Pear Upside-Down Cake
This is one of those desserts I turn to when I have friends coming over for a meal and I've been a tad overambitious with the menu. Last week, it was the Oxtail Daube from Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of Southwest France that did me in (I'll do a post on that sometime in the future).
This Pear Upside-Down Cake recipe comes from Vogue Entertaining + Travel's doyenne of food, Joan Campbell. It really is a throw-everything-together cake, the only real work coming from melting butter with brown sugar and slicing up a pear or two. I usually make the batter and leave it in the fridge, baking them as baby cakes just before eating. The original recipe calls for it to be baked as a large cake, with quartered pears embellishing the top. But they really do look a lot more sophisticated as individual portions and, for some reason, the cake actually turns out a lot lighter and fluffier that way too. The addition of ground ginger and cinnamon provides a wonderful, rounded spiciness to this classic, which I served with Vanilla Honey ice cream.