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Friday, June 12, 2009

Upside-down pear and macadamia cake

This one's a winner.

Every time I've made this upside-down pear and macadamia cake, everybody wants seconds. The cinnamon-spiced pears are a perfect match for the chill that is winter, and the inclusion of almond meal gives the cake a lovely moist friand-style crumb.

What I love most about this cake, is it can be made in advance and then reheated to serve. Once up-turned on a plate, I like to place it under the grill for about ten minutes, or as long as you can before the macadamias threaten to burn. The brown sugar top will bubble and then slowly caramelise to shards of crunchy golden toffee. And that's the moment you will have your guests on-side forevermore.

Upside-down pear and macadamia cake

110g brown sugar
4-6 unripe pears (I used Packham)
250 unsalted butter, softened
100g macadamia halves
300g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 2/3 cups (250g) plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
80g almond meal
500g Greek-style yoghurt (or use 1 cup/250ml buttermilk)

Preheat oven to 180C (170C if fan-forced).

Grease and line the base and sides of a 24cm round cake pan.

Sprinkle the brown sugar over the base of the pan and pat out until it is roughly even. Peel and core the pears, then slice into eighths.

Melt 100g of the butter and pour over the brown sugar. Dot liberally with the macadamia pieces (rounded side on the bottom, flattened side facing you) and then cover the base completely with overlapping side-ways wedges of pear. The pear slices can also be arranged rounded-side down if you find overlapping them too finicky.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the caster sugar and the remaining 150g of butter, and cream for about five minute or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Sift into the bowl the four, baking powder and spices. Add the almond meal and the yoghurt and fold everything together gently with a wooden spoon. The batter should be well-incorporated and smooth. Pour the batter over the pears.

Bake for about 60-80 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool for at least thirty minutes before inverting onto a plate, removing the baking paper and serving.

The cake tastes even better if you invert onto a plate and place beneath a medium-to-high grill, allowing the syrup to caramelise to toffee.

Serve with double cream or scoops of ice cream. The leftovers (if you have any!) will keep for up to a week in the fridge. Microwave leftover slices until hot and serve with cream or ice cream.

Miniature versions (or leftover batter?)

You can also make mini versions of this cake, especially useful if you happen to have leftover batter. Place patty pans into a muffin tin and then use your judgement to line it with brown sugar (about a teaspoon?) and melted butter (about 1 1/2 teaspoons?). Dot with 2-3 pieces of macadamia and layer with halved wedges of pear (you may need to make these a little thinner too).

Cover with batter and bake for about 20-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. You can place these upside down beneath a grill to caramelise as before, or simply microwave in their patty cases and then peel out onto a plate and serve with cream or ice cream. Perfect for an afternoon treat or dessert. Possibly good for breakfast too.

Related Grab Your Fork posts: Winter desserts
Apple cinnamon streusel muffins
Apple rhubarb ginger crumble
Fruit cake
Ginger cupcakes with chai icing
Gingerbread, dense
Poor Knights of Windsor
Rhubarb crumble
Rice custard, baked with coconut pandan
Sago pudding
24 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 6/12/2009 01:49:00 am


  • At 6/12/2009 1:08 am, Blogger lifeis2munch said…

    hmmm... sounds zeeelicious.

  • At 6/12/2009 6:13 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This looks absolutely delightful. I just love Mac. nuts good for the eyes

  • At 6/12/2009 8:14 am, Blogger Betty @ The Hungry Girl said…

    Yum! I love macadamia nuts in desserts. This looks delicious!

  • At 6/12/2009 10:08 am, Blogger Implosion said…

    OMG delicious....
    Can just imagine this served warm with double cream on the side. And a glass of red.

  • At 6/12/2009 10:26 am, Blogger Jennifer said…

    WOw that sounds great and looks yummy!!!!

  • At 6/12/2009 10:43 am, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    I love the sound of the sticky toffee top!

  • At 6/12/2009 11:36 am, Anonymous Veruca Salt said…

    Looks deliciously moist. Would be totally into it except for the pears bit

  • At 6/12/2009 6:53 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    This is a very Australian dessert - I love the use of the macademia nuts to give it a real twist.

  • At 6/13/2009 6:27 am, Blogger TheBigB3n said…

    sounds absolutely beautiful, perhaps this is the one to mark my foray into cake making.

    Handy Tip, if grilling is not available, a hand-held blowtorch would be brilliant for the light caramelisation.

  • At 6/13/2009 8:59 am, Blogger spicyicecream said…

    This looks fantastic, I'm going to give it a go! I love using pears in desserts and cakes!

