I love cardamom, and a couple of years ago my sister Cassie gave me a beautiful cookbook, The Cardamom Trail, by Chetna Makan. Aside from having beautiful pictures and lots of great writing, the recipes are fantastic. And tis weekend, I decided to try making the Pear and Cardamom Caramel Cake.
I’ve never done an upside-down cake before, and it’s even been a while since I made anything in a springform pan! I had to buy a new one to make this recipe, as I made my delicious cheesecake for a friends’ birthday about a year ago, and left the springform at their place. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I find that springform pans always leak, which I forgot on this recipe until I smelled the burning smell coming from the oven as the caramel dripped out. So I recommend covering the bottom of the pan in tin foil, just in case.
The flavours of this cake are incredible – the almond-orange of the cake itself, with the caramel-cardamom-pear topping, are in such beautiful balance. And then it just looks so beautiful – when I did the nerve-wracking flip onto the cooling rack, then gently pull away the bottom of the pan,I was so excited about the way it looked, and that I hadn’t wrecked it, that I did a happy dance around the kitchen.
Pear and Cardamom Caramel Cake
For the topping:
- 50g butter
- 100g brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 4 pears, peeled and halved
- 150g powdered sugar
- 200g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing the pan
- 150g self-raising flour
- 50g ground almonds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 large eggs
- finely grated zest of 2 oranges
- 9″ springform pan
- wire cooling rack (I also set parchment or waxed paper below the rack, as the topping may remain liquid after the cake is done baking)
- tinfoil to cover the bottom of the springform pan (in case of leaks)
- Grate oranges for zest; set aside
- Peel pears (I used a potato peeler, but a sharp knife will also do the trick), cut in half along their length, remove core and stem.
- Lightly grease your springform pan with butter.
- In a saucepan, combine topping ingredients butter, brown sugar, and cardamom. Cook on low heat until sugar is dissolved in butter and consistency is uniform. Continue cooking for two minutes.
- Pour this sauce into the springform pan and spread evenly over the base.
- Place halved pears in the pan, cut sides facing down.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all cake ingredients and stir to combine until mixture is light and creamy and no dry ingredients remain, at least two minutes.
- Spoon cake mixture over pears carefully, so as not to disturb the positioning of the pears.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Wrap the bottom of the springform pan in tinfoil; this helps to catch any leaks from the topping.
- Bake cake for 50 – 55 minutes on the middle rack in the oven, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Leave in the pan to cool for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out on to a wire rack to cool.
- Eat hot or cold within about 4 days, but keep very well-sealed – it will get stale quickly if exposed to the air!