Pears and ginger are made for each other. Pears are cooling to the body, while warming ginger aids digestion. This cake recipe is really quick to throw together. The trick is to have the... butter soft and malleable. For best results, use a cast iron skillet if you have one.
Grease an 8-inch cast iron skillet or 8-inch cake pan with the extra tablespoon of butter. Drizzle the greased pan with maple syrup or sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Arrange the pear quarters neatly on top in a swirl, with the narrow ends pointing toward the middle. Set aside.
Combine the softened butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat the mixture with an electric whisk until creamy and light in color. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the vanilla. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, ginger, and allspice in a small, separate bowl. Use a spatula to stir the dry ingredients into the wet batter until just blended. If the mixture is stiff, add a little milk, a tablespoon at a time, to bring it to dropping consistency (where a small amount of the batter will fall off the spoon if gently shaken). Fold in the candied ginger.
Spoon the batter gently over the pears with a spatula and smooth lightly to cover them. Bake on a middle rack in the oven for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and let the cake sit for 5 minutes. Then run a palette or butter knife around the edge, set a plate over the cake, and turn the whole thing upside down. Tap the skillet all over and lift it off the cake. Serve warm with chopped candied ginger and a dollop of ice cream or Greek yogurt.
If you cannot find whole-wheat pastry flour, then substitute half whole-wheat flour and half all-purpose flour. Just swapping in whole wheat flour will result in a drier and grittier cake.
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