As I mentioned a few days back, this is the time of year that the harvest starts to really come on strong. It is all I can do to keep ahead of it. The fruit trees are especially difficult, because nearly 90% of what the produce is ripe at the same time. And a tree full of fruit is a whole lot different than a bush full of tomatoes – and 10 trees makes you want to run away screaming! The upside is that all of this forces me to get creative.
Last year, we had City Fruit glean 2 of the apple trees. Two more of the trees had been subjected to an apple fungus because of the extremely wet Spring and were unusable. The only plum we have was subjected to the same fate. That still left us 1 apple and 4 pear trees to work with. This year, we are likely to donate the fruit from 4 apples and maybe a pear. The plum has still not recovered, sad to say, even though I love it, I am glad not to be dealing with it right now.
As things stand, I still have several boxes full of jars with canned pears and other jams, this even after having given boxes and boxes of them away. I just can’t bring myself to use the pears for more of the same this year. I have already diverted some of the apples into applesauce. The kids sucked up the first batch like it was crack. When I presented the second batch, they all looked at me like kids who had just come from a birthday party and were offered liver and onions for dinner. Anyway, I am playing around with ways to use it all up, but in a more creative way. I have both applebutter and pearbutter on my agenda. I have a dozen or so savory pear dishes as well. I also have in mind to make use of them in several desserts. If I can work chocolate into them, even better. This upside down cake is the first of many experiments. I will try to post them as I go along and give you my feedback on their success.
Chocolate-Pear Upside Down Cake
1/2 stick butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 pounds pears, peeled, cored and quartered
2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 stick butter, softened at room temp
1 cup sugar
1 egg, well beaten
1/2 cup apple or pear sauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. butermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a castiron skillet, on low heat melt the butter. Evenly distribute the brown sugar and remove from heat. Arrange the pear slices in spokes around the pan.
In a bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and apple/pear sauce. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, scraping the sides after blending. Add half the buttermilk, scraping down the sides after mixing. Alternate the flour and buttermilk and all are combined. Gently press the batter down on top of the pears in the skillet. Bake for about 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean. Allow the skillet to rest for about 10 minutes. Being very careful not to burn yourself, place a plate on top of the skillet and invert it. The cake should release easily.
I liked the chocolate-pear combo, but my spouse felt that the spice cake and chocolate were not well paired. I think that this would also be great served warm with vanilla ice cream, but then again, what wouldn’t?