Pear-Ginger Upside Down Cake

“An’ I had but one penny in the world, thou should’st have it to buy ginger-bread.”
— William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour Lost

Ginger is one of the tastes of the winter season.  I planned to make some gingerbread, but as I was browsing my recipes, I found this one for a Pear-Ginger Upside-Down Cake, copied from the Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook.  We love the more traditional Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, so I thought this might be a tasty variation.  We are hard-pressed to choose which we like better, although the pear version must be eaten warm.  From now on, I’ll mark both as favorites!

Arranging pears in the bottom of the pan

It fell out of the pan, upside-down onto my plate, with no trouble.

First bite -- yummy

Pear-Ginger Upside-Down Cake
from the Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook

Pear-Ginger Topping
1/4 c butter or margarine
2/3 c packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 pears, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch wedges (I used canned pears)
1/4 c finely chopped crystallized ginger

1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 c finely chopped crystallized ginger
1-1/3 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c packed brown sugar
6 Tbsp butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 c milk

1.  Heat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease bottom and sides of 8- or 9-inch pan with shortening.  In 1-quart saucepan, melt 1/4 c butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Stir in 2/3 c brown sugar.  Heat to boiling; remove from heat.  Stir in 1/2 tsp ground ginger.  Pour into pan; spread evenly.  Arrange pear wedges on sugar mixture, overlapping tightly and making 2 layers if necessary.  Sprinkle 1/4 c crystallized ginger over pears.

2.  In small bowl, toss 1 Tbsp flour and 1/4 c crystallized ginger to coat; set aside.  In another small bowl, mix 1-1/3 c flour, the baking powder and salt; set aside.  In large bowl, beat 1 c brown sugar and 6 Tbsp butter with electric mixer on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, until smooth.  Add vanilla.  Gradually beat in flour mixture alternately with milk.  Stir in ginger-flour mixture.  Spread over pears in pan.

3.  Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.  Cool 15 minutes on wire rack.  then loosen edges of cake with small knife.  Place heatproof plate upside down onto pan; turn plate and pan over.  Serve warm with ginger whipped cream.

Ginger Whipped Cream (I served with vanilla ice cream instead)
1 c whipping (heavy cream)
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger

In chilled medium bowl, beat whipping cream on high speed until it begins to thicken.  Gradually add granulated sugar and 1/4 tsp ground ginger, beating until soft peaks form.

Rhubarb: Mad Red Brain

March 23, 2011

New life in my rhubarb plant

“Like a mad red brain
the involute rhubarb leaf
thinks its way up
through loam.”
     — Jane Kenyon, from “April Chores”

Oh-Oh.  My rhubarb is peaking up in the garden, and I still have a bag of frozen rhubarb in my freezer.  It’s time to use up the old because soon I’ll have more fresh rhubarb than I’ll know what to do with.

The last of the rhubarb from my freezer

I found a new rhubarb recipe in New Flavors for Desserts:  Classic Recipes Redefined by Williams-Sonoma.  It makes a simple, but delicious, rhubarb crisp.  Here is the recipe:

Gingered Rhubarb Crisp
from Williams-Sonoma

1-1/2 lb rhubarb stalks, sliced
3 oranges
1 c granulated sugar
one 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 c quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Place rhubarb in 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  Finely grate the zest from one of the oranges and add it to the dish.  Squeeze 2/3 c juice from the oranges and add to the dish along with the granulated sugar.  Toss the rhubarb mixture with your hands, then spread it out evenly in the baking dish.

In a bowl, combine the ginger, flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, and salt.  Using a fork, toss until blended and then stir in the melted butter until the ingredients are evenly moistened.  Sprinkle the oat mixture over the rhubarb and bake for 15 minutes.  Loosely cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and continue to bake until the topping is browned and the juices are thick and bubbling around the edges of the dish, 15 – 20 minutes longer.  Let the crisp cool, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes before serving.

It’s delicious served warm with vanilla ice cream.

Gingered Rhubarb Crisp

Fresh Ginger Muffins

The minute I read about these Fresh Ginger Muffins in Molly Wizenberg’s January 15th blog post (you can link to her blog here:, I knew I’d be making them.  Molly, a food blogger from Seattle who has also written a book, A Homemade Life, describes food in such a way that it makes me drool. 

These muffins are very, very good.  And the lemony, gingery scent will make your house smell good, too!  Here’s the recipe that I copied from Molly’s blog:

Marion Cunningham’s Fresh Ginger Muffins
Adapted from The Breakfast Book

One (~3-ounce) piece of unpeeled ginger root
¾ cup plus 3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. baking soda

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a muffin tin.

Cut the unpeeled ginger root into large chunks. If you have a food processor, process the ginger until it is in tiny pieces; alternatively, mince by hand. Measure out ¼ cup – or a little more, if you like. It’s better to have too much than too little. Put the ginger and ¼ cup sugar in a small skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has melted and the mixture is hot. Don’t walk away from the pan: this takes only a couple of minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Add to the ginger mixture.

Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or, a mixing bowl, if you plan to use handheld beaters or mix by hand). Beat the butter for a second or two, then add the remaining ½ cup sugar, and beat until smooth. Add the eggs, and beat well. Add the buttermilk, and beat until blended. Add the flour, salt, and baking soda, and beat just until smooth. Add the ginger-lemon mixture, and beat to mix well. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Serve warm.

Yield: 12 muffins

I used paper liners instead of greasing muffin tins.

Mincing fresh ginger in my food processor

Preparing the lemon zest

Melting together sugar and minced ginger

Fresh muffins out of the oven

Delicious Fresh Ginger Muffin

Gingery Banana Bread

April 30, 2009

Speckled bananas, ripe for banana bread

Speckled bananas, ripe for banana bread

Crystallized ginger, the secret ingredient

Crystallized ginger, the secret ingredient

Lumpy batter, ready for pan

Lumpy batter, ready for pan

When life gives you old, spotted bananas, make banana bread!

Over the years I’ve come to rely on two trusted banana bread recipes.  One was my Mom’s recipe, and the other came from a Gold Medal Flour cookbook for children called Alpha-Bakery Children’s Cookbook  ( 

But this year I found another great banana bread recipe in Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table.  The secret ingredients in Molly’s recipe are crystallized ginger and chocolate — an outstanding taste combination.  I’ll be adding this recipe to my repertoire.

You can find this recipe in Molly’s blog, Orangette, at  I’ve copied it here for you:

Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or a chopped chocolate bar)
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (from about 3 large ripe bananas)
1/4 cup well-stirred whole-milk plain yogurt (not lowfat or nonfat)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Set a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a standard-sized (about 9 by 5 inches) loaf pan with cooking spray or butter.

In a small bowl, microwave the butter until just melted. (Take care to do this on medium power and in short bursts; if the heat is too high, butter will sometimes splatter or explode.  Or, alternatively, put the butter in a heatproof bowl and melt in the preheated oven.) Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add the chocolate chips and crystallized ginger and whisk well to combine. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add the mashed banana, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla and stir to mix well. (The same fork works fine for this.) Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and stir gently with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides as needed, until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be thick and somewhat lumpy, but there should be no unincorporated flour. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top.
Bake until the loaf is a deep shade of golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. If the loaf seems to be browning too quickly, tent with aluminum foil.

Cool the loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then tip it out onto the rack, and let it cool completely before slicing–unless you absolutely can’t help yourself, in which case, dig in. 

Fresh out of the oven

Fresh out of the oven

Warm slices

Warm slices