Pear Raspberry Upside-Down Cake

Pear Raspberry Upside-Down Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

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 tart 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. You can watch me make this start to finish in my instagram video.

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! We’ll be adding and organizing, but here’s the start:

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Black Velvet Apricot Upside-down Cake (Gluten Full and Gluten-Free Versions)

Black Velvet Apricot Cake | ZoeBakes

Recently I stopped at Whole Foods to pick up some stinky cheese and taste-test all their gluten-free crackers, for research. On the way to the cheese counter these velvety little apricots shouted across the room at me and I was powerless over their beauty. I am a little embarrasses to say that I wasn’t familiar with Black Velvet Apricots, which have the deep color of plums, the lusciously soft skin of a peach and the glorious flavor or an apricot. What will nature think of next? I have seen them in other stores recently, but none are as deep in color or as juicy as the ones that Whole Foods is sourcing. These came from California, because nothing this gorgeous, ripe and flavorful is being grown locally, yet. The growing season here in Minnesota is just in its first days. Maybe come August we’ll be plucking fruit from trees.

I am not gluten-free, as you may have guessed from the content of this blog, but I am doing more and more g-f baking. I have several friends who are celiac or have gluten sensitivities, so I’ve been experimenting with making tasty treats for them. I dove into the mysterious world of g-f baking when we decided to add gluten-free breads to our books. As a baker it was like being blind folded and set into a pantry of products I ‘d never used before. Just the kind of challenge I love. Once the terror subsided I realized that this stuff can be just as easy and tasty as baking with wheat. I have been passing off breads, cakes, cookies and more to my family, none of whom need to eat a gluten-free diet. If they can’t tell the difference, then I know I’ve got this down, because they are super critical of everything I make. I’ve spoiled them.

The cake is inspired by one of my favorite pastry chefs, Karen DeMasco. The upside-down cake is a classic for good reason, but she has made it even richer with almond flour and lots of brown sugar. I’ve made some changes to her recipe, but the essence is still hers. This is one of the few recipes I’ve made, so far, that is an easy switch from gluten full to gluten-free, in fact it is exactly the same recipe. I used the Thomas Keller product Cup 4 Cup All-purpose Flour for this cake. I really like this product for this cake, but find it doesn’t work so well in many of my bread recipes. The only problem with this flour is the price, but it is worth it for something so delicious and you could never buy this cake for so little money. This is how I justify it to myself.

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Cranberry-Raspberry Upside Down Cake

upside down cake

The color of this cake alone is enough to bring me great joy these days. It is snowing here in MN, which is a blessing and a curse. Snow is a blessing, because it brings new life to the cold and allows my boys to go snowboarding and sledding in the evenings. It’s also a beautiful blanket over all that was gray just yesterday. There is nothing worse than a winter in MN without snow. The cold, dark, seemingly endless season would be unbearable without it. The curse of snow, is that it is…well…cold and I am not a fan of cold. But, I digress.

snow

The cake’s ruby top is a mixture of tart cranberries and sweet raspberries (my son’s suggestion, after tasting the ALL cranberry version, which he found too tart). The Raspberries both sweeten the cake and also creates a more luscious texture. I personally love the tartness of the cranberries alone, but they have so much natural pectin that the consistency was more like tight jam then I wanted. The cake underneath is rich with butter and almond flour. I served it with ice cream for dessert and then had it for breakfast the next morning with coffee.  (more…)

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Peach Upside-down Cake

There is nothing sexier than a perfectly ripe peach and nothing more disappointing than one that is subpar. I find the former more difficult to lay my hands on than the latter, but it is worth the hunt and the wait to get one. It seems that peaches have good seasons and bad ones, it is the entire crop that is either smooth, juicy, sweet and floral or they are mealy and have no discernible taste or smell. Folks, this seems, at first examination, to be one of those prized peach years. I admit mine were not local, just a seductive flat from costco. I even bought it when the peaches were still too firm to know what they would amount to. After a couple of days on the counter I could smell them from across the room and they begged to be eaten. My son dove in first and I immediately sent him out the back door to finish up the slurping in the yard because my kitchen floor was getting sticky from peach juice. Eureka, it is going to be a good summer! The entire case ripened at once and we were eating them as fast as we could. I put them in cereal, in salads, in yogurt, on ice cream and sliced them up and tossed them in this ginger spiked upside-down cake. I’ve made 3 of these cakes since the first one came out of the oven, it is THAT good! (more…)

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Sneak Peek: Tilia’s Summer Dessert Menu!

Strawberry Fool with Frambois Lambic Foam

The moment has come to switch from the cool weather comfort-food dessert menu and embrace the heat of summer with some cool treats. Here is a teaser of what we’re working on, which we hope to launch next weekend! There will be a few flourishes (not captured in these photos), so you will have to come taste the final unveiling at Tilia! (more…)

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