Pear and coconut upside down cake

This is a variation on the easy chocolate cake recipe. I first made it last week to use up some manky pears that been in the fridge a few days too long. The consensus was that it was pretty nice, although I thought it was a bit sweet and could do with some citrus notes, hence the orange. Mum thought lemon would be too strong but I'm not so sure. I'm also thinking that other possibilities might be; the inclusion of dark chocolate chips, mixing some yoghurt in with the milk (I often do this with pancakes), lowering the sugar content, cooking the pears in red wine or port, perhaps using some honey, including some other spices and or nuts. Not all at once, but one variation at a time. Anyway, I had some doubts with this cake after a fraught mixing process in which my helper tried to eat the butter and sugar before it got mixed into the cake, but once again, this cake was lovely. Even if I do say so myself.


4 ripe but not too soft packenham pears
1 navel orange
1 1/3 cups of self-raising flour
1 1/4 cups of firmly packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons of dessicated coconut
125 butter at room temperature (or softened in the microwave)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
2/3 milk
some extra butter and sugar for the upsidedowny part of the cake

Making the cake
  • Line and grease a 22cm springform cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Using a vegetable peeler or zester, scrape the orange part of the orange rind from the orange and chop finely. Discard any pieces that have white on them.
  • Core the pears and cut into eights. Add the orange juice and about a table spoon or so of sugar depending on the sweetness of the pears. Cover and cook in the microwave for about three minutes on high until the pears are just translucent.
  • Place the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric beater on high until the mixture is pale(r). It will not achieve a silky texture because of the coconut, but it should look kind of glossy.
  • Sprinkle about a table spoon of brown sugar on the base of the cake tin. Dot with thin slices of butter (less than a tablespoon all up). Arrange the pears over this, reserving the syrup for later. Cover with the cake batter and gently smooth the top.
  • Bake for about an hour or until a knife comes out of the middle of the cake cleanly. Rest for at least ten minutes before turning onto a serving plate.
  • Heat the remaining syrup in the microwave on high for three to five minutes or until it is gooey. Spread over cake, smoothing with a knife dipped in hot water if necessary. Serve with cream.

Easy chocolate cake

This is adapted from a cake featured in the Sunday Life section of The Age newspaper back in 2004. It has become my standard, we need a cake today, cake. I use milk instead of water and tend to ice it with a glace icing instead of ganache, partly because I like icing sugar icings and partly because it seems to suit this cake. This is as easy as making a packet cake. Really.

Cake ingredients
1 1/3 self-raising flour
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups of brown sugar
125g butter at room temperature (or softened but not melted in the microwave)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2/3 cup milk

Making the cake
  • Pre-heat oven to 180C, line and grease a 22cm cake tin (I use a tin with a removeable base).
  • Measure and place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  • Beat with an electric beater until the mixture is pale and silky looking, like with packet mixes.
  • Pour into the tin and smooth out. Bake for about an hour or until a knife pierced into the centre comes out smoothly. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before de-tinning onto a serving plate. (I know I should put it on a rack to cool but rarely do as we often eat this cake fairly warm.)
Icing the cake
1 teaspoon very soft butter
icing sugar
unsweetened cocoa
water to mix

Mix ingredients until you get a thick and smooth icing. I usually use about half a 250 gram pack of icing sugar with cocoa to taste. For best results let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes before icing.