Photograph by Martyn Thompson Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero Prop Styling by Theo Vamvounakis

Drunken Upside-Down Cake

Desserts from Issue 4 – Fall / Winter 2014 – Cocoon

The season’s bounty is on glorious display in this moist cake of juicy, nestled-together pear halves, and currants, figs, and cranberries that have taken a nice, long whiskey bath. We like to think of it as a lazy, fall fruit cake—short on effort, long on pleasure.

serves 8 to 10

  • ½ cup dried cranberry
  • 2 Tbsp dried currants
  • 4 dried figs
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ cup rye whiskey or bourbon
  • 1 ¾ sticks butter, softened, divided
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 pears, halved and cored
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup whole milk

  • 1

    Simmer cranberries, currants, and figs in whiskey with cinnamon stick 5 minutes then let stand 1 hour or overnight. Drain, reserving liquid. Slice figs in half.

  • 2

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter sides of a 9-inch cake pan. Smear a layer of butter using ¾ of a stick on bottom of pan. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Arrange pears, cut sides down, and dried fruit over sugar.

  • 3

    Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.

  • 4

    Beat granulated sugar and remaining butter with an electric mixer until pale and light. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Beat in vanilla and reserved whiskey. On low speed, beat in half of flour mixture, then milk, then remaining flour. Gently spread batter over fruit.

  • 5

    Bake until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cake stand in its pan set on a rack 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate to cool completely.