Memorable pear upside-down cake is perfectly paired with cider ice cream

November 03, 1993|By Bev Bennett | Bev Bennett,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Some people remember great appetizers. Others recall entrees. I have a dessert memory.

I can still "taste" an incredible chocolate cake with creme fraiche I had five years ago. I can describe outstanding cookies as if they just came from the oven, although the experience is old.

For more than a year I've had the pleasure of a pear upside-down cake lingering in my mind. The cake was created by Bradley Ogden and his staff at the Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur, Calif. I had the cake, and a few other desserts, I might add, during a restaurant splurge trip with friends.

It was a sweet, spiced, moist and fruity cake. The natural delicate flavor of the pears was evident and nothing was done to disguise that.

Now that pears are in season I decided to recapture the taste of that cake in a recipe of my own.

Mr. Ogden's ingredient list called for pecans and pears. I prefer crunchier hazelnuts. He served the cake with vanilla ice cream, as rich as only he can make it. I decided to take advantage of fall harvest foods and make apple cider ice cream.

Make the entire recipe, or just the cake to serve with vanilla ice cream. It should be a memorable dessert.

Pear upside-down cake

Makes 4 servings of cake with ice cream

apple cider ice cream (recipe follows)

6 tablespoons butter

2 medium ripe pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup cake flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Prepare apple cider ice cream. Store in freezer while making cake.

Place 3 tablespoons butter in 8-inch round cake pan. Melt in 350-degree oven, about 5 minutes.

Arrange pear slices over butter and sprinkle with lemon juice. Stir together brown sugar, ginger and cinnamon in small bowl. Sprinkle over pears, followed by hazelnuts. Bake at 350 degree, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat remaining 3 tablespoons butter with granulated sugar in small bowl until light. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir together cake flour, baking powder and baking soda in separate bowl. Stir into egg mixture.

Remove cake pan from oven. Drop spoonfuls of batter over pears, spreading gently. Bake cake until it springs back when touched, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set aside 5 minutes, then run knife along edge of pan. Place plate over top and invert. Remove pan. Serve cake warm with apple cider ice cream.

Apple cider ice cream

Makes 2 servings if served alone, 4 if served with cake

1 cup apple cider

1 medium apple, peeled, cored and minced

2 cinnamon sticks

1 cup half-and-half

3 tablespoons sugar

2 eggs

Place apple cider, apple and cinnamon sticks in heavy-bottomed pan and cook over medium heat until almost all liquid evaporates, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl and set aside.

Pour half-and-half and sugar in same pan and cook until sugar dissolves and half-and-half is simmering. Beat eggs in heat-proof bowl. Pour about 1/3 of half-and-half mixture into eggs and beat. Pour egg mixture back into half-and-half in pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens to consistency of whipping cream. Remove from heat. Stir in apple mixture with cinnamon sticks. Chill in refrigerator 2 hours.

When mixture is cold, remove and discard cinnamon sticks. Pour mixture into ice cream machine and process according to manufacturer's directions.

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