Here is a buttery upside-down pear cake that can be made with apples instead of pears in which case you’d have apple pandowdy but I find that pears make the most delectable version. Dark brown sugar creates a vivid glaze, so be sure to use that if you can.

SERVES 6 TO 8

4 tablespoons butter

в…“ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

4 medium ripe but slightly firm pears (preferably Bosc), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

CAKE

4 tablespoons butter, softened

в…” cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

2 cups unbleached white flour

ВЅ teaspoon cinnamon

3 teaspoons baking powder

ВЅ teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

Sweetened whipped cream (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375В°F. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over low heat, then brush some of it on the sides of a 9 x 9-inch cake pan. Mix the brown sugar with the butter in the saucepan and stir until melted. Pour into the cake pan and spread evenly.
  2. Arrange the pear slices in neat rows on top of the glaze. If you have any leftover slices, chop them and evenly distribute them over the first layer.
  3. With an electric beater cream 4 tablespoons butter, the sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until blended. Add the egg and beat again until creamy.
  4. In a separate bowl mix the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt together thoroughly. Alternately add this dry mixture and the milk to the butter mixture and beat after each addition until well blended.
  5. Pour the batter over the pears and spread evenly. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges by inserting a knife all around. Lay a platter over the cake and invert. Serve warm or at room temperature, as is or with sweetened whipped cream.

NOTE: Leftover cake can be reheated in a slow oven (300В°F) for 15 minutes or so, or until warm.