramel, cut side down, then pour the cranberries evenly over the top.
Make the Cake
  1. Mix the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in one bowl. In another, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluff, then add the egg and beat 1 minute to incorporate. Pour in half of the flour mixture and mix to combine. Mix in the buttermilk and vanilla extract, then add the remaining flour mixture. Evenly distribute the batter over the fruit.
  2. Place on a baking sheet and bake until the fruit is bubbling, the cake is golden-brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool 10 minutes then invert. This cake is best served the day it’s made.
Photos taken and styled by Linda Xiao.

Eat Boutique was an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista – an author, business guide and alignment seeker. After hosting retail markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie now supports entrepreneurs as they create values-based businesses through We Are Magic StudioFollow Maggie Battista on Instagram.

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