Oregon – Pear Cake

To celebrate fall, we head to Oregon for some Pear Cake!
Pear is the state fruit of Oregon due to large crops that grow in the Rogue River Valley and the near the Columbia River. More than 80% of the US pears come from the Pacific Northwest due to the excellent growing climate for this tasty fruit.
The wood from the pear tree is often used to make furniture and instruments.
This pear cake is an upside down cake. Any type of pear should work fine as long as the pears are firm. If they are over ripe and/or mushy, they will fall apart during the baking of the cake.

Pear Cake

3/4 c butter (1/4 c for caramel and 1/2 c for cake)
3/4 c packed brown sugar
3 medium pears, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices (any type of pear will work as long as they are firm)
1 c white sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1 T vanilla
1 t cinnamon
1 1/2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a 9″ cast iron skillet or cake pan, melt 1/4 c butter and brown sugar on stovetop over low heat. Mix with a fork until butter is melted and all of the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat.
Beat the 2 egg whites in a mixer until soft peaks form. Gently transfer to a small bowl.
Combine the rest of the butter (1/2 c) with the white sugar in mixer until all of the sugar is incorporated. Add egg yolks and vanilla and mix briefly until combined.
In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the butter mixture in 3 steps, mixing gently after each addition. Mix until just combined.
Take about 1/3 of the egg whites and mix with the batter. Gently fold in the rest of the beaten egg whites.
Assemble the cake by first laying down the pear slices in the skillet in a nice pattern. Try to cover the entire surface of the pan, filling in any gaps with smaller pieces. As this is an upside down cake, the bottom will become the top after inverting. Spoon the batter over the pears, trying not to disturb the pattern.
Bake at 350 F for 45-50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Let the cake cool for 20 minutes, then invert onto a serving platter.

Adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart for Plum Upside-Down Cake