I’m blaming it on the move. The lack of posts lately, that is. To say it’s been hectic around here the last month is an understatement.
Moving house is one of those well-known stressful life events. And ours wasn’t just a move but a downsizing. I’m not sure, but my guess is that this ups the stress score a few notches.
In addition to the long list of regular moving tasks, with a downsizing there’s a number of questions that need answers before moving day: What is essential to take with us? Will our huge, well-loved sofa fit in the door? What can we shed rather than move into storage? And one question I pondered a lot: If it’s going into storage, won’t we realize in a year that we can get along without it just fine? That’s the minimalist in me talking.
With all the long days of making moving-related decisions, it suddenly hit me: With my regular life temporarily turned upside-down, I really needed a few stable things to count on. Anchors to help keep me sane amidst all the changes swirling around us.
Like friends. Ones with large trucks to haul junk to the dump. And ones with vans and soon-to-be teens, happy to take oversized cushions and other sleepover-friendly things off our hands. We can’t thank you enough.
Like family. Answering my desperate plea for food on moving day. (What do we feel like? Well, we’ve been going since 7am without a break. It’s 3pm and we’re absolutely famished. Anything, really, anything you can deliver would taste good right about now.)
Like John Bishop’s upside-down cake. Yes, a cake.
Eve, when you asked if I could bring a dessert for Thanksgiving dinner — even though moving day had been only a few days before, and I had countertops covered in stuff and a new oven to figure out — I knew baking something would help signal the end of this chaotic time. (Or at least the beginning of the end.) And I knew I could count on this cake to be delicious.
I’ve made this upside-down cake several times, with different fruit, and I can attest to two things: 1) It’s dead simple to make, and 2) the results are consistently impressive. The ingredients are really quite ordinary, but its humbleness belies a surprising complexity. It’s moist, flavorful, with a toothsome crumb. The fruit is made sweeter and more delicious from mingling with the butter and brown sugar on the bottom of the pan.
The pear ginger upside-down cake reminds me of a homey cake that Mom would have made from a community cookbook, on the rare occasion that she did any baking. She was more of a pumpkin pie eater, I bet she would have made room on her dessert plate for a slice of this cake too.
Adapted from Simply Bishop's by John Bishop and Dennis Green, a book I highly recommend. I've also had great results making this gluten free by substituting a gluten free flour mix.
- 3 pears, peeled (I used Bartlett)
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
- whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Slice the pears lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick. Brush an 8-inch square or round cake pan with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar. Cover the bottom of the cake pan with sliced pear.
- Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom in a bowl, and set aside.
- Place softened butter and sugar in an electric mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix until well combined. Add milk and mix until well combined. Add flour mixture and mix well. Stir in crystallized ginger.
- Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.
- Invert cake onto serving plate. While still warm, cut into slices and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.