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Scott Suchman for The Washington Post; food styling by Diana Jeffra for The Washington Post
Dec 10, 2021
This upside-down pear cake, which happens to be gluten-free and features toasted miso in the batter, is a flirtatious tug-and-pull of sweet and savory flavors. Sliced pears are layered into quickly made caramel and then topped with a batter that comes together using just a bowl, a whisk and a spatula — no fancy gadgets needed. Serve it at the end of a meal, for a special occasion, at brunch or with a morning coffee.
You may be tempted to increase the salt in the recipe, but keep in mind that miso delivers a healthy dose of it. And, in the summer, try it with a pound and a half of plums, which is what the original recipe uses.
Active time: 30 mins; Total time: 1 hour 30 mins
Storage Notes: Store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Where to Buy: Shiro miso (white miso) can be found at Asian markets or well-stocked supermarkets. Light buckwheat flour or sorghum flour can be found at health food stores or online.
8 – 10
Tested size: 8-10 servings; one 9-inch cake
2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated sugar, divided
2 medium unpeeled pears (about 1 pound/455 grams total), such as Anjou or Bosc, cored and sliced 1/3- to 1/2-inch thick
3 tablespoons (60 grams) shiro miso (white miso)
1/3 cup (85 grams/80 milliliters) whole milk (may substitute with unsweetened plant milk)
1 cup (200 grams) lightly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (110 grams/120 milliliters) sunflower oil or extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (140 grams) light buckwheat flour or sorghum flour
1/2 cup (50 grams) almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
Finely chopped almonds, for serving (optional)
Heavy cream, whipped, for serving (optional)
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
Set a medium stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle half of the sugar evenly in the pan. As the sugar melts, sprinkle in the remainder and cook until all the sugar turns the color of a penny, 3 to 5 minutes. If the sugar isn’t melting evenly, stir it with a wooden spoon or flexible spatula. Transfer the caramel to a 9-inch cake pan, scraping the skillet to get every bit out. Carefully swirl the pan around so the bottom is covered with the caramel; the pan will get hot, so be careful. If you miss a few spots on the bottom of the pan before the caramel hardens, don’t worry — it will remelt in the oven when baking.
Carefully arrange the pears in a circular pattern over the caramel; set aside.
Using the same skillet, spread the miso in a thin layer on the bottom. Set the skillet over medium-high heat and cook the miso until it begins to stick to the skillet, stirring it around with a wooden spoon to toast it, 1 to 2 minutes. It will turn dark and smoky. Pour in the milk and whisk it with the miso, as if making a roux. The mixture will thicken into a dark paste. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool for about 5 minutes.
Whisk the brown sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla into the miso paste until smooth. Then whisk in the buckwheat or sorghum flour, almond flour, baking soda and salt until you have a smooth batter. Pour it over the pears and transfer to the oven.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan set over a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then run a butter knife close to the edge of the pan to release the cake and invert it onto a serving plate. If bits of caramel get stuck on the bottom of the pan, don’t worry — this is a rustic cake and need not look perfect.
Serve warm or at room temperature with a sprinkle of chopped almonds and/or a dollop of whipped cream, if using.
Adapted from “Cannelle et Vanille Bakes Simple” by Aran Goyoaga (Sasquatch Books, 2021).
Tested by Olga Massov.
Email questions to the Food Section.
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Calories per serving, based on 10: 344
% Daily Values*
Total Fat: 16g 25%
Saturated Fat: 2g 10%
Cholesterol: 57mg 19%
Sodium: 259mg 11%
Total Carbohydrates: 48g 16%
Dietary Fiber: 4g 16%
*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Total Fat: Less than 65g
Saturated Fat: Less than 20g
Cholesterol: Less than 300mg
Sodium: Less than 2,400mg
Total Carbohydrates: 300g
Dietary Fiber: 25g