I’ve found that pears are often one of the most overlooked fruits when it comes to baking, often passed up in favor of peaches or apples. But when harvest comes, other fruits can’t match the delicate, earthy flavor that pears add to baked goods. That’s why this pear upside-down cake has become my new favorite autumn dessert.
This cake has very little sugar compared to most, so the cardamom, cinnamon, and toasted butter make it a warmer, more savory option—perfect for fall. The simplicity of the ingredients really lets the essence of the pears shine through. Don’t skip the extra step of caramelizing the fruit beforehand, as this really makes this cake stand apart. The extra brown butter syrup soaks the pears and keeps the cake amazingly moist. Just be sure to remember the parchment so that the cake really will “flip” like it’s supposed to.
From start to finish, the cake comes together in less than an hour. Sprinkle it with a little powdered sugar, and it’s all ready for a cozy autumn afternoon snack!
Pear Upside Down Cake
Time: 1 hour, (30 minutes active)
Makes one eight-inch cake
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp + pinch kosher salt
- 2 pears, halved, cored, and sliced into 1/8-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 large eggs (room temperature)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp milk (room temperature)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an eight-inch cake pan thoroughly, and cut a circle of parchment big enough to fit in the bottom of the pan.
- Melt and brown two tablespoons of butter in a medium pan. Add brown sugar to the browned, and turn the heat on medium cooking until the brown sugar has melted. Add pears and toss in the sauce. Cook pears 2-3 minutes until slightly softened. Turn the heat off. Season with a pinch of salt. Set aside.
- Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and cinnamon to a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Add the 1/2 cup of softened butter and the sugar to the bottom of a stand mixer. Beat on a medium speed until it’s light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
- Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs until incorporated. Add vanilla, and mix until combined.
- Add the flour mixture and the milk to the bowl, mixing slowly to combine. Continue to beat at an increasingly high speed until a smooth, thick batter forms.
- Arrange the pears in the prepared pan in a circular layered pattern. Pour any remaining caramel sauce from the pan on top. Working carefully, dollop the batter over the pear mixture and spread the batter evenly, making sure to not move the pears. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out cleanly.
- Let the cake rest for a few minutes. Use a spatula to loosen all the edges. Place a large plate or platter on top of the pan. Flip and use a knife or spoon to tap the top so the cake releases. Remove the pan. Gently remove parchment paper. Cut into wedges. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.