Pear Upside Down Cake

This Pear Upside Down Cake Recipe features a caramelized pear and brown sugar topping over a sweet, tender spiced cake. Enjoy with some whipped cream or ice cream for an easy fall dessert.

Pear upside down cake on a cake platter

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This pear upside down cake is one of my favorite fall desserts. It looks spectacularly elegant, with the caramelized pear topping, but is actually so easy to make. All you need is fresh pears, buttermilk, brown sugar, and a few pantry staples.

Upside down cakes get their name because the topping is actually baked on the bottom of the pan, with the batter on top. After cooking, the pan is inverted and the topping is on top.

The circular pattern of the pears gives this easy pear cake a unique and fancy appearance but it’s truly as simple as laying pear slices in the bottom of the pan!

Ingredients for a Pear Upside Down Cake.

Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Pears – See below for notes on the best pears for this cake.
  • Butter – Used in both the pear topping and the cake.
  • Brown sugar – Sweetens the pear topping and creates the carmelized flavor.
  • Buttermilk – Buttermilk adds flavor and helps ensure an ultra-soft crumb.
  • Flour – I prefer all-purpose flour for this recipe to give the cake a soft but more solid base.
  • Baking powder & baking soda – The two leavening agents help the cake rise in the oven.
  • Salt – brings out the flavors!
  • Spices – Cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg add warm fall flavors to this easy pear cake.
Pear slices on a wooden cutting board

What Type of Pears are Best for Baking?

Similar to apples, there are many different varieties of pears at the store. Of the various varieties, Bartlett, Bosc, and Anjou are the best for baking. Any of them will work in this recipe.

Look for pears that are ripe but still firm to the touch. Overly ripe pears once baked will become too soft to pull out the pan well.

How to Tell When Pears are Ripe

To tell when a pear is ripe, you just need to “check the neck”. This phrase refers to gently applying pressure towards the top of the pear.

If it gives slightly, it’s ready. If it’s rock solid, it’s not quite ripe enough and if it’s super soft, it’s probably too ripe.

How to Make Pear Upside Down Cake

  1. To make this pear upside down cake recipe, begin by preparing the pears. Slice them in half lengthwise, cut off the end, and use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds. Pull back the stem to remove it and slice the pears into 1/8 – 1/4″ thickness.
  2. Melt the butter for the topping in a skillet then use to coat the sides of the pan. Add the brown sugar and mix to combine and form an even base over the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add the sliced pears to the pan. Start by making a star with the pear slices in the center, with the pointy side inwards. Layer the outside of the pan with rest of the pears in a circle.
  4. Make the cake batter by combining the melted butter for the cake, the granulated sugar, and the buttermilk. Let the sugar melt into the liquid.

  1. Place a large sieve over the bowl and add in the dry ingredients, using a spoon to work them through the sieve into the liquid below. Mix just until fully combined.
  2. Add dollops of the cake batter evenly over the pears. Use a spatula to gently spread the batter, being careful to not disturb the pears below.
  3. Place the skillet in the oven at 350°F and bake for 35-40 minutes. Let rest for 5-10 minutes then invert onto a cake plate for serving. Be sure to not wait much beyond 5 or 10 minutes to turn the cake over or the sugar at the bottom will harden and the cake will get stuck in the pan.
Easy pear cake on a cake stand

Tips for Success

Here are a few helpful tips for preparing this upside down pear cake recipe.

  • Use a sifter to mix the dry ingredients.  This evenly distributes the spices and gets rid of any clumps of flour
  • Don’t overmix the batter. Try and mix the dry and wet together as quickly as possible. Overmixing will create a tougher, heavier cake crumb.
  • Prevent sticking in the pan. Be sure the butter in the pan is swished around to coat the sides of the skillet prior to adding the brown sugar to prevent sticking. And if using a cake pan prepare the pan by greasing and lightly flouring the bottom and sides of the pan. For the cake pan method, make the butter and brown sugar first in a separate pot and then add to the bottom of the cake pan.
  • How to easily arrange the pears. Add the sliced pears starting first by creating a star in the center and then layering outwards in a circle. I find it looks better if the point of the pear is inwards.
  • When adding the cake batter be careful when spreading the batter to the edges.  You want to make sure you do not disturb the pears below.  I find it best to drop dollops of the cake batter evenly over top of the pears so it is much easier to spread or connect the dollops of cake batter.
  • Wait 5-10 minutes before inverting the cake.  Too soon and the cake may fall apart because the sugars are still very hot, too long and the cake will stick to the pan.  If a pear or two sticks don’t worry, just peel it off and stick it on the cake where it should be.
Upside down Pear cake on a cake stand

Easy Pear Cake FAQs

Do the pears need to be pealed?

