For someone who feels so much aversion towards the taste of pure alcohol, I sure do love my desserts bathed in rum--evaporated rum, that is. I can't tell if it's my love for the ambiguity of bitter-sweet that is to blame for, or recurring memories of childhood weaving through my mind--memories that are so perfectly delightful and fresh that re-living them is quite literally just a blink away. You know, the kind of recollection in which you sense the smell and setup of your surroundings? And without exaggerating matters too much, I can hardly decipher whether it didn't all, indeed, happen yesterday. Those were some great times I had with my best friends Maximiliano and Denis back in Argentina (yes, I was the biggest tomboy), and when Los Tres Mosqueteros, as we nobly called ourselves, were around, good times were bound to be had.
Coming home from school often meant doing anything to scheme my way out of homework until it was probably a bit too late. Admittedly, I wasn't the most responsible six year old, but I also wasn't completely at fault. Because who could resist the smell of cake in the oven drifting from their house right to my doorstep? Through concrete walls and all. Though crammed we were in their cozy little kitchen like a can of sardines, their mom never failed to make us feel useful and appreciated. I imagine she needed to get things done in a rush and didn't always want our unsolicited "help", but the fact that she allowed us to pour the batter and then lick the bowl and spoon, made all the difference for me. She had a knack for preparing cake batter from scratch--a form of art that I wasn't familiar with due to my non-baking Korean upbringing. Oftentimes she would douse the baked product in evaporated rum and I never thought twice about it, since I knew it was the best darn cake to ever grace my six years of life. From that day forward I recall pledging to myself that I, too, would someday be a master baker like she was (from which I'm obviously decades away). I, too, aspire to create these kinds of memories for children starting with Selah, or more immediately, for those of you who take the time to read my weekly ramblings (thank you!).
So I hope you find these cute, childhood inspired upside down cakes worth the try. The slices of pear soaked in rum are to die for when combined with a sweet and fluffy cake batter. I credit their amazing texture to a generous helping of greek yogurt and the extra step of usingsifted flour. It may seem burdensome at first, but I promise that sifting quickly becomes therapeutic, and it will make all the difference when you see those pillowy pockets thanks to the combination of fine, dry ingredients. When the directions state to use 2 cups of sifted flour, I mean that the already-sifted-flour should equal up to 2 cups. In other words, do not sift 2 cups and call it a day because you will end up with too little flour and too much liquid. This may seem like basic advice, but we'd be surprised how many of us make this mistake if we're not paying close attention.
I suggest soaking the pear slices for 1.5-2 hours for mild taste. I'm strongly partial to a distinctive pairing of bitter-sweet though, so I aimed for 3 hours. Greg veers away from all kinds of alcohol when the taste is dominating due to personal reasons, namely his past habits from which he found utmost freedom, so I omitted the rum altogether for him and it turned out perfect as well. I hope you give this a try, friends! Now, I'm curious to know who inspired you to bake and cook!
Rum Drenched Pear and Yogurt Coffee Cake
Makes 5 six inch cakes, or 2 eight inch cakes
Time: 40-50 minutes including baking time, 1.5-2 hours for soaking in rum
Equipment: five 6 inch cake pans (I just used two pans and one large pan)
Ingredients for drenching
2 pears, sliced fairly thin
1 1/2 cups rum
1 stick of cinnamon (optional)
Ingredients for cake
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp unsalted room temperature butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp of the remaining rum from drenched pears
Soak the pears about 1.5-2 hours ahead of time. Place pear slices in a bowl, pour the rum, place a cinnamon stick, seal, and soak for 1.5-2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375F (191 celsius). For the cake, sift enough flour to make 2 cups. If you need to, sift it first into a large bowl to ensure you get 2 cups worth. Then gingerly transfer exactly 2 cups (since you might need more or less flour) to a mixing bowl. Add baking powder, baking soda, salt, and stir gently a few times. In a separate bowl, add cubed room temp butter, sugar, eggs, greek yogurt, vanilla, rum, and whisk until well incorporated. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and gently fold with a rubber spatula to incorporate. Don't mix too much or it will result in a dense cake.
Place the soaked pear slices through the bottom of your cake pans. Pour cake batter until it's about three-fourths of the way up to the top. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or a little longer until it's golden on top and the middle isn't jiggly. Sprinkle with confectioner sugar or serve with mascarpone cheese, so good!
What fond memories do you have of spending time in the kitchen as a child?