Thursday, 14 November 2013
In the middle of making this cake for the first time, my mum's Kenwood Major died.
It was eighteen years old, bought when I was six. Mum taught me to bake with it. I can't begin to count the number of memories it features in.
It had been going slowly wrong for the past year or so, and finally gave up as I scraped down the sides of the bowl, declining to turn on again to finish creaming the butter and sugar. It went without a whimper or a bang, quietly, in great contrast to the racket it had started to make whenever you managed to twist and push the dial just so to make it turn on.
A few days before the mixer's demise, I came across this caramel apple cake. As I hadn't made anything with pears this autumn I decided to try making a upside down caramel pear cake. That recipe and most other similar cakes I've seen start with a brown sugar mixture on the bottom. I wanted to make one with proper caramel, lightly salted - a sort of tarte tatin/cake hybrid.
I adapted the cake mixture from my Pear and Chocolate Loaf as it's one of my favourites and I already knew it went well with pears. I tried three different types of pear: Bosc, Conference and Comice. Bosc was the best.
Despite the emotional loss of the mixer (and having to do the rest by hand), the first cake came out beautifully.
But then can you really go wrong with buttery salted caramel, tender pears, fluffy cake, caramelised edges and a spoonful or two of thick crème fraîche?
Finally, a quick little guide to fully lining a tin. I rarely think it's necessary to fully line (usually it's just the Christmas cake and similar things) but for this cake I wanted to make sure the caramel didn't leak out.
1. Take your tin apart and roll out some baking parchment. Use a pencil to draw around the bottom circle of the tin. Cut it out.
2. Align the side part of your tin with the edge of your roll of parchment paper. Roll the tin along the paper until you have a small overlap then mark the spot.
3. Cut a strip of paper that's a bit wider than the height of your tin up to the mark - for this, mine was about 4"/10cm wide as my tin is 3"/7.5cm. On the edge that was the outside of the roll (as this is always straight) cut little slits into the paper that are about 0.5-0.75"/1.5-2cm deep all the way along.
4. Flatten the paper and fold the tabs formed by the slits up on the side that was outwards on the roll (if the paper is put in the same way as it was rolled, it curls inwards). Curl it into the tin so that the tabs are flat on the bottom, then secure it with the circular middle.
Pear & Caramel Pudding Cake
For the top:
100g caster or granulated sugar
30g double cream
2 pinches fine sea salt
2 pears, just ripe, preferably Bosc
For the cake:
125g unsalted butter, room temperature
75g caster sugar
50g soft brown sugar
135g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of fine sea salt
2 tbsp unsweetened plain yogurt (or milk)
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Fully line an 8"/20cm* tin (as above).
Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the bottom of a large, thick-bottomed pan. Turn the heat up to medium-high and watch carefully - after a few minutes, the sugar will start to liquify at the edges. Don't stir it - you can flick some of the crystals onto a liquid bit, but don't fiddle too much. Once it's nearly all melted and starts to caramelise, swirl it all together. Keep heating until you have a deep golden-bronze colour. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream and sea salt. Quickly scrape into the case and spread out carefully so that it covers as much of the base as possible. It will become hard once it has cooled.
Peel the pears, then chop in quarters and core. Slice each quarter into three. Arrange on top of the hard caramel in a fan shape.
Cream the butter and two sugars together until pale and fluffy, scraping down occasionally - this takes about 5 minutes. Beat the eggs together in a jug. Weigh the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. When fully creamed, start adding the eggs, bit by bit, beating all the time (I keep mine on 6 on my KA). About half way through adding the egg, add a tsp of flour, then again towards the end, scraping down each time. Sieve the flour bowl into the mixer bowl then mix together on a low speed. When it has come together, add the yogurt and mix until combined.
Dollop the cake mixture on top of the pears then spread out into an even layer - it won't seem like much mixture but it's fine. Bake for 20-26 minutes until deep golden brown and a toothpick or tester can be removed cleanly from the middle. Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes then remove the side of the tin and the side paper. Flip onto a serving plate and remove the bottom part of the tin and the paper.
I think this cake is much better when warm or hot, so I recommend either eating it immediately or reheating it just before. Best on the day it's made, keeps two days overall. Serve with crème fraîche.
(Serves around 6-8)
Edit 24/10/15: I've changed the caramel to a cream caramel which solves the problems some were having in the comments below (which means the photo above is incorrect for the recipe, sorry). I've also changed the milk for yogurt in the cake.
*I've also started making this in a 9" tin - either is fine, though 9" tends to cook in more like 20 minutes.
Three more posts that involve making caramel:
Salted Caramel Brownies
Choco-Caramel Sundae Sauce
Cider Caramel, Sautéed Apples & Cinnamon Ice Cream