No, you do not need to peel the pears for this upside down pear cake recipe if using Bartlet pears but if using other varieties I recommend peeling. The skin on other types of pears tends to be ticker and gets tough when baked.

Can this easy pear cake be made in a cake pan?

Yes!. Just be sure to grease and flour the pan well and melt the butter and brown sugar together first in a pot before adding it to the bottom of the prepared cake pan.

Why did my pear upside down cake stick to the pan?

If your cake is sticking to the pan, it’s likely because the butter wasn’t coating the sides or you did not prepare the cake pan by greasing well and dusting with flour.

What if I don’t have buttermilk?

If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, no worries. You can easily make your own by adding 2 teaspoons of white vinegar to the milk then waiting 5 minutes before using it in the recipe.

Can I use other fruit in this upside down cake recipe?

Yes, apples and pineapple both work great in this recipe!

Can This Recipe Be Made in Advance?

Yup, you can definitely make this pear upside down cake recipe in advance. However, you do want to make sure that you invert the cake onto a plate within 10 minutes of taking it out of the oven. If the sugars harden too much, it’ll be difficult to remove the cake from the pan.

Overhead view of a pear upside down cake

How to Serve Upside Down Pear Cake

Pear upside down cake can be served warm or cold. You can enjoy it exactly as-is or with a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top.

It’s also lovely served warm with ice cream or whipped cream for an extra decadent dessert!

Storing & Freezing

Store leftover pear upside down cake in the fridge for up to 3 days. Just be sure to keep it covered with plastic wrap. You can pop the slices in the microwave for a few seconds to enjoy them warm if desired!

More Fall Desserts

Pear upside down cake on a cake platter

Pear Upside Down Cake

Alisa Infanti | The Delicious Spoon
This Pear Upside Down Cake Recipe features a caramelized pear and brown sugar topping over a sweet, tender cake. Enjoy with some whipped cream or ice cream for an easy fall dessert.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Dessert
Cuisine North American
Servings 10 servings
Calories 301 kcal

Ingredients
  

Pear Topping:

  • 3 medium pears
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

For The Cake:

  • ¼ cup butter; melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp powdered ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • Slice the pears in half lengthwise and cut off the end. Use a small spoon or a measuring spoon to scoop out the seeds and then pull back the stem to remove. Slice the pears to an 1/8″ thickness. Set aside.
  • Add the butter for the topping to the skillet over medium heat to melt. Give it a gentle swirl or use a spatula to help coat the sides of the pan fully with the melted butter.
  • Add the brown sugar and mix to combine the melted butter and sugar so that it forms and even base over the entire bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • If using a cake pan melt the butter and brown sugar in a separate pot and then add to the bottom of a greased and lightly floured cake pan.
  • Add the sliced pears in the pan starting by making a star with the pear slices in the center of the pan with the pointing side inwards. Then layer the outside of the pan with the rest of the sliced pears in a circle. Set aside.
  • In large bowl add the melted butter for the cake, granulated sugar and buttermilk and mix to combine and let the sugar melt into the liquid.
  • Place a large sieve over top of the bowl and add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Use a spoon to work the dry ingredients through the sieve into the liquid below.
  • Use a mixing spoon to mix the wet and dry ingredient together. Do not over mix. Mix only until combined fully.
  • Add dollops of the cake batter evenly over the pears in the skillet. Using a spatula the back of the mixing spoon gently spread the batter evenly over the pears being careful not to disturb the pears below.
  • Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the heat and let rest for only 5-10 minutes before inverting onto a cake plate for serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 301kcalCarbohydrates: 60gProtein: 4gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 301mgPotassium: 133mgFiber: 3gSugar: 37gVitamin A: 198IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 86mgIron: 1mg
Please Note:

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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