Pear Upside Down Cake

“This simple cake, full of warm ginger flavor, relies on voluptuous pears that are ripe and juicy,” write Lambertville authors Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton in the latest volume of their series of cookbooks, Canal House Cooking. “Two common varieties, Bartlett and Anjou, are good choices.”

Serves: Makes one 9-inch cake


6 tablespoons unsalted butter
⅓ cup dark brown sugar
1 pinch plus 1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ripe pears
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons powdered ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or
vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 375˚. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the dark brown sugar and a pinch of salt and stir until well combined. Pour the brown sugar mixture into a 9-inch round cake pan, spreading it out to cover the bottom of the pan; set aside.

Peel and halve the pears. Use a small spoon (a teaspoon from a measuring set works well) to scoop out the core, then use a paring knife to notch out the stem. Arrange the pears cut side up around the bottom of the prepared pan. Wisk together the flour, ginger, baking powder, and ®˘ teaspoon salt in a small bowl; set aside. Bring the milk almost to a boil in a small pan over medium heat.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Keep hot over low heat. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Gradually add the granulated sugar, beating constantly for about 5 minutes. Add the flour mixture and stir well.

Add the vanilla and the hot milk, stirring until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter over the pears.
Bake the cake until golden, and a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted in the center, about 40 minutes. Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes, then invert it onto a serving plate, fruit side up. Serve the cake slightly warm or at room temperature.

Click here to leave a comment
Read more Eat & Drink articles.

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.

Required not shown
Required not shown