Rustic Caramelized Pear Upside Down Cake is a wonderful dessert for autumn. Light, nutty cake topped with saucy pears in a buttery brown sugar sauce makes any fall meal an occaision. Gluten-free or with gluten options.
Pear season has arrived and with it unlimited options of how to enjoy them in addition to eating them whole. Caramelized Pear Upside Down Cake is an easy dessert that will ‘wow’ for the beautiful pattern on the top of the cake once turned out onto a serving platter. It is a homey recipe with familiar spices of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg with some almond flour giving a slightly nutty flavor.
I originally made this recipe and shared it in 2011 after making a Plum Upside Down Cake my family and friends loved. There is something so fun about a cake top lined with beautiful seasonal fruit. Caramelized Pear Upside Down Cake layers the sliced pears in a buttery brown sugar mixture giving them a soft, wonderful texture in addition to the caramel flavors. The simple cake is a perfect compliment to the pears and very easy to make. It can be made gluten-free or with gluten based on the all purpose flour used.
The natural sweetness of pears and their appealing shape make them a perfect choice for fall fruit tarts. I personally love tiny Seckel pears which can be eaten in just a few bites. Seckel Pear Soft Shelled Creme Tart is another delicious (and easy) way to celebrate autumn’s bounty, without needing to be a pastry chef.
Pears are wonderful in everything from salads to cocktails, with homemade Spiced Pear Vodka being a wonderful gift too. For more ideas on how to use pears you can check out Pear Perfection: 12 Gluten-Free Recipes!
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How to make Caramelized Pear Upside Down Cake:
Caramelized Pear Upside Down Cake
- 3 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Water
- 2-3 medium-large Pears (like Red Bartlett) peeled, cored and sliced vertically into 1/8-1/4 inch thick slices
- 1 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour regular or gluten-free measure-for-measure flour blend
- 1/4 cup Almond meal or Almond Flour
- 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground Ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter softened
- 2/3 cup Granulated Sugar
- 2/3 cup Whole Milk
- 2 Eggs
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Add 3 tablespoons butter into a 9 inch by 2 inch round layer cake pan and place in the oven to melt, approximately 3 minutes. Do not let butter brown.
- Remove pan from oven. Add brown sugar and water; whisk until sugar is dissolved and butter is incorporated.
- Layer pear slices overlapped each other, with the larger end of the pear toward the outside of the pan (refer to photos). Form a circular pattern allowing the pears to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl of a free standing mixer, whisk together the flour, almond meal/flour, baking powder, salt and spices
- In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a handheld mixer) cream the butter. Add the sugar and cream together. Add milk, eggs and vanilla and mix together (do not over mix).
- Spoon in dry ingredients and beat until fully combined. Spoon batter evenly on top of pears in the cake pan. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes when toothpick should come out clean and the cake should begin to brown.
- Allow cake to cool in pan on a rack for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the cake pan to free up cake. Place the serving plate upside down on the top of the cake pan, carefully turn the plate and cake over so the cake comes out onto the serving tray revealing the pear top. Be careful as the cake pan will still be hot. NOTE: if allowed to over cool in the pan the cake will not release fully. Allow to cool for 30-45 additional minutes; serve warm.
This delicious recipe was originally published in November 2011 and has been updated in 2017.