Pear-Almond Upside Down Cake (recipe)

Pear Upside Down Cake
Pear Upside Down Cake

Lisa was right.

She and I have been subscribing to the same fruit CSA (Frog Hollow Farms CSA) since early September. Each week, with our 5 pound box of perfectly ripe, organic and local fruit, we receive a recipe for a delightful dessert using the fruit. I tend to avoid these, since goodness knows I don’t need that extra butter and sugar disguised with fruit.

Lisa told me about the Pear Upside Down Cake from the October 5th newsletter. I pooh-pooh’d her, explaining my reasoning for not making desserts with the fruit. What a mistake.

Fortunately, last week, I had the chance to undo that mistake. I made the Pear Upside Down Cake with Warren and Bosc pears, and not only was the cake easy, it was a huge success. I highly recommend it. And I am sorry I doubted Lisa.

Pear-Almond Upside Cake
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison

  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large pears, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4″ slices (I used about 4-5 small/medium pears)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional, i.e. I did not have it, so if you don’t, don’t panic)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup finely ground almonds (I used toasted sliced almonds from Trader Joes that I whirled with my immersion blender)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of ground cloves

Preheat oven to 375F. Heat 3 Tablespoons butter and brown sugar in a 10″ cast iron or ovenproof skillet over medium heat until sugar is melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Arrange pear slices in overlapping, concentric circles over the sugar.

Cream 1/2 cup butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and almond extracts, then beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in nuts, then add flour, baking powder, salt, and cloves. Spoon batter evenly over fruit.

Bake until top of cake is golden and springy when pressed, 35-40 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then loosen edges with a butter knife. Place a cake plate over the top of the pan, grasp plate and pan tightly, and flip over. Ease pan off cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. Mmm, this looks yummy, but somehow, upside-down cakes never work for me! 🙁

  2. Kitchen Gadget Girl

    funny you mention that, I was really nervous the first time I made mine. Fortunately, I had a cast iron pan to use, which I think made all the difference. What is the part that does not work for you?

  3. When I go to flip it, it’s never cooked all the way through! I’ve tried various recipes…it doesn’t seem to matter. I don’t have a cast iron pan though.

  4. Great recipe; this is perfect for Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to meeting you at the Foodbuzz Festival in San Fran on Friday!

  5. Kitchen Gadget Girl

    ah, the cast iron pan might be the trick!

    Anyone else have suggestions on making a upside down cake and having it come out of the pan successfully?

  6. Kitchen Gadget Girl

    yes, this would be a great Thanksgiving dessert! My family is devoted to pies, but this cake is definitely a winner.

    Look forward to meeting you this weekend!

  7. Oh, this is a really good one. 🙂 Thanks for posting it!

    My reasoning: Eat good, wholesome foods in moderation including desserts. All fresh, natural, preferably organic. Stay active. No worries about a bit of sugar or fat. The human body needs it in moderation, anyway.

    RE cast iron pan: That is the trick. It spreads the heat better. When a cast iron pan is not available a bit of experimenting will be needed, but in general, a slightly slower over, for a bit longer time will do the trick so that the cake/tart is cooked all the way through without burning. Flavor will also be better with a cast iron pan for recipes traditionally made in such pans, like Tarte Tatin, and cornbread.

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