Spring is well and truly with us in southern Australia - we are fluctuating from very warm days to the central heating turning itself on early in the morning - however, this is a cake for all seasons; in the cooler months it can be made with pears and apples, as it is in this recipe; in the summer the same method and ingredients are used to bring out the best in plums and apricots. Whichever fruit you use, the flavour is enhanced and enriched by the layer of caramel which coats the bottom of the pan; then, being an upside down cake, this becomes the topping for the fruit once the cake is turned out of its tin.
The shot above shows the cake tin lined with caramel and poached pears before the cake mixture is added; the photo at the bottom is the finished cake turned out onto a plate.
The first step is to make the caramel - this is a process which requires few ingredients but a good deal of care - boiling sugar can give very nasty burns; it's not difficult but you do need to pay attention. Poaching the pears is a simple step, and the cake mixture itself couldn't be easier, it's based on the classic pound cake combination - simply a pound each of flour, butter, eggs and sugar. I have adapted this basic mixture to incorporate spices and flavourings to complement the fruit and the season; in this case ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon; warming spices for winter.