Last week was Easter and we regaled you with our salmon and pork chop duel. However I neglected to finish off the post with the dessert we had that day. Desserts are rare around here. The only time we really get serious about dessert is when we have guests. For the most part our desserts are never interesting enough to share. I’ll get some Ben & Jerry’s sorbet and add a cookie or two. Or maybe it will be a bowl of fruit with agave syrup drizzled on top but this was Easter and we wanted to do something special. Curt remembered we had some canned pears dated 2010, still within a safe time frame.
We do not have pear trees but Curt’s folks had a pear tree which was very prolific. Curt’s Dad, Harold, always had a huge garden and Curt’s Mom, Jane, was a canner. In the fall when everything was getting ripe there was always a flurry of jars and lids and rings and hot water baths and pressure cooking going on in her kitchen. This had lessened over the years because the four kids had grown up and moved out a long time ago so there weren’t as many mouths to feed. Also in her last years Jane developed some dementia so it wasn’t a wise idea to have her coordinating the incredible process of peeling and coring and blanching and fire and water that resulted in a pantry stocked with fruit and vegetables. However, they still couldn’t see all that good produce go to waste and probably together still did a few quarts of chowder and dill pickles. Harold died in August 2010. Curt’s sister, Mary, moved in with Mom until a suitable living arrangement could be found. In the meantime the garden kept ripening and the trees kept producing their fruit. The pear tree was loaded. Jane insisted on canning the pears and Curt’s sister had no choice but to join in, supervise and basically do it all since Jane was becoming increasingly forgetful.
The following April (2011) Jane, the canner joined Harold, the gardener and the children cleaned up the estate and divided up the more recent canned food, which included the pears.
When we opened the sealed jars last week, the pears were firm, had good color and taste. Curt wondered if, like a pineapple upside-down cake, there might be a pear equivalent and sure enough the internet came through again. Thus I give you:
Caramel Pear Upside Down Cake (modified from a modified recipe)
1/2 C dark brown sugar
1/4 C unsalted butter
2-3 ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced (or a pint and a half of Jane’s canned pears)
1 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 C granulated sugar
3 medium-sized eggs
1/2 C plain yogurt or sour cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ cake pan, then put a round piece of parchment paper in the bottom.
In a small pan, melt the butter and brown sugar over a medium heat. While the butter and sugar are melting, arrange the pears in the pan. Once the butter and sugar are melted, carefully pour over the pears.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, yogurt, vanilla and oil. When the wet ingredients are well combined, gently mix them into the dry. Do not over mix.
Now the tricky part. When cool, place a plate on top of the pan and turn it over to release it from the pan. Peal off the parchment paper. If for some reason a pear sticks to the paper, gently remove and place it back where its supposed to be. No one will know the difference. Ours didn’t stick!
Serve each slice with a dollop of whipped cream. Thanks Jane and Mary, the cake was delicious.