This cake combines some of my favorite fall flavors, including ripe pears, caramel, cinnamon and almonds. It’s basically an upside-down cake, with a base of caramelized pear slices and a tender almond buttermilk cake on top. A layer of oat and almond streusel is tucked in the middle, which adds cinnamon-almond flavor and some texture and crunch. After baking, the cake is inverted so that the glistening spiral of pears is on top, making an impressive presentation. Serve a slice for brunch or a snack, or add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream for a more formal dessert — any way you slice it, it’s downright delicious.
Makes one 9-inch cake, serving 10-12
- 4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
- 1 cup firmly packed (216 grams) light brown sugar
- 3 ripe (about 600 grams) pears (Bosc or Bartlett), peeled, cored, halved lengthwise and then cut into ½-inch wedges
- 1/3 cup (40 grams) slivered almonds
- ½ cup (37 grams) quick-cooking oats
- 1/3 cup (43 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup firmly packed (71 grams) light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
Almond Buttermilk Cake:
- 1 2/3 cups (217 grams) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 large (100 grams) eggs
- ½ teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- ¾ cup (181 grams) buttermilk
Make the Caramel-Pear Layer:
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- Place the butter pieces in a small, heavy saucepan and melt over medium heat. Stir in the light brown sugar and cook over medium heat until the mixture is bubbling. Continue to simmer for 1 minute, then pour the hot mixture into the prepared pan, letting it cover the bottom.
- Arrange the pears wedges in a circle around the edge of the pan, overlapping them slightly, with the pointed ends towards the center. Arrange a few of the shorter slices in the center to cover the bottom of the pan.
Make the streusel:
- Place all of the streusel ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times until the mixture is crumbly. Spread the streusel out onto a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, stirring halfway through baking, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool completely. Leave the oven on.
Make the cake:
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder; whisk gently to combine and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 30 seconds. Gradually add the sugar and beat at medium-high speed until light, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Stir the extracts into the buttermilk. While mixing at low speed, add the dry ingredients to the batter in three additions, alternating it with the buttermilk in two additions and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until blended. Spoon half of the batter into the pan, over the pears, and smooth it into an even layer. Sprinkle the streusel on top, reserving 1/2 cup to garnish the top of the cake. Spoon the remaining batter on top and spread it into an even layer. Bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 25 minutes.
- Carefully invert the pan onto a cake plate. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the reserved streusel and serve the cake with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.