We were sure we were done with winter here in New York city. Temperatures have climbed, sometimes into the upper 60s, and daffodils are sprinkling the grey-brown landscape with yellow stars. But it looks like winter isn’t quite done with us yet. A storm is expected on Sunday and Monday that will bring snow and freezing temperatures back. I hope it’s the last of that for the year. I’m ready for spring.
Other than the seesawing temperatures, this time of year also means that we are done with fresh winter produce and have no spring replacements yet. It’s withered potatoes, refrigerator apples, and overgrown winter squash season. You can probably still find decent pears though. And if you do, make this cake. It’s made with ground almonds, giving it a toothsome crumb and a satisfying chew. It’s a pretty traditional upside-down cake, but instead of the usual caramel, you use pomegranate molasses. Their tartness provides a great counterbalance to the sweet pears. And to top it all, it just looks so beautiful when you take it out of the pan.
Have a slice and hang tight. Spring is just around the corner.
Pear Upside-Down Cake with Pomegranate Molasses – Slightly adapted from Bon Appétit
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
¼ cup pomegranate molasses, plus more for serving
1¾ cups sugar, divided
3-4 ripe Bosc or Bartlett pears (about 1½ pounds), peeled, halved lengthwise, cored
125 g almond flour (or 1 cup blanched almonds processed until fine)
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 350˚. Butter a 10″-diameter springform cake pan and line bottom with a parchment paper round; flour sides of pan. Set pan on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
Cook orange juice, ¼ cup pomegranate molasses, ¼ cup sugar, and remaining 2 Tbsp. butter in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved and mixture is slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Add pears, cut side up, and cook (undisturbed) until they begin to release their juices, about 3 minutes. Turn pears over and cook just until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly, then arrange pears, cut side down, in prepared pan.
Return skillet to medium heat and cook liquid in skillet until thickened and syrupy, about 4-5 minutes, depending on juiciness of pears. Pour syrup over pears and let cool while you prepare the batter.
In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat eggs, orange zest, and remaining 1½ cups sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add oil and continue mixing for another 1-2 minutes. Fold in dry ingredients just until fully incorporated. Pour batter over pears and smooth top.
Bake cake (on foil-rimmed baking sheet, to catch drips from springform pan) until top is golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes (it took 70 minutes for me). Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in pan, 15–20 minutes. Run knife around edges of cake to loosen and invert onto rack. Remove parchment and let cake cool completely.
If you want, drizzle cake with more pomegranate molasses just before serving.