November 23rd, 2011
Stop! There’s no reason to panic.
It’s all under control. It is, after all, just one meal.
I know, I know. It’s the meal, but so what? It’s just food. A perfectly cooked turkey is not what you’ll remember. Well, I mean, it’s not what you’ll remember most. What’s important—what you’ll really remember—is being with family and friends. That’s what it’s all about people: family, friends, love and thanks. Yes, food, too. Preferably good food (ahem) but, more than that, food made with love.
So don’t stress. Feel the love and joy. Put it into your food for your family and friends. If you need to pare, then do it—nobody need 15 courses. If you need to sip on wine while cooking and now (oops!) the pie crust is burnt, so what—it’s just pie. If you need to choose a super simple recipe because you haven’t even started thinking about what you’re going to bring to the potluck, no problem—here you go. An easygoing Cranberry Pear Upside Down Cake to the rescue!
I whipped this up this morning, with the kids running around. It’s easy breezy and full of great fall flavors perfectly matched to Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a no stress cake that comes out all beautiful looking. But not in a perfect way. In a gorgeously imperfect way that feels warm and homey. In a way that’s tailor made for enjoying with family and friends.
Have fun tomorrow. I’ll be thinking of you! xo
Cranberry Pear Upside Down Cake
makes one 9″ cake, serves 8-10
(can be shared with kids 12+ mos)*
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 fresh pears, peeled, cored & cut into 24 slices each
1 cup fresh cranberries, washed & dried
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger**
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon**
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves**
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a 9″ cake pan set on the stovetop over low heat. (Leave the other 8 tablespoons on the counter to come to room temperature.) Add brown sugar and heat until dissolved and bubbling, at which point the sugar should easily spread to cover the entire bottom of the cake pan. Set aside and when fully cooled, arrange the pear slices in a pinwheel pattern. Spread cranberries evenly over the top of the pears, allowing some to fill the gaps. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat remaining 8 tablespoons of butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, mixing the first egg in completely before adding the second. Add 1/2 of the flour mixture and mix until well combined. Mix in milk, then add remaining flour mixture and all of the spices.
4. Spread batter evenly over the prepped fruit. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Don’t stress if the top of the cake begins to turn a deep golden brown in spots—this is actually the bottom of your cake and it’s fine so long as it’s not burning! Remove cake from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Gently run a knife around the edges of your pan and invert onto a serving plate. If you are not serving the cake right away, leave it in the pan and reheat before inverting and serving. Alternatively, you can invert onto a microwave-safe plate after 20 minutes and warm the cake for a short time in your microwave before serving. The point is to serve this cake warm!
*Note: While there is nothing in this cake that is unsafe for early eaters, I recommend it for kids 12+ months due to the high sugar content. That said, go ahead and splurge with younger finger food eaters on Thanksgiving—just be sure to serve age appropriate portions. A little of this cake goes a long way with wee nibblers!
**Note / Holiday Spice variation: The version above is a wonderful, simple, all purpose cake. I also make a version that’s heavier on the spice, perfect for the holiday season. Skip the ginger and add 1/4 teaspoon cardamom instead; increase cinnamon to 3/4 teaspoon and cloves to 1/2 teaspoon.