This weekend represents the transition between summer vacation and the start of the school year. It’s not the official change of seasons, but it might as well be. It is also when we switch from summer fruits to the fall harvest. Apples and pears are making their way onto the pages of instagram, but the summer fruits are still around too. This Pear Raspberry Upside-Down Cake is the gate between the seasons. It’s the best of summer and the celebration of what is to come this fall. You can certainly make this without the raspberries, but they really brighten up the flavor and add a pop of color, which will be so longed for in a couple of months.
I started by caramelizing the pears, as I would for a tarte tatin. Slow and steady is the trick to getting the right flavor and texture. If you cook the pears too fast they turn to mush without absorbing the caramel. I added a few raspberries for color and acidity. The brown sugar cake base is one I use from Dorie Greenspan, but I folded raspberries into batter. The combination of the caramel pears, the bright raspberries and the rich cake is pretty close to perfection.
I need to give Stephani Bloomquist a shoutout and tell you all about the page she set up, so that all of the equipment I use in my posts is gathered in one spot. You asked for it and she made it happen. It takes a village to bake, blog, video and do all that goes with it. I am super grateful to have her on my team! And, here is the page she set up. ZoeBakes Favorite Equipment Page!
Pear Raspberry Upside-Down Cake
12 small pears (seckel or summer crisp) or 6 large bosc pears, peeled, cored and halved (stems off, I just left them on because it makes a pretty picture) – THEY SHOULD BE FIRM, SO THEY TAKE LONGER TO COOK. If they are too soft, they will cook too quickly and not take on as much of the caramel flavor.
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup raspberries (optional)
Cake batter: Inspired by Dorie Greenspan’s rhubarb upside-down brown sugar cake in Baking Chez Moi.
1 cup (136g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) brown sugar, tightly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (make your own)
Zest of 1/2 orange
1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
6 ounces (170g) fresh raspberries
In a 9-inch pan (I used a Mauviel tarte tatin pan (note the one linked here is 11 inches), but a 9-inch Lodge cast iron would also work) melt the butter, sugar, cinnamon sticks and raspberries, add the pears and cook over low heat until they are caramelized. This can take up to an hour, depending on how firm the pears are.
To make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla and zest. Add the butter to the egg mixture. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions. Fold in raspberries.
Gently spoon the cake batter over the caramelized pears. Gently spread the batter over the pear, so that is covers the pears, but is not pushed down between the pears.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Let the cake cool for a couple of minutes before running a knife around the pan and inverting onto a serving plate.
Add fresh raspberries to the top. Serve warm or at room temperature. With or without ice cream.