Caramelized Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake
1 C. (4 oz.) blanched almonds
2/3 C. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 C. butter, room temperature (divided)
1 C. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 C. fresh orange juice
3 T. packed light brown sugar
2 Anjou pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices
Preheat oven to 350° F.
In food processor fitted with metal blade, process almonds until they are ground fine, almost like bread crumbs.
In medium bowl, combine ground almonds, flour and baking powder. Stir to blend.
With electric mixer on medium speed or in food processor fitted with metal blade, beat 6 tablespoons of the butter until softened. Gradually beat in sugar and continue to beat mixture until it is thick and pale. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Gradually beat in flour mixture and orange juice, mixing just to combine. Set aside.
To prepare pears: In well-seasoned 9-inch cast-iron skillet, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar, stir to dissolve, and cook until bubbly. Add pear slices in single layer. Cook in the syrup for about 2 minutes a side, or until both sides are lightly caramelized. (Use tongs to move them around.) Be careful syrup does not become too dark. Pears will exude juice and help to keep caramel from burning. Remove from heat and let cool 3 minutes.
Pour batter over pear mixture and gently spread it around to cover pears. Bake in preheated oven 50 to 60 minutes, or until skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Remove from oven. Let cool in skillet 10 minutes, then invert onto a cake plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.