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Pear Upside-Down Gingerbread Cake


This gingerbread-based cake is both festive and homey.

  • Yield: Makes one 9-inch-square cake

Source: Martha Stewart Living, December/January 1997


  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan.
  • 5 large ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch-square cake pan; set aside. In a large bowl, toss pears with lemon juice. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Add half the pears, cut sides down, in single layer; cook until brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn pears over; cook other sides until brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked pears to a plate. Cook remaining pears; transfer to plate. To pear juices in skillet, add brandy, and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Cook, stirring, until reduced to syrup, about 1 minute. Pour into cake pan; swirl to spread. Starting in one corner of pan, fan out pears in single layer; arrange so the tapered sides lie in same direction. Set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt; set aside. In bowl of an electric mixer, beat remaining 8 tablespoons butter until fluffy. Add brown sugar; beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes. Add eggs; beat to combine. Beat in molasses and grated ginger.

  3. Add half of flour mixture; combine on low speed. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and boiling water; beat into batter. Beat in remaining flour mixture until combined. Pour into pan; bake 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees. bake until springy to the touch, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Run a knife between pan and cake. Invert cake onto a serving plate. Arrange pears as needed, and serve.

Reviews Add a comment

  • MS12461565
    6 JAN, 2014
    Made this recipe the day before for our family dinner on Christmas day 2013. Cold and one day old, (this is a cake that probably benefits from a day in the fridge), it was a great hit even though I intended to serve it with vanilla ice cream which I forgot to bring along. My father-in-law would have gladly added more ginger to the recipe but he seemed to appreciate it never-the -less. I found the flavours to be well balanced and delicous. Definitely a keeper!
  • aussiekk
    31 DEC, 2011
    Fantastic! I've never eaten a cake with molasses in it and was initially put off by the smell during cooking. Use good quality pears and all melts together in a delicious caremalized experience.