  • At 6/13/2009 9:40 am, Anonymous Yas said…

    Hmm-Hmm looks yummy!!
    I know it would go well with my leftover macadamia & toffee ice cream - where's my slice!!

  • At 6/13/2009 10:59 am, Anonymous lili - pikelet & pie said…

    Haha I see you didn't have a caramel overflow from your upside down cake :) Looks great!

  • At 6/13/2009 5:00 pm, Blogger Forager said…

    Looks great! I'm not an avid baker, but do have an endless supply of macadamias from an overproducing Macadamia tree. This looks like a good use of them!

  • At 6/13/2009 11:33 pm, Blogger OohLookBel said…

    Nice! By the way, your recipe for apple streusel muffins has become one of my staples.

  • At 6/14/2009 12:39 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You got me with 'crunchy golden toffee' mmmmm but extra pouring toffee sauce never hurts :)

  • At 6/14/2009 8:34 am, Blogger Y said…

    Oh the mini ones are terribly cute too!

  • At 6/14/2009 10:25 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi globe trotting foodie - It was! Would definitely recommend you give it a go!

    Hi Oge - I love it when tasty food is good for you too. All the more reason to have a second helping!

    Hi Betty - Nuts add such a lovely crunch and decadence to desserts don't they?

    Hi Implosion - Oh yes, if you're going to have dessert, may as well go all the way!

    Hi Jennifer - Thank you, and it's such an easy recipe too.

    Hi Arwen - Mmm toffee. I agree!

    Hi Veruca Salt - The pears make it! Trust me ;)

    Hi Gourmet Chick - lol. I hadn't really thought about it like that - macadamias are such a natural ingredient for me to use :)

    Hi The BigB3n - I did actually try using a blow torch but gave up as mine is so tiny and the flame wasn't really strong enough.

    Yep, give cake-making a go. I find as long as you follow the recipe (cakes are all about physics so ratios are important) and keep an eye on it in the oven, you'll be fine!

    Hi Lisa - Me too, I love pears in desserts. Always a guarantee of moistness and usually they're not overly sweet either. Hope you enjoy it!

    Hi Yas - lol. I could picture you eating the whole thing, entire tub of ice cream included! Can't believe you even have leftover ice cream :)

    Hi lili - Nope, no caramel overflow, although my oven does need cleaning! lol

    Hi Forager - Wow, you have access to an overproducing macadamia tree? Lucky you!

    Hi Belle - I haven't made the apple struesel muffin since. Thanks for the reminder. I love recipe muffins that don't require creaming - so quick to make and much less washing up to do!

    Hi FFichiban - Extra toffee sauce? Wow. Although this coming from the guy who eats two katsusando!

    Hi Y - The mini ones are great. A very handy snack to have in the fridge - perhaps a little too handy :)

  • At 6/15/2009 12:57 pm, Blogger Karen said…

    This looks amazing and I will def. try this recipe!!!

  • At 6/15/2009 12:58 pm, Blogger Karen said…

    This cake looks amazing! I will def. be trying it- thank you!

  • At 6/17/2009 8:59 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Karen - Hope you enjoy it. It's perfect for the cold weather at the moment!

  • At 6/17/2009 9:53 pm, Anonymous Amandajane said…

    I am not a great or confident cook but this was the best dessert/cake I have ever made! I cooked it on Saturday for a small dinner party. Everyone loved it. Thanks so much for a lovely recipe.

  • At 6/18/2009 10:48 pm, Anonymous Simon said…

    Mini portions is a great idea! No disputes over whose slice was the largest!

    Will have to try this one out if I ever get the impulse to bake a cake.

  • At 6/20/2009 1:32 pm, Blogger Ryç said…

    Oh wow, this sounds like a really really good cake. I've never baked before (well maybe except one time), and I'm definitely giving this a try!!!

    I love the small portions/leftover batter idea!


  • At 6/21/2009 11:10 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Amandajane - Aww so glad to hear it was such a hit! I'm always worried about dry cakes so I veer toward those that contain sour cream, buttermilk or yoghurt - guaranteed moistness and a win-win for the relieved cook and the happy guests too!

    Hi Simon - Ha, but I always peer at all the portions and still try to accidently pick the biggest one! Who needs an impulse - just bake away I say!

    Hi Ryc - This ones very easy to do and quite impressive to serve. Just make sure you keep an eye on the oven and check regularly to see if it's cooked. I hate waste, esp dessert, so I always use up leftover batter in muffin tins :)


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