I have recently had the delight in collaborating with designer, writer and fellow vintage lover, Clare Press of Mrs Press, in a series of recipes and illustrations celebrating the launch of our favourite TV show, Downton Abbey series 2 to DVD. We celebrated as only one should, surrounded by delectable treats, champagne and tea, dressed to the nines at the Sir Stamford Hotel tea rooms, Circular Quay.
Over the following weeks I will be sharing with you Clare’s recipes and my accompanying illustrations. The first of these is this syrupy sweet pear upside-down cake, perfect for the abundance of winter pears in season now. An excellent accompaniment to an afternoon’s marriage plotting session in the ever so delicate Countess style of Cora and Violet.
PS, thanks to the lovely Jess from Madison for her article on our collaboration.
Ingredients – cake
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 2/3 cup self-raising flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Ingredients – topping
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
60g unsalted butter – softened
Ingredients – poached pears
1/4 cup caster sugar
5 cups water
Preheat the oven to 180C and lightly grease a 20cm cake tin. Peel, halve and core the pears. To poach, place the water and 1/4 cup caster sugar in a medium sized saucepan, bring to a slow simmer, stirring til the sugar has dissolved. Place the prepared pears in the simmering water and simmer slowly for 20-25min until cooked through. Set aside to cool, then strain and slice thinly. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then gradually add the eggs beating continuously. Sift the flour together with the salt, add half to the butter mixture, followed by half the milk. Beat together well then add the remaining flour, milk and vanilla mixing til well combined. Set aside.
For the topping, mix the butter together with the brown sugar and spread across the base of the prepared tin. Arrange the slices of pears on top of the sugar mix in a spiral pattern. Pour the cake mixture on top and bake for 35-40min.
Remove from the oven and stand for 5min before inverting onto a cake stand. Delicious served warm straight from the oven.