I'm back after a week in Ahmedabad at a learning program at IIM related to the field I work in. It was absolutely fascinating to be back in the classroom with 13 other individuals from different sections of the agri-business industry. The faculty was amazing and we had an excellent guest speaker; thought provoking insights, stimulating discussions and some heated arguments on the social aspects of the agri-business industry in India.
The other great bit about this trip was that I got to catch up with a close friend (and now a fellow blogger!) - Arch from the The Yum Factor. She was, as always, so warm and welcoming! We shopped, ate and chatted and then ate some more, in the very brief bits of time we got to spend together. When you reconnect with old friends, you come away recharged - Arch is this complete dynamo of energy - she has managed to design a beautiful and tasteful home for her family in a new city singlehandedly! An amazingly patient person, she is such a wonderful mother to her sweet 4 year old boy. And the food - delicious is the word. She even made pathrode - that Gujarati delicacy- at the last minute, steamed it and gave it to me barely 5 minutes before I left - its waiting to be eaten as a snack this evening!
But as always, good to be home - daughter insisted on accompanying Appa to the airport to pick me up but promptly fell asleep two minutes into the ride :) But was so nice to see her angelic (while asleep!) face when I landed. Childhood is a magical journey and I love seeing it through her eyes. I love upside down cakes - appeals to the child in me I guess. I think the first upside down cake I ate was a pineapple upside down cake made by my best friend's mother when we were in college. I still remember how heavenly it was.... I have made some more after that including this strawberry one.
So, when I saw this upside down cake made with caramelized pears and walnuts on Sig's blog, I was quite taken with the lovely, molten brown goodness it seemed to ooze. I also wondered at her comment about the 14tbsp of butter and 2 cups of sugar the recipe had and how it was difficult to expect the whole wheat to compensate for it in health terms. I decided to have a crack at the recipe and see whether I could come up with something which had a little less butter and sugar. When I started baking I never used to mess with recipes - of course, I went back to my bad ways of substitution pretty soon ;). But I was still a little bit concerned about tweaking this recipe.
I cut out the caramelized walnuts first since I don't really like nuts. That reduced a bit of the sugar,butter and maple syrup. For the caramelized pears I cut the butter and sugar as well as a little of the maple syrup. In the cake recipe as well, I figured since the caramelized sugar syrup would be sweet enough, some of the sugar could be reduced. I did increase the milk a little bit though since the batter seemed a little bit too thick. I had two pears and so I reduced the flour to 1.5 cups instead of 2cups; I used 1 cup of whole wheat flour and half a cup of all purpose flour. I used some ginger powder instead of the cardamom powder and substituted the maple syrup with golden syrup.
The cake turned out quite well and the pears were beautifully glazed. Next time I would probably use one more egg white or applesauce for some more moistness. Also I would bake it at 350 instead of 375C since the centre took some more time to be cooked though the rest of the cake was already done.
A beautiful cake and you can serve it warm in this season with some vanilla ice cream on the side.
Upside Down Pear Cake
Whole wheat flour (atta) - 1 cup
All purpose flour (maida) - 1/2 cup
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Ginger powder - 1 tsp
salt - pinch
1 egg (plus one egg white)
Butter - 150gm (or about 9 tbsp)
Sugar - 1/2 cup
vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Milk - 3/4 cup
For the caramelized pears:
Pears - 2, peeled, cored and sliced thin
Butter - 1 tbsp
Sugar - 4 tbsp
Golden Syrup - 6 tbsp
1. Heat the butter till just melted in a heavy pan, add the brown sugar and after 3-4 minutes, add the pear slices and saute till they turn brown - about 4 more minutes. Add the golden syrup and cook for another 4 minutes till the slices are soft but not falling apart. Cool.
2. Bring the butter to room temperature and beat in a large bowl along with the sugar on high(if using an electric mixer) till soft and shiny.
3. Add the egg, milk and vanilla essence and beat on low for 3-4 minutes till well combined.
4. Mix the flours, salt, ginger powder and baking powder and then add one third at a time, to the larger bowl and beat till just combined.
5. Grease a 8" pan and line with parchment paper 9or simply dust with flour). Grease the parchment paper too and the sides of the pan.
6. Arrange the slices starting from an inside circle and carrying on to the outside circle till the whole pan is covered. Pour the syrup on top.
7. Pour the batter (should be of dropping consistency) over the pear slices and smooth over with a wooden spatula, taking care not to press down too much.
8. Pre heat the oven to 350C and bake for 40-45 minutes till a skewer comes out clean. When completely cool, invert and serve.