Friday, October 05, 2012

New Autumn Recipe: White House Spiced Pear Upside-Down Cake

A seasonal treat from Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses...
White House Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses says he loves to create desserts with "farmers market" fruits, such as apricots, peaches and nectarines.  His latest recipe, Spiced Pear Upside-Down Cake, makes one of Fall's sweetest fruits the star of the show.  It is an homage to autumn, thanks to using cinnamon and cloves, those favorite spices of the Thanksgiving table.  The treat is moist and very sweet, thanks to caramelized brown sugar, plenty of butter, and the juices of the pears dripping into the cake.

The recipe is relatively easy to make, using just one pan, one bowl and hand mixing; total prep time for the cake testing done here at Obama Foodorama was just 15 minutes. The rapid action is due to the pears being merely cut in half, rather than thinly sliced.  Yosses calls for red pears in his recipe, and these don't have to be overly ripe for success.

But while prep time is quick, cooking time is long: At least 55 minutes.  Make sure your oven is fully pre-heated, or the inside of the cake will not finish.  And lining the 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper is a must to prevent sticking.

Yosses does not like "spa desserts" when cooking for the First Family, he says, preferring to use traditional ingredients.  But he cuts these into smaller portion sizes so the calorie load is reduced.

Check the sidebar of the blog for more autumn recipes, including Yosses' White House Huckleberry Pie, served at all Obama Thanksgivings, and the buttery White House Halloween Cookies.

The pears and sugar mixture await topping with the batter, at right
White House Spiced Pear Upside-Down Cake


1/4  Cup unsalted butter

2/3  Cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 Tbls All Purpose Flour

1 lb Red Pears--3 pears, ripe, and cut into halves with seeds removed

1 Tbls water

1/3 cup butter, softened room temperature

1 Egg

2/3 Cup Milk (non-fat is fine)

3/4 Cup firmly packed Light Brown Sugar

1/4  Cup Granulated Sugar

1 1/2  Cup All Purpose Flour

2 Tsp Baking Powder

1/2  Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/4 Tsp Cloves

The cake, ready for the oven
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

For the topping: 

1.  Melt butter and add brown sugar, flour, and water, stir to combine.

2.   Spread mixture into the bottom of a 9” pan lined with parchment paper.

3.  Place pear halves cut side down on top of the brown sugar.

For the batter:

4.  In a bowl, combine butter, egg, milk, brown sugar, and granulated sugar, and whisk together until mixed.

5.  Add flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon  and cloves; stir to mix, making sure no lumps are present.  Sifting can be done for the dry ingredients, but is not necessary.

6.  Pour batter over pear halves in the pan, spreading evenly until covered.

7.  Bake for 55 minutes or until top springs back.

8.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.  Ed. note: Wait at least 15 minutes.  The pears will be steaming when newly out of the oven.

9.  After cooling, gently loosen edges with a small kitchen knife, then invert cake pan onto a serving plate.  Leave it like this for a few minutes to allow juices to fall onto cake, then carefully remove the cake pan.

*The pears will easily slice, and serving sizes can be small, if preferred.  Tastes swell with unsweetened whipped cream, but actually needs no further embellishment.

The cake does not rise much, and looks like this right out of the oven
*Photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Fodoorama