Adorable as well as delicious, these petite upside-down cakes are perfect for fall gatherings. They look impressive yet are really quite simple to make in ramekins or in a muffin pan.
Black Currant Jam and Pear Mini Upside-Down Cakes
For the topping:
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbs. sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped, seeds reserved
4 small pears, such as Bartlett or Bosc, peeled, cored and halved, or 2 large pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup (5 oz./155 g) black currant jam
For the cakes:
1 3/4 cups (9 oz./280 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom (optional)
8 Tbs. (1 stick) (4 oz./125 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (8 oz./250 g) sugar
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) buttermilk
Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and flour eight 3-inch (7.5-cm) ramekins or 8 cups of a standard muffin pan.
To prepare the topping, in a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar and vanilla bean seeds. Divide the butter mixture between the prepared ramekins or muffin cups, spreading it evenly to the edges. If using pear halves, place them, cut side down, on top of the butter mixture. If using sliced pears, fan them out, overlapping the slices slightly. Then spread the jam over the pears, dividing evenly. Set aside.
To make the cakes, in a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer running, add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to high and beat for 30 seconds.
Spoon the batter over the jam, dividing evenly and filling each ramekin or muffin cup about three-fourths full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes.
Let the cakes cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges to loosen the cakes. Invert them onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Serves 8.
Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen