Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread Cake

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  • 2 1/2 firm pears (preferably Bosc)
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup molasses (preferably mild)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Accompaniment (optional)

  • Vanilla ice cream


  1. To make the Topping: Peel and core pears and cut each into 8 wedges.
  2. Melt the butter in a well-seasoned 10-inch skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides. Reduce the heat to low, then sprinkle brown sugar over bottom of skillet and cook, undisturbed, 3 minutes (not all sugar will be melted).
  3. Arrange pears decoratively over sugar and cook, undisturbed, 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. To make the Cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt in a bowl.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk together the molasses and boiling water in a small bowl.
  7. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and until creamy, about 2 minutes.
  8. Alternately mix in the flour mixture and molasses in 3 batches at low speed until smooth. Pour the batter over the topping in the skillet, spreading evenly and being careful not to disturb pears.
  9. Bake in the middle of the preheated 350 degrees F oven until a tester comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.
  10. Cool cake in skillet on a rack for 5 minutes.
  11. Run a thin knife around edge of skillet, then invert a large plate with a lip over skillet and, using pot holders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert cake onto plate. Replace any pears that stick to skillet.
  12. Serve warm or at room temperature. Top with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Yield: 1 cake in 10-inch skillet; serves 6

Source: Gourmet Magazine, February, 2002; posted by LuAnn B., a.k.a. "Tofu Queen."

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