Begin by pouring a maple sugar sauce into the bottom of a circular oven-proof pan; I used a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Lay peeled and sliced pears in concentric circles.
Top with your favorite cake batter--I chose gingerbread to feel warm and comforting on a cold Seattle day. Bake according to the cake recipe; the pears will caramelize on the bottom.
Let the cake cool slightly and run a knife around the edge. Put a large platter on top and invert the pan so the skillet is on top and the plate underneath. Hold your breath and pick the pan up--hopefully your cake has turned out underneath!
Pear Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake
3 T plus ½ C butter
¾ cup maple syrup
¼ cup packed brown sugar
3 to 4 pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
½ C white sugar
1 C light molasses
1 C hot water
2 ½ C flour
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp cloves
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a small pan over medium heat; add maple syrup and brown sugar and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook for another 2 minutes; remove from heat and set aside. When mixture has cooled a bit, pour it into a 9- or 10-inch baking pan and arrange pear slices in an overlapping circle on top.
Cream ½ C butter and white sugar, add egg, beat well. Combine molasses and water. Sift together dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients alternately with the molasses to the butter-sugar mixture. Pour over the pears. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Yummy warm or cold.