Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Saffron-Scented Pear Upside-Down Cake

I just love this cake, so I figured you all might enjoy this recipe. The saffron is a wonderful match to the pears, and ginger goes with just about anything. I use a mortar and pestle instead of the spice grinder, but you could even use a knife and cutting board to chop the saffron threads and then mix them with sugar.

1 pinch saffron threads
1 cup sugar (¼ cup + ¾ cup)
¼ cup lactose-free margarine (or butter, softened)
2 pears
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp salt
¾ cup lactose-free milk (or buttermilk)
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp finely chopped crystallized ginger

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Pulse saffron and ¼ cup of the sugar in a spice grinder until well-combined.

Put butter and saffron sugar into the bowl of an electric beater fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Using a small offset spatula, spread mixture into prepared pan.

Peel pears; halve lengthwise and core. Using a sharp knife, cut pears lengthwise into ¼-inch thick slices. Arrange pears decoratively in pan over saffron-butter mixture.

Whisk together flour, remaining ¾ cup of the sugar, baking powder, ground ginger and salt in a large bowl. Whisk milk, oil, eggs and vanilla in another bowl.

Add milk mixture to flour mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking. Stir in the crystallized ginger.

Spread the batter over the pears.

Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.

Place serving platter upside-down over the cake pan and flip to unmold the cake. Peel off the parchment paper and serve.

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