Pear and Cinnamon Skillet Cake

Automne 2019
food and drink

BY: Joanne Yolles

I love the look of this cake, especially when it’s baked in a dark cast-iron pan. I have a pan that I reserve just for baking in order to prevent any savoury notes from permeating my cakes. Any heavy skillet will be fine as long as it can go in the oven and is void of any strong aromas from other cooking.

4 firm but ripe Bosc pears
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup (60 mL) sugar
½ tsp (2 mL) cinnamon
2 tbsp (30 mL) water

¼ cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour
6 tbsp (90 mL) dark brown sugar
2 tsp (10 mL) cinnamon
1 tbsp (15 mL) unsalted butter

6 tbsp (90 mL) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
2 cinnamon sticks, crushed
1 ½ cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp (7 mL) baking powder
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
⅓ cup (80 mL) vegetable oil
1 cup (250 mL) sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 yolk, room temperature
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
⅔ cup (150 mL) sour cream, room temperature

1 For the pears, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

2 Peel 2 of the pears, cut in half and remove the core. Cut the remaining 2 pears in half, leaving the skin intact, and remove cores. Place the pears in a single layer in a baking dish, toss with the lemon juice, then place cut-side up in the dish. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the pears, then add the water to the dish. Bake the pears for 20 minutes, baste with the accumulated liquid and bake another 10 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and cool completely. Once cool, place the pear halves core-side down onto a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the pears lengthwise into thin slices, leaving the stem ends intact. Set the pears aside.

3 For the streusel, combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Work in the butter with your fingertips until combined. Set aside.

4 For the cake, butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch (25-cm) skillet or cast-iron pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

5 Place 6 tbsp butter in a small saucepan. Add the crushed cinnamon sticks, then place the pot over medium heat. Cook until the butter is foamy and a nut-brown colour, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool until tepid.

6 Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

7 Pour the vegetable oil into a large bowl. Pour the brown butter through a fine sieve into the oil and whisk to combine. Add the sugar and whisk to combine. Add the egg, the yolk and the vanilla and whisk together. Add the sour cream and whisk until smooth.

8 Sift about one-third of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and fold in gently until combined. Repeat with the remaining flour in 2 additions. The batter will be quite thick.

9 Spread half the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the streusel overtop. Dollop the remaining batter over the streusel and spread it evenly. Top the batter with the pear halves, fanning them out and arranging them randomly. Bake for 1 hour or until the cake is puffed and golden brown on top. Serve the cake directly from the pan, warm or at room temperature, along with some softly whipped cream or ice cream.

Serves 12