Pear and Apple Upside Down Cake by Jim Eaton

The Bake-off
How I Learned to Lose to a Child and Love the Craft of Baking

My daughter and I have been watching the Great British Baking Show on Netflix.  She loves it, even though she doesn’t always get the subtle British humor. We both enjoy watching the bakes come together and I love how she roots for every contestant. 

Watching together has rekindled my interest in baking, largely as a result of her desire to make the creative and delicious looking creations from the show.  How do you say no to “Daddy, can we bake a cake like on the show where they say Bake and Stop?”

We decided to make a pear and apple upside down cake.  The week before, we bought some amazing pears and apples from the farmers’ market, this week the remaining pieces of fruit were nearly overripe and needed to be used.  This was the perfect way to bake together and prevent wonderful produce from becoming trash.

We each prepared a pie pan. Then we placed our fruit into the pan.  I chose a circular pattern for the fruit, as that is the traditional arrangement.  She went free form, placing the slices in what appeared to be no particular order.  Since the caramel was hot, I poured it over both the pans.

We then added the cake batter to the pans.  Again, I faithfully followed the method and she spooned, smoothed and generally did her own thing.  This is probably the quality I love the most about her, she listens and understands direction but then is willing to try something different if she feels it's the better way.

After the bake, we turned out the cakes and while both were delicious, it’s pretty clear that the one produced by a four year child is more attractive and well prepared.  I’ve never been happier to lose!

Pear and Apple Upside Down Cake


11 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup powdered milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Make the caramel sauce by combining 3 tablespoons of butter, the maple syrup, brown sugar and a pinch of salt in a sauce pan.  Bring to a simmer while stirring the ingredients together. When the mixture starts to foam and reduce add in the powdered milk, stir to incorporate then remove from the heat.

Arrange the apples and pears on the bottom of an 9 inch round baking pan, alternating apple and pear slices.  Pour the caramel over the fruit and let cool.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt together in a small bowl.  Whisk or sift to remove lumps.

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the vanilla and then the eggs one at a time and continue mixing until a light, fluffy batter results.

Add 1/3 of the flour mix to the creamed butter and sugar.  Add1/2 of the milk to the creamed butter and sugar and combine.  Add another third of flour and the remainder of the milk, and mix.  Being careful not to over-mix, add the remaining flour and combine.

Pour the batter over the fruit and using a spatula smooth the top to prevent lumps and to push the batter into the spaces between the fruit.

Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pan.  Continue baking for another 20 to 30 minutes or until the top is set.  A toothpick inserted into the batter should come out clean when finished baking.

Cool for 10 minutes and turn the cake over onto a serving platter.  Serve the cake while still warm or at room temperature, if you can wait that long!