Pear & Gingerbread Upside Down Cake

Marketing be damned, I’m a literal sucker for things put in the checkout line of a grocery store.

Even candy. If there’s a Heath Bar in the candy section of the check out lane, I am likely buying it. Butterfingers are also a weakness.

Some people want a salt lick. Me? Nah, gimme a sugar cube.

I couldn’t care less about the tabloid magazines – unless it’s about the Royal Family, and then I’m doing a mad flip through to catch the gossip from across the pond – but whomever the marketing genius was who thought to put the speciality cooking magazines in the checkout had someone like me in mind.

I have copious stacks of them alongside my cookbook collection – especially the Christmas cookie ones – and the recipes are generally pretty amazing. The vast majority of my Christmas cookies come from these supermarket magazines, and everyone loves the results 😉

Enter bake it from Fall 2014. Don’t those donuts look good?! I haven’t made them…


Page 43 holds this delicious concoction below – Pear and Gingerbread Upside Down Cake.

It’s a simple recipe that has all the comfort of being cooked in a skillet, but comes out with a bit of wow presentation.

I’m not the biggest ginger fan; I find myself in rare company when I say this, but this recipe, even with the addition of candied ginger, is pleasantly spiced without being overbearing.


Make sure to grease the skillet incredibly well. You’re creating a toffee topping of sorts that should come right out when you flip the skillet after the cake cooks. If you haven’t greased the living daylights outta a well-seasoned pan, this cake will not stay with the toffee topping. That shit will just stick like its clinging for dear life.

The gingerbread cake part is simple, evenly spiced. Perfect.



As my daughter noted, it comes out looking like a sunflower, which almost seems perfect given most pears seems to ripen around the end of the summer and early Fall, when sunflowers seem to perfectly overwhelm the landscape.


Even with my well-seasoned and freakishly well-greased pan, a bit of the center topping clung to the pan. No matter, I scooped it out and pressed it back in the center. The magazine shows a big blop of whipped cream in the center of the pears – I wonder if they had the same issue. Adding a hint of powered ginger and/or cinnamon to the whipped cream would be delightful…

I dunno. I get really bored of pumpkin, apple, and mincemeat pies at Thanksgiving. This is an annual battle between my husband and me. This cake? This seems like a perfect alternative that will make your guests smile, going back for seconds, and forgetting that pie should ever be an option on the dessert table.

Pear & Gingerbread Upside Down Cake

A delicious alternative to the Thanksgiving dessert table! This old European favorite gets a fresh spin for the 21st century with caramelized pears.

Course Dessert
Cuisine European
Keyword baking, cakes, cast iron, gingerbread, pears, skillet, skillet cake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cool Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Author bake it Magazine


  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter softened, plus additional butter for the skillet
  • 3 pears, firm but ripe such as Bosc or Bartlett
  • 1 cup light brown sugar firmly packed
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger finely chopped
  • 1 cup light molasses
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 One large egg at room temperature


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with the rack placed in the middle. Butter the sides of a 10-inch skillet.
  2. Peel, half, and core the pears. Cut each pear half into three slices set aside.
  3. Place the skillet over medium heat and add 4 tablespoons of the butter and 3/4 cup of the brown sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes or until mixture is melted. Arrange the pear slices decoratively on the topping and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the crystallized ginger. Remove the skillet from the heat.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the molasses and water and whisk well. In a second bowl, combine the flour, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves, and whisk well.
  5. In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining butter, the remaining brown sugar, and the granulated sugar; beat at low speed with an electric mixer to combine. Raise the speed to high and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well.
  6. Add the flour mixture and molasses mixture alternately to the butter mixture, and beat low speed. Stir in the remaining crystallized ginger.
  7. Spread the batter over the pears in an even layer. Bake the cake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool the cake in the skillet on a rack for 10 minutes. Cover a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Invert the baking sheet on top of the skillet, holding the edge of the baking sheet in the handle of the skillet together with one hand. Use the other hand as a guide to turn over the baking sheet and skillet. Remove the skillet and return any pear slices stuck to the pan the top the cake. Slide the cake from the baking sheet to a serving platter with an offset spatula. Serve warm.

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