Monday, March 8, 2010

Spiced Pear Upside Down Cake in a Skillet: a Go-Getter's Guide

So, you're being stalked. You've noticed that man in a hat and trench coat that coincidentally happens to frequent your laundromat, tailor, fishmonger, and bucket supply emporium. You can't see through his dark glasses, and you're scared. Not for yourself, of course, but for your most prized possession: the only extant copy of a certain pear cake recipe.

Why is it the only copy? Your mother wrote it down so you wouldn't forget the family's most valued secret. Why did she write it down? Well, you suffer from acute extreme memory loss.

Fortunately, you have a plan to rid yourself of the interloper. Actually, it is the eighteenth in a series of ingenious plans, but you forgot all the others. You walk to the kitchen window, gazing out upon your well-tended vegetable garden, and there he is, crouching behind the cabbages.

"Hmph!" You harrumph to yourself. "If he wants the recipe so bad, he can have it!"

Cackling gleefully, you gather your materials and set to work. The tattered recipe is written in your mother's stoic scrawl. It reads:

6 tablespoons of butter
3/4 cup of brown sugar
4 Bosc pears of moderate size
2 nectarines
1 and 1/3 cups of cake flour
3/4 cup of sugar
3 tablespoons of ground ginger
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

With a steely eye and a steady hand, you preheat your oven to 350 degrees and melt the butter over low heat in your mother's hand-me-down 10-inch cast iron skillet. Ever the multi-tasker, you peel and quarter the pears while the butter slowly degrades into a frothy golden mess.

The man is still outside, only he is now lurking in your begonias, the swine. He is taking photographs with a very undercover camera.

After removing your skillet from the heat, you sprinkle it with a ton of brown sugar and arrange the pears in an artistic, yet sinister design. You search for a very long time until you find where you store your mixing bowls. In a large bowl, you whisk together the flour, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt, making sure to switch hands every so often to insure even toning of your already muscular forearms. Gently, you chop the nectarines and mix them into the big bowl. In a smaller bowl, you whisk together the eggs, oil, and vanilla.

To confuse your stalker, who is now taking notes, you pretend to add coriander, thyme, nutmeg, and a hefty dose of white wine vinegar.

You chuckle at your own ingenuity as you add the egg mixture to the contents of the large bowl, stirring with firm hand to make sure everything is properly incorporated. Sneakily you reach into the secret compartment of your spice cabinet and feel around until you find your bottle of nitroglycerin. Just before you dump it into the batter, you reconsider.

"What if I had a heart attack while this cake was in the oven?" You ask yourself. "I had better save this... just in case."

You replace the bottle and grab the cyanide instead. Unfortunately, it is empty, but it has a note attached which reads:

Used this as insect repellent. Please replace at earliest convenience."

Grumbling, you look for something else, finally settling on chloroform. After dumping the contents of the bottle into your batter and disposing of the bottle, you pour the contents of your mixing bowl over the pears in your mother's skillet. Then, you put it in the oven and wait 40 minutes, or until a tester toothpick comes out clean.

There's a man in your garden. He's wearing a trench and sunglasses, and he seems to be very interested in you. Assuming him to be one of your many secret admirers, you open the window and hail him.

"Yoohoo!" You wave a handkerchief and smile. "I've just baked some cake. Would you like some?"

"Don't mind if I do! I've been sitting out here every day hoping that you might ask that. Sorry if I've been a bit of a pest."

Since your cake has now cooled for twenty minutes in the skillet, you invert it on a plate and cut the man a hearty slice. Like any man receiving free gourmet dessert, he ravenously devours the cake and collapses senseless beneath your window.

You find this a bit surprising, as your cooking seldom has this effect on people. Then, you see the bottle of cyanide sitting on your counter. You read the note in horror.

"Insect repellent," you mutter, "a bit of a pest!"

The cake smells lovely, but you resist the urge to splurge. Instead, you haul the body into your neighbor's yard and decide to see a doctor about your memory loss. Later, you are surprised to see the police at your neighbor's house. Crying, she comes to you for advice.

Consoling soul that you are, you offer her a slice of your mother's famous cake.

Adapted from Epicurious, as usual.


  1. Impressive skillet cake. Freaky-ass camera!

  2. This looks and sounds delicious. I love spice cakes, ginger snaps, ginger bread cookies, etc. I eat so much ginger, I'm surprised I don't have red hair.