Gingerbread Pear Upside Down Cake

(photo taken by Darren, brother-in-law)

Grant and I were pleased as punch with ourselves for hosting, not one, but three dinner parties at our home last week. We may have not taken the time to properly decorate for the holidays this year but what's more merry than eating?

I found this great recipe off Smitten Kitchen...and I hope all of you home cooks out there follow her blog. I have yet to make a recipe off it that I didn't like.

I made it for a family dinner and substituted apples for pears and added more ginger and cinnamon. I like spicy gingerbread.

One of the best things about this cake is that it stayed moist for days.

Best if eaten by the fire or off a plate perched on top of a very round belly.

Gingerbread Apple Upside-Down Cake Adapted from Karen Bates at the Philo Apple Farm via the New York Times

Serves 12

Topping 4 tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing pan 1/2 cup dark brown sugar Pinch of salt 4 apples (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch wedges

Batter 1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, at room temperature 1/2 cup sugar 1 large egg 1/3 cup dark molasses 1/3 cup honey 1 cup buttermilk 2 1/4 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Very softly whipped cream

Make the topping: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 10-inch cake pan. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, four minutes, then swirl in salt. Remove from heat and pour into the bottom of your cake pan. Make circles of overlapping apple slices on top of the caramel. Chop any remaining slices and place them in the gaps.

Make the batter: Using a mixer, blend 1/2 cup butter and the sugar on medium-low speed. Increase the speed to high and cream until light and fluffy.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, molasses, honey and buttermilk. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Alternate mixing the flour and molasses mixtures into the butter mixture, adding the next once the last has been incorporated.

Pour the batter into the pan. Bake at least 45 to 50 minutes (thanks to commenter klp for reminding me this took a bit longer) or until a wooden tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn out onto a platter (one that will catch spills, unlike what you see in the pictures above).

Serve warm or cool with very softly whipped cream.