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.