A Cake For All Seasons. Hello everyone, I hope you are well. In today’s post, I will be sharing a recipe from chef Holly Taylor from Kindling Restaurant in Brighton, UK. Holly will share an easy-to-bake cake recipe with tips on adapting the recipe for each season, helping you make the most of the fruit that is in season at the time. The recipe is for Caramelised Pear Upside Down Cake. It is easy to make and looks great as a centrepiece.
Kindling Restaurant in Brighton 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.
A Cake For All Seasons
At Kindling Restaurant in Brighton, we constantly evolve 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 love it when I find an endlessly versatile recipe. Something that delivers on taste and texture but can be easily adapted to excellent new produce.
Towards the end of the Summer, I decided I wanted to put a cake on the menu, something 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 rich dark espresso.
This is the autumnal version of that cake, the 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
- Two 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 huge ones) at room temperature
- 150g gluten-free self-raising flour (you can also use regular 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 cut them in half, and remove the core with a melon baller. Slice each half of the pear lengthways into four equally sized pieces, being sure to trim off any details of the stalk or other less edible parts.
- Arrange your pear slices in a circle at 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 medium heat. As you heat the pan, the sugar should dissolve into the water, and the syrup should start to boil. You want to cook the syrup until it becomes a lovely deep caramel. 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 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 with a spatula. Making a gentle indent in the middle of the cake mixture will compensate for the rise. This helps make the top of your cake flat when baked, making it a better shape when you turn it upside down.
- Bake the cake in your preheated oven for 1 – 1 hour and 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, please 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
One of the reasons I love this cake is that there are so many different variations. It’s a great vehicle to showcase whatever fruit is in season.
In the autumn, it works well with both apples and pears. It will work exceptionally well if you choose a firm variety and a little tart, for example, a Braeburn apple.
I recommend trying it in the winter with 2-3 thinly sliced oranges or blood oranges. Instead of making a caramel sauce, you want to cook the orange slices in sugar syrup for 15 mins until the rinds begin to turn translucent – Put 200g sugar and 120ml water in a large saucepan set over 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 of 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 it 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 a winner and sure to be a firm favourite with family and guests.
I hope you enjoyed that.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Holly Taylor is co-chef and co-founder of Kindling Restaurant in Brighton. Kindling is about more than just 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.
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