Monday, November 15, 2010

Ginger Pear Upside Down Cake

This is the third post in a series focused on ginger, its health benefits, and the versatility of the root in recipes. I would love to hear your favorite uses for ginger, so please feel free to comment or email if you have something you'd like to share. If you missed the first two posts in this series, just click on the links below:
Ginger, Lemon & Honey: Tea for the Season
Carrot Ginger Soup

Now that the time has changed, my body has shifted to a different schedule.  I'm all yawns and heavy eyelids by about 9:30 at night, and I can't stay under the covers any later than 8 am, even on the weekend.  This schedule suits me, though.  Getting up early and taking my time, having some tea, and gazing at the now-orange leaves of the tree outside my window as I think and type and relax with just me.  I can see myself working from home some day and absolutely loving it.

For now I guess I'll settle for the Saturday morning blogging session.  Today's post is very exciting for me for two reasons.  The first is that I get to share more of what I've learned about ginger.  Now that I've read that line, I realize that I'm much more interested in the second reason.  I will be sharing with you a recipe of my own devising that happens to be baked, gluten-free, and a serious party in your mouth.  

I'm pretty pleased with myself.

Before I get to the recipe, however, I wanted to talk more about ginger.  I hope you aren't bored with my friend, ginger, just yet.  Her time is limited as the star of this show, and I want to give her the attention she deserves while the spotlight is still on.

Well, we've already discussed some of the amazing healing properties that ginger possesses.  Now I want to shift gears a little bit and talk more about gingers roots (I'm not big on puns, but that one's pretty good).  Where does ginger come from?  What is ginger's story?  Here goes...

Ginger is indigenous to southern China, it seems, where the root is still cultivated today.  Like most spices, ginger has traveled the globe, and is now cultivated in countries all over Asia, West Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.  India is one of the top producers of ginger.  

I personally worked on a farm, harvesting ginger in Hawaii for export to the mainland. It was hard work but also interesting to see how the plants grow.

The list of cultures and their uses for ginger is a fairly long one.  Here are the highlights...

In India, ginger is used to spice lentils and curries.
In the Philippines, ginger is eaten in the form of candy for sore throats and hoarseness.
Koreans slice up ginger for kimchi.
The Japanese eat pickled ginger alongside sushi. (So do I!)
Jamaicans make a delicious carbonated beverage known as ginger beer.
Ginger is included in many Chinese medicinal remedies.

Clearly, this root has made its mark upon the Earth.  I've had a wonderful time getting creative with it over the past week or so.  This recipe has been my favorite so far.  It's a spin on the well-known pineapple upside down cake, but since pineapples aren't for sale at the farmers market, I decided to use pears instead.

And since the focus was on ginger here, I wanted a darker cake, hence the molasses. I'm always thrilled to break out my cast iron, but if you don't have a cast iron skillet, I imagine a cake pan would work.  Just melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the sugar, and cook it on the stove top for a minute before pouring it into the cake pan.  The remainder of the instructions should still apply.

If you're interested in making this cake non-gluten-free, just use  1 1/2 C. of AP flour, and omit the garbanzo flour, potato starch and xanthan gum.

Gluten-free Ginger Pear Upside Down Cake
makes 1- 10" cake

3/4 C. sorghum flour
1/4 C. potato starch
1/2 C. tapioca starch
1/2 tsp. guar gum
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 T. cinnamon
3 large eggs, separated
3/4 C. sugar
1/4 C. coconut oil
1/4 C. molasses 
1/2-2/3 C. peeled, minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
6 T. unsalted butter
3/4 C. brown sugar, packed
2 large, ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4-1/2" thick (I used Bosc)
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Whisk the first seven ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
  • In another medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, oil, molasses, ginger, and vanilla.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix well.
  • Beat the egg whites until they are stiff, but not dry, and fold them into the batter.  Be careful not to over-beat the egg whites - they will turn grainy.
  • Melt the butter in a 10" cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add the brown sugar and cook, stirring continuously, until the sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Allow the sugar to cool slightly, and then lay the pear slices in a circular pattern inside the pan.  Pour the batter over the pears.
  • Place the skillet into the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool for a minute or two, and then immediately invert it onto a serving plate.  If you allow the cake to cool in the skillet, the sugar will harden, and the cake will stick to the pan.
  • Slice, serve, and smile.

This cake was such a hit at my house, that I'm making it again as part of our Thanksgiving feast.  I highly recommend serving a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the plate beside it.  It is to die for.

1 comment:

  1. If this is half as good as it looks I'm going to be in heaven. Thanks for posting this!


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