Pear Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake
With sweet pears and spicy gingerbread, this Pear Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake is a perfect holiday, or any day, dessert. Serve it plain or with ice cream and caramel!
I am a big pear fan. And especially when it’s time for holiday desserts or salads! So when my blogging group decided to cook with pears, I knew it was time to update my 2018 Pear Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake post.
Pears and gingerbread go together like… peanut butter and chocolate… or cookies and milk. They’re each good separately but put them together and you get something truly special!
What is an Upside-Down Cake?
In case you aren’t familiar with upside-down cake, I thought I’d give you a little background.
Per Wikipedia ” An upside-down cake is a cake that is baked “upside-down” in a single pan, with its toppings at the bottom of the pan. When removed from the oven, the finished upside-down preparation is flipped over and de-panned onto a serving plate…Usually chopped or sliced fruits — such as apples, cherries, peaches, or pineapples— butter, and sugar are placed on the bottom of the pan before the batter is poured in, so that they form a baked-on topping after the cake is inverted.”
The cake is notorious for stressing out bakers who fear disaster when the cake is flipped. Too soon and the hot, liquified topping can run off. Too late and the whole cake can remain stuck to the pan.
It worked beautifully the first time I made it but I am still fearful that that perfect experience won’t be repeated. Luckily it’s popped right out of the pan and looked beautiful every time.
Knocking wood as I type!
Yes, a good upside-down cake is glossy and impressive so it’s not surprising that they are made in many countries. The most traditional American version is the Pineapple Upside Down Cake, topped with pineapple slices with cherries filling the holes. And the French are known for an apple version called a Tarte Tatin.
Step by Step Directions
You start by cooking the butter and sugar for the topping
Mix gingerbread cake then pour over pears
On Types of Molasses
The first time I worked with molasses, on a recipe I got from my mother, I just grabbed one I found at the grocers. The recipe was a disaster.
When I complained that it turned out dark and bitter my mother finally mentioned I needed to use mild molasses.
So a word to the wise–err on the side of milder molasses unless specified by your recipe.
Cast Iron Skillets
This recipe is made in a cast iron skillet and, as a food blogger, I hate to admit that I was afraid of cast iron for years. I think I finally got over it when my mother gave me the family’s old camping skillet and I had to re-season it. Turns out that wasn’t so hard after all.
Of course, modern cast iron comes pre-seasoned so it’s easy and there is real beauty in being able to take a pan from stove top to oven like in this dish.
I have only tried making Pear Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake in a cast iron pan. But I have seen similar recipes where the topping is cooking in a sauce pan, then transferred to a non-stick baking dish. So that should be possible, but I can’t personally attest.
If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, Lodge (not sponsored) is a well-rated and reasonably priced brand—I’ve picked up a few (in different sizes) at TJ Maxx stores. And really, I should never have waited as long as I did!
On Cake Size
I made this cake in an 8-inch skillet and it cut nicely into eight pieces. Plus the pear slices fit beautifully into a circle.
The post from the Blog Of Muses and Meringues that this is based on was designed for a 10-12 inch pan. Per this, if you want a very large cake, doubling the amounts should work in the larger size (you’d also need to increase baking time). Again, I haven’t tested this.
How to Serve
Pear Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake can be served warm or cool. It is rich and flavorful, even plain, so you don’t need to do more than serve.
But with ice cream and my recent easy caramel syrup, it is over the top! Other people enjoy it with whipped cream as well.
- Caramelized Onion and Pear Tart from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Crustless Ginger Blueberry-Pear Pie from The Spiffy Cookie
- Dutch Pear Pie from House of Nash Eats
- Pear and Cranberry Mincemeat from That Recipe
- Pear Gingerbread Upside Down Cake from Art of Natural Living
- Pear Pie Bars from Hezzi-D”s Books and Cooks
- Pear, Persimmon, Pomegranate Salad With Maple Ginger Dressing from Magical Ingredients
- Smoked Sausage with Sauerkraut and Pear from Palatable Pastime
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Pear Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake
With sweet pears and spicy gingerbread, this Pear Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake is aperfect holiday, or any day dessert. Serve it plain or with ice cream and caramel!
- 1 firm pear (I used a Bosc)
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 ¼ cups white whole wheat flour (or all purpose)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon salt.
- 1/3 cup mild molasses
- 1/3 cup boiling water
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Optional accompaniment: ice cream, caramel syrup, whipped cream
Core pear and cut into 10-12 wedges. Peeling isn't needed.
Melt butter in well-seasoned 8-inch cast iron skillet over moderate heat and cook until it stops foaming. Reduce heat to low, then sprinkle brown sugar over bottom of skillet. Cook, without stirring, for 3 minutes.
Arrange pears evenly over sugar and cook, undisturbed, another 2 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk together molasses and boiling water in another small bowl, maaking sure molasses is dissolved.
With an electric mixer, beat together butter, brown sugar, and egg in a large bowl. Beat for 2 minutes.
Alternate adding flour mixture and molasses to butter mixture in 2 batches each, mixing at low speed until smooth.
Gently pour batter over pear topping in skillet. Spread evenly without disturbing the pears. Bake until a tester comes out clean, 30-40 minutes. (40-50 if you double recipe).
Cool cake in skillet on a rack 5-10 minutes. Run a thin knife around edge of skillet. Place a large plate over skillet and, using pot holders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert cake onto plate. Replace any pears that stick to skillet.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Can I substitute a mixture of pecan flour and ap flour for white whole wheat flour? And use peaches instead of pears?
The peaches should work but I don’t think you’ll get a proper rise mixing in pecan flour. You could use just all purpose flour if you’d like.
That looks and sounds DELISH! I love all things pear and gingerbread! It’s a total win win for me.
I’m with you on this Christie!
I love the pear and gingerbread combination! I haven’t seen many people use it but it’s a favorite of mine!
Yes, pears overall are underappreciated I think!
I would use cast iron more if not for my glass top stove. I have a fear that it’s going to ruin my stovetop. There’s nothing like a well used, well season cast iron pan, or a wok. Anyway, I love the sound of this cake. Gingerbread and pear sound like a magical combination!
I have glass top, but the cast iron pans really can be heavy to lift. Most of my cast iron (except the old family pan) is actually slightly smaller which helps.
What a delicious and pretty cake to serve while fresh pears are readily available.
Pear and ginger are an amzing combo and this sounds absolutely divine!
It’s a favorite of mine!
Love this recipe sounds amazing!! and I love pears!!
Me too Gloria! Hope your Christmas was great!
Well, needless to say, I think the life care’s actions are unethical. I hope you were able to get back the money she invested. Getting older is not easy in our country. I will keep you and your mother in my thoughts…
The gingerbread? Yum! Pears and ginger are like apples and cinnamon. They just go together. Holding to make this for the holidays!
so sorry for your troubles! that would be hard any time of year, but especially during the holidays. prayers for you!
on a happy note, this cake is magnificent. i love upside down cakes and this one is perfect for the season.
Oh Inger, I am sorry to hear about the issues your mom is having…it is very hard as our parents get older…
I am glad that you found comfort in the kitchen as this cake looks delicious, pear and all the spices…and yes, 1 scoop of ice cream for me with the cake.
I hope things get better for you…
this looks wonderful I love pears and especially gingerbread!!