Upside Down Caramel Pear Cake

A homely version of a French Tarte Tatin, this delicious cake makes a fabulous dessert served warm with cream or ice cream and is just as wonderful served cold at a picnic. If you prefer, use golden delicious apples instead of pears.

Ingredients:

220g caster sugar
5 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter
60g flaked almonds
4 large green hard pears or 3 granny smith apples
180g butter
90g soft brown sugar
200g sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
180g self-raising flour
90g ground almonds

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 24 cm springform tin with baking paper by removing the base, placing a double layer of paper over the base and then carefully replacing the sides and securing to lock the paper in place over the base. Gently butter the base and sides.

2. Heat the caster sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Brush the sides with a pastry brush dipped in water to wash off sugar crystals. Increase the heat and simmer until the liquid turns a light golden color. Remove from the heat and cool for 1 minute, then add the butter and 1 tablespoon of water and stir thoroughly to combine. Pour in the prepared cake tin and sprinkle over the flaked almonds then set aside to cool.

3. Meanwhile, heat the sweetened condensed milk over medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until it has turned a deep golden color, stirring to avoid burning.

4. Peel and core the pears (or apples) and cut into slices. Place these over the caramel, overlapping slightly as you add each new piece. Continue until the base of the pan is covered.

5. Using electric beaters, beat the butter and soft brown sugar until thick and pale, then add the caramelised sweetened condensed milk and cinnamon. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.

6. Mixing by hand, add the flour and ground almonds and incorporate thoroughly. Gently spoon the mixture over the caramel and fruit and place the cake tin on a baking tray.

7. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Place a flat baking tray over the top of the cake and quickly invert so that the cake is now upside down on the tray. Release the sides of the cake tin, remove the base, then the sides and then gently peel off paper, taking care not to disturb fruit.

8. Serve warm or cold with cream or ice-cream.

Recipe and image from Bake Your Cake & Eat it Too (New Holland Publishers), RRP $29.99, newhollandpublishers.com.