Hello Beacon friends! You can now find our doughnuts and cakes at Beacon Falls Cafe every week! Doughnuts are available exclusively on Saturdays, but cakes will be featured on the dessert menu throughout the week. A new cake will take residency each month; October's cake is our rich, luscious chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream and caramel drizzle. From what I've heard, it's quite loved already!
I've been a bit obsessed with upside-down cake since I first found Joy the Baker's recipe for strawberry upside-down cake, which came into my life in the heart of June when the strawberries were ripe and plentiful and I set the unrealistic (though, at the time, completely logical) goal to go pick my own organic strawberries every single weekend from mid-June through early July. That did not happen, of course. Life got in the way, I was enjoying floating around pools on my doughnut-shaped float, etc, etc. So, I went strawberry picking only once at a local organic farm, but I picked so many pounds of strawberries that day that I was put in the (un)fortunate position of having to find an arsenal of strawberry recipes to help use up my rapidly rotting mountain of fruit.
Thus, upside-down cake.
Now that the seasons are turning and I've stopped mourning my beloved berries and have moved on to other fruits, I've re-focused my gaze upon the upside-down cake. In essence, the upside-down cake is the baker's best friend. It can be made with nearly any stone fruit or berry, and - of course - pineapple. It's the perfect base element; an unassuming, yet wildly satisfying and effortlessly beautiful cake that begs to be adorned with bright, juicy fruit and spiced however much or little your heart desires.
Alas, the humble pear gets its moment. Sweet, ripe Anjou pears take center stage and cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon amp it all up. Am I in love with this upside-down cake? Absolutely, indubitably. Am I encouraging you to take this already-perfect recipe and work your kitchen wizardry by modifying it with any fruits, spices, extracts, or herbs you can get your hands on? I think you know the answer.
PEAR CARDAMOM UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE
Modified from Joy the Baker.
Yields: one 8-inch cake
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 pear - halved, cored, and thinly sliced (I used an Anjou pear, skin left on)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup diced pear
2/3 cup sour cream (full-fat Greek yogurt would work, too)
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2) Place the 2 tbsp of butter in the cake pan and place in the oven. Once the butter is melted, remove pan from the oven. Using two pot holders, tilt the pan around until the sides and bottom are evenly coated with butter. Set aside to cool.
3) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon. Set aside.
4) In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream the softened butter and brown sugar on medium speed. Cream until slightly pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop mixer, scrape down the bowl with a spatula, and add egg and vanilla extract. Beat for 1 minute on medium speed.
5) Turn the mixer off, scrape the bowl, and add half of the dry ingredients and half of the sour cream. Beat on medium speed until just combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients and sour cream and beat again until just combined. Turn off the mixer, and stir in the diced pear with a wooden spoon or spatula. The batter should be nice and thick at this point.
6) Sprinkle 1/4 cup brown sugar into the melted butter in the cake pan. Lay the pear slices down over the butter and sugar in a single layer all around the pan. Spoon the batter over the pear slices and gently spread it evenly with a spatula. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
7) Let the cake rest for 10 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the cake and inverting the pan onto a cake plate. Give the bottom of the pan a few taps to help the cake slide out, then carefully lift the pan up.
8) Admire your masterpiece. Serve warm with sweetened whipped cream, or all on its own.
A funny thing happened. My sweet friend Lagusta, who owns an incredible chocolate shop in New Paltz, suggested that we start selling my vegan from-scratch doughnuts in her shop every Saturday. Two weekends into this beautiful partnership and I'm happy to say that my doughnuts have been selling out each day! Because I'm a one-girl operation, I'm only able to make and deliver two dozen to Lagusta's each weekend - so they're a hurry-up-and-get-there-quickly kind of deal. But, man oh man, I am really excited about the positive response so far and can't wait to try out new flavors. I'll be posting every Saturday morning on the Darling Kitchen's Facebook page to let you know which flavors are available that day. Keep an eye out, and make your way to Lagusta's for some doughnuts and her incredible chocolates and confections. Everything she creates is truly divine.
If you don't live in the Hudson Valley, you can purchase her chocolates online at lagustasluscious.com. Sadly, my doughnuts cannot be shipped - but, if you live locally, you can place an order by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm so excited to announce that The Darling Kitchen won two prizes at Safe Harbors of the Hudson's annual Cupcake-a-Palooza competition and fundraiser! We went home with honors for Best Overall Professional Cupcakes and Most Beautiful Professional Cupcakes. There were also awards for Best Overall Amateur, Most Beautiful Amateur, Most Original Flavor, and Public Favorite. The cupcake flavors we baked for the contest were (seen from top to bottom in the photo above): lavender honey grapefruit, french toast, and chocolate peanut butter. We received so many lovely compliments on the cupcakes and met some really wonderful bakers and community members through this sweet event. The day was so much fun and we're so happy to have been a part of it. Many thanks to Safe Harbors for the hard work they put into this event!
I'm thrilled to finally launch The Darling Kitchen website and begin sharing recipes, musings, and sugary excitement for all that is to come!
There's so much to work on, and I have a few baking projects underway that will require most of my attention in the coming days. But I'm looking forward to posting here regularly.