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! 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.” 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!

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 toppingcook butter and sugarr

Add pears add pears to pan

Mix gingerbread cake then pour over pears

Bake, cool briefly, then flip

EnjoyFlip out cake

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.

Thanks Mom. 

So a word to the wise–err on the side of milder molasses unless specified by your recipe.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!

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! 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!

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. 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!

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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!  

Pear Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours

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!

Ingredients

Topping:

  • 1 firm pear (I used a Bosc)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

Cake:

  • 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

Instructions

Prepare Topping:

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.

Make cake:

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.

16 thoughts on “Pear Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake

  1. Thao @In Good Flavor

    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!

    1. Inger Post author

      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.

  2. David

    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!

  3. grace

    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.

  4. Juliana

    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…

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