I know. You are probably looking at the above and wondering, trick or treat. I know. She looks like crap. Like she sat in the sun too long. She maybe got a bit burnt. But she didn’t. And she isn’t. Crap, that is. In fact, she is really good crap. She happens to be one of the best cakes, I’ve made, well, since my last best cake. We loved this cake-manservant and I. It is the perfect cake for fall, for winter, forever. So now you know. She isn’t crap. She isn’t a trick. She’s really a treat. And I mean that. (It’s just my photos that are crap!)
She is a sultry, spicy beauty in disguise. She may not look pretty, but will totally warm your insides. She is mellow and luscious and exotic, all at the same time. And she could be yours, if you choose. Plus, she is easy to come by and quick to make. And she even comes warm out of the oven, all the while, making your home smell like an exotic paradise. And I could use some exotic paradise – like now- don’t you know?
I think I’ve run out of adjectives now. But I must reinforce that she is a really good cake. I made her on Monday and she is still moist and delectable on Thursday. She may look like crap, but she is so totally worth baking. Truth is, I don’t think I ever ate gingerbread as a kid. I remember my kids made it at the Pioneer outdoor museum (their 5th birthday party) and burnt baked it over a fire. They then got to shake heavy cream in a jar until it turned to whipped cream. I’m not sure if all of them liked gingerbread, but I do remember faces covered in whipped cream. And it was then I discovered that I loved gingerbread, burnt and all.
Yes, it is Halloween and I am ready for some major league treats. I’ve had enough tricks to last a lifetime and unless you know one that is legal and can pay my bills, then I guess this beauty will have to do. She’s kind of like Cinderella when she still wore rags – and cinders. But one bite or the right shoe (in Cinderella’s case) can have anyone believing in fairy godmothers.
I’m not lying. This Cinderella is gingery with just the right overtones of spice. She’s definitely a brunette wearing a crackly, caramelized brown sugar wig that magically starts in browned butter at the bottom and ends up melted and sugary on the top. (OK, it is because you flip the cake, so it’s not really magic.) The brown sugar and the pears are worth the price of admission. And I’m sure most any fruit would work and you could get away without fruit, too. I think it is supposed to make the cake pretty, but well, I’m not sure that theory holds!
I served this beauty with vanilla ice cream. But she can easily be had with whipped cream. And since she’s so easy, she can even be had on her own. This is a good one to practice what is often preached. You know the old adage-beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Trust me – one bite and you will be a believer. This baby is no trick. She’s a sumptuous treat!
And now, the three winners of the Whole Foods Giveaway:
Angie Agerter, Lucy-whose husband makes the meatloaf, and Georgette C- I will contact Angie and Georgette, but Lucy you need to reach me by Monday, November 4th to claim your prize!
Gingerbread, Browned Butter, Upside Down Skillet Cake – Serves 8
2 1/2 firm pears OR I had an old large can of halved pears in light syrup and used those after draining and drying
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3/4 c packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cloves
1/4 t salt
1 c molasses -not robust
1 c boiling water
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
Topping: Peel, halve and core pears. Cut each pear into 4 wedges.
Heat butter in 10 inch, well seasoned, cast iron skillet over moderate heat, until foam subsides. Reduce heat to low, sprinkle brown sugar over butter and cook, undisturbed, for three minutes. Not all the sugar will be melted. Arrange pears decoratively over the top and cook undisturbed for two minutes. (If using canned pears, just place in topping and then remove from heat.) Remove from heat.
Put rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt in a bowl. Whisk together molasses and boiling water in a measuring cup.
Beat together butter, brown sugar and egg in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy, about two minutes. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture alternately with molasses in three batches, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until smooth.
Pour batter over pears in skillet, spreading batter evenly, but being careful not to disturb the pears. Bake until a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 40-50 minutes. Cool cake in skillet on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
Run a thin knife around sides of skillet, invert onto a large plate with a lip over the skillet, and using potholders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert cake onto plate. Mine came out perfectly, however I didn’t have it centered in the center of the plate. Once it is out there is no moving it. It is a sticky cake and held together well. It was not syrupy but had a sugary, slightly crunchy topping with a delectable brown sugar taste. The cake was sublime with just the right amount of spices.
Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Happy Halloween!