The winds are changing and autumn is in the air, which means pears are now in season. This warming, comforting cake makes the most of these gems and is just right for this time of year. The pears get softened by the aromatic, cardamom-infused caramel sauce, and the almond-scented sponge with a hint of orange is the perfect partner for sweet fruit. This cake can be enjoyed warm with some cream or ice cream, making it a triumph of contrasts, but it is just as lovely when eaten fully cool.
This cake pan will fit 3½ pears, so buy 4 pears and save the leftover half for a snack!
Note: The recipe calls for superfine (aka caster) sugar, but if you can’t find it, granulated sugar should be a fine substitute. —Chetna Makan
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Pear & Cardamom Caramel Upside-Down Cake
One 9-inch cake
(3½ tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
(heaping ½ cup) light brown or muscovado sugar
medium Bosc pears, peeled, halved, seeds removed
(¾ cup) superfine sugar
(½ cup plus 6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
(1 cup plus 5 tablespoons) self-rising flour
Heat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Use butter to grease a 9-inch round springform cake pan.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the 50 grams butter, sugar, and cardamom, swirling the pan until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted. Cook for 2 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth, stirring it well with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Carefully pour this into the prepared cake pan and spread evenly with whichever tool you stirred with. Place the prepared pear halves, cut side down, into the caramel.
In a medium bowl, combine all the cake ingredients and whisk for 2 minutes, until the batter is light and creamy. Spoon this mixture carefully over the pears, without disturbing them. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until the cake pulls away from the edges of the pan and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Leave the cake in the pan and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before carefully removing the sides of the springform pan. Place a plate or cake stand on top of the cake, then carefully invert the cake. Enjoy it warm or cold. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.