Honey-Glazed Pear Upside-Down Cake

  • ¼ c. chestnut or other intense honey
  • 4-5 Bosc pears, peeled, cored and quartered lengthwise
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ c. plus 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • ¼ c. sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degees. In a 9-inch ovenproof skillet (not nonstick), simmer honey until it begins to reduce, carmelize and darken in color, 6-10 minutes. Do not let honey burn;  if it starts to smell burned turn off heat.

Arrange pears, close together and cut-side down, in a circular pattern in skillet, stem ends pointing toward center. Simmer over medium heat, turning them from one cut side to the other, until they begin to  turn golden, about 10 minutes. Flip pears to their curved side and scatter with thyme sprigs if using. Transfer skillet to oven and roast, uncovered, until very tender, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together sugar and lemon zest. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Fold in flour and salt; stir in ½ cup butter. When pears are soft, remove skillet from oven, discard thyme sprigs and brush edges with 1 Tbsp. melted butter. Pour batter on roasted pears and scatter almonds over batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Let cake cool for 30 minutes in pan. Loosen edges of cake and carefully invert onto serving platter.

From New York Times 10/17/07.

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