Sunday, March 7, 2010

Upside-down Pear Gingerbread Cake

A few weeks ago I picked up a lot of pears at my weekend farmers market. It was also apple season though, and apples travel a lot better than pears do for lunches at work. At the same time, Mark Bittman posted a recipe in the New York Times for an upside-down pear cake, and I knew I had to make my own version with my extra fruit.

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 egg
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.


  1. This sounds,and looks, SO yummy! Mom used to make pineapple upside down cake, and it was one of my favorites; gingerbread was another regular of hers -- both: "comfort" foods for me, to this day); but since pineapples are a no-no for me now, and pears are my "go-to" fruit, I'm really excited about trying this. Wish me luck in turning it over! xoxo

  2. Good luck! It's not actually very hard to turn over--I found that the syrupy bottom doesn't stick to the skillet. But do be sure you have a platter big enough; I had to search high and low to find a 12" plate to serve it on! A 9" skillet or cake pan might work better if you don't have a honking big circular platter.

  3. Thanks for the tip! One question: What DO you DO with all the yummy deserts I see you fixing all the time?!? (I can't believe you eat them all-- a taste or two, maybe...but the rest...?)

  4. Well I live with five other girls--that helps! I also often bring sweets to Lee or his friends and if I have far too many I bring them to work. Two dozen cookies can disappear in no time when placed on top of the work microwave. :)



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