We're having people over and since they are mostly people who, due to travel schedules, I have not seen since their birthdays or won't see until after their birthday, and my birthday is in a little more than a week, I decided to make a Collective Birthday Cake. I'd found a recipe for an apple upside down cake that looked magical, but my boiled cider was back in Massachusetts and anyway I felt like pears because summer is almost over and then no more good pears until next year, but we're just getting into apples.
And anyway, pears and ginger because Central Market in Austin makes these FUCKEN AMAZING pear ginger muffins and I don't get any more until December at the earliest.
I figured I could swap in concentrated pear juice or pear nectar for the boiled apple cider, but couldn't find any (or any pear butter), so I wandered around the grocery store meeping softly until I happened to spot canned pears in pear juice and I said to myself, "Self! That is an easy shortcut!" and so I bought some.
I pureed them in the blender (with the juice) and then I tossed them on the stove in a saucepan and reduced the hell out of them, until I had basically pear-sauce.
Which I used in place of the boiled cider.
I also swapped out the recommended spices for lots of ginger (fresh, crystallized, and powdered) and a little vanilla, and smaller quantities of cardamom, and cloves--and a pinch of salt--and I gave the sliced pears a nice grate of pink salt after laying them out in the bottom of the pan, and I used agave nectar instead of corn syrup (and less sugar than called for in either the topping or the batter) and I swapped half the vegetable oil in the batter for melted cooled butter, because I like butter.
And rather than reserving any of the topping, I just put it all in the pan, because having reduced the sugar and the syrup, I had less.
Other than that, I followed the recipe mostly.
The cake is currently baking, so I will have to report back, but I will say that the batter was one of the best things I've ever tasted.
ETA: Cake photos!
Right side up, which is to say upside-down:
Upside down, which is to say, right side up: