Unpacking is happening slowly. We've brought over boxes galore, but don't have the furniture into which the items will be placed. The most furnished rooms in the house are the boys' bedroom and their playroom. Meanwhile I have drawers on the floor, patiently waiting for the chest that houses them, books spilling out of boxes, and only four adult seats in the house. No sofas, armchairs, dining room table, or much of anything else. Either it's too heavy and we are waiting to hire movers, or we're buying new pieces. In all honesty, the chaos is really getting to me. Luckily, the boys don't mind. They even seem to prefer it this way.
Some normalcy is returning, however. We are back to eating home cooked dinners (sort of), bathing regularly (I am embarrassed to say this, but I know that the week of Thanksgiving several baths, both for the boys and myself, were missed), and going to bed at a reasonable hour. I even did some baking this past week. I bought some pears at Wegman's with the intent to make a butterscotch pear pie a few days later. Halfway through the rest of my grocery shopping, I looked at my cart, and in three of the pears there was a scattering of small holes, the size of a toddler's finger. Later wouldn’t work, the pears needed to be used that day. Lacking the energy to make the pie crust, I made an upside down pear cake. It seemed appropriate given the state of my affairs.
Upside Down Pear Cake adapted from Simply Delicious Food, Morning Noon and Night by Fran Warde
My original plan was to tell you how easy this cake was, that it was a foolproof recipe that you can make with one free arm and a baby on your hip. This is exactly how I made it the first time. I didn't have a vegetable peeler or a paring knife, so I peeled the pears with our small santoku knife and cored them with a soup spoon. Edward was coming and going between this home and the townhome, Max was running his usual laps through the kitchen and living room, and Sam was either on my hip or holding onto my jeans, crying. Despite all that, I still thought things were going well, until I checked on the cake and saw it was spilling over the top of the pan. The first time I used my oven, and the smell of burnt cake batter emanated through the house. Great. To top it off, I couldn’t get the cake to bake all the way through. Half of it baked thoroughly, while the other half oozed onto the serving platter.
Luckily, I didn't have to repeat those conditions the second time I made it; and it truly is very easy. I made just a few tweaks the second time, and the cake came out wonderfully. It’s not going to win any beauty contests, but it’s buttery and delicious. Pears aren’t your thing? Try any fruit you can think of; maybe some plums or caramelized apples.
3 pears, peeled, halved, and cored
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter at room temperature
¾ cup + 2 T sugar
1 cup + 1 T flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
3 T milk
Powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease and line 9” cake pan with wax paper
Arrange the pear halves evenly in the bottom of the pan
Beat, with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon, the butter and sugar in a large bowl until it is light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition
Fold in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in milk.
Pour batter over pears and bake for 50 - 60 minutes. It is a good idea to rotate the pan halfway through baking to ensure it bakes evenly. The cake should be much browned, and the surface should spring back when gently touched.
Allow to cool for five to ten minutes, and then turn upside down onto a serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.
This cake does not keep, so serve generous portions.