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Saffron-Scented Pear Upside-Down Cake


Buttery and sweet, pears are well suited to pastries and other end-of-meal treats. In an exotic twist on upside-down cake, saffron and ginger exert a Middle Eastern influence on Comice pears.

  • Servings: 6

Source: Martha Stewart Living, October 2006


  • Vegetable oil, cooking spray
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Comice pears, (6 to 7 ounces each)
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch square or round cake pan with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper, and set aside.

  2. Pulse saffron and 1/4 cup sugar in a spice grinder until well combined. Put butter and saffron sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Using a small offset spatula, spread mixture into prepared pan.

  3. Peel pears; halve lengthwise, and core. Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, cut pears lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange pears decoratively in pan over saffron-butter mixture.

  4. Whisk together flour, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, ground ginger, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in another bowl. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking. Stir in crystallized ginger.

  5. Spread batter over pears. Bake until set and a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. Place a serving platter upside down over pan; flip to unmold cake. Peel off parchment.

Reviews Add a comment

  • puraceta
    1 DEC, 2016
    One of my 'go to' winter treat recipes. I have celiac and in the past made it with Cup4Cup flour. Today I ran out of C4C so made it with chestnut flour instead. Mind blown! I can't believe I never tried it before, it so delicious, and because the chestnut flour is naturally sweet, I halved the sugar.
  • marievelde
    22 NOV, 2014
    Epic fail and I don't even know what went wrong, what I did wrong. It's completely runny even though I followed the recipe faithfully...
  • LoveZ
    12 SEP, 2013
    A few questions for you: 1) What can I do if I don't have a spice grinder? 2) Do I serve this warm? 3) If I want to bake this recipe and bring it to my friend's house for dinner (who lives 2 hours away), should I leave it in the pan during the drive, or should I remove it first from the pan?
  • crankyfrekles
    1 OCT, 2012
    This cake is so incredible. I was not at all prepared for how it would taste. The candied ginger melts right into the batter as it bakes it's moist and buttery and delicately flavored. STUNNING! Making this one for thanksgiving!