Well that’s not what I had planned. It was supposed to be a leisurely rollerblade around the neighborhood; a means to enjoy the beautiful afternoon. I guess one doesn’t pay much attention to the poor, ragged quality of the road on walks. Or to generously scattered pebbles the perfect size to lodge between small inline wheels, stopping the spin instantly.
Long story short, I met the road up-close-and-personal in a most ungraceful manner. Fortunately my knees, hip and hands were there to spare costly facial reconstruction. Unfortunately my left wrist bore the brunt of the impact. The result: severe deep muscle bruising and strained ligaments in my elbow and shoulder, searing pain and an all but unusable left arm.
I find my predicament terribly annoying. However, my caretaker — well-trained in combat medicine, and also an adoring fan of mine — is wonderful. It’s a true blessing to have him with me, acting as the second arm and hand I need, tending my bandages like a pro. Though I’m sure he’s tiring of the phrase, “please, let me do that,” every time he walks in on me attempting to fold laundry, empty the dishwasher, fill new ice bags, wield the butcher knife to chop a delicata squash…
Even if I’m not the most cooperative patient, I promise I am most gracious. And I gladly sit with my ice packs while a warmed slice of this cake and a glass of milk is delivered to me by a handsome man.
We both agree that pear ginger upside-down cake is one of the best things to come out of our kitchen in a while. One of the best smelling, too. Moist, flavorful, spicy, seasonal and pleasantly reminiscent of Mom’s monkey bread. I’m positive it has healing properties.
Pear Ginger Upside-Down Cake [makes one 9" cake; halved makes one tall 7" cake]
For the Topping:
5 T butter, at room temperature
½ c brown sugar
1 ½ t ground cinnamon
4 medium pears, peeled, cored and quartered lengthwise (I used red Anjou pears)
+ + +
For the Cake:
16 T (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2/3 c brown sugar
2 T fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
3 eggs, room temperature
2/3 c molasses (original calls for treacle)
3 c all-purpose flour
1 ½ t baking powder
1 ½ t baking soda
½ t salt
1 ½ c buttermilk, store-bought or make your own
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 9″ removable-bottom cake pan (springform) with butter or cooking spray, line with a circle of parchment paper and then place pan onto a baking sheet (to catch any drips).
To make the topping, combine butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat until melted. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Place quartered pears on top of the mixture tightly in a decorative circle so that none of the bottom shows through.
To make the batter, place butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; cream until pale in color. Add the ginger, and beat for another minute. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Slowly pour in the molasses (or treacle) and beat to fully mix. Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled.
In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together; whisk to combine. Alternately add small amounts of flour and buttermilk to the batter, being careful to only mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated.
Transfer the batter into the pear-lined pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake for about 1 hour and 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.
Cover the pan with an upside down serving plate and carefully invert. Release the sides of the pan and lift it away. Peel off the parchment paper and cool 20-30 minutes. Serve warm.
Adapted from spicy icecream