based on my paper printout (of course), i first made this upside-down pear gingerbread cake for christmas eve dinner in 2004. aaaaand i’ve made it basically every year since then (with the molasses splatters on the paper to prove it). it has turned into a bit of a christmas tradition, which started simply because the cake is just so tasty.
the cake itself is really moist (we really need a new word, at least for describing cake, that we don’t all hate…) and has a strong but not overwhelming molasses/ginger flavor (though really, i’m not sure i would ever find a cake *too* molasses-y or ginger-y…).
the pears make a delicious topping that further adds to the yummy texture of the cake. timing the ripeness of the pears is basically the most difficult part of making this cake. i put some tips in the notes below the recipe but basically, you want the flesh (another word that i don’t love to describe food…) right near the stem to yield just slightly when you press on it. by the time the whole pear feels soft on the outside, the inside is going to be yucky. i try to buy the pears a few days before i make this cake so that they have a few days to ripen, though i also include a tip below for ripening them faster.
the only other “tricky” part of making this cake is that you need a large skillet that can go in the oven. back in 2004, our pots and pans collection did not include such a thing so i followed the recipe’s suggestion and wrapped the plastic (not oven safe) handle in a double layer of aluminum foil and it worked just fine. i think oven safe pans are more common these days (at least they are in my kitchen…), so this may be a non-issue for you.
one of the fun things about this cake, besides how delicious it is, is that even though you know that ripening pears and finding a skillet is just about as difficult as making this cake gets, the finished cake *looks* waaaay more impressive than that. “upside-down” turns out to be a tip-off that something is going to look like it was difficult but actually be pretty easy.
in fact, arguably the most difficult part of this upside-down pear gingerbread cake is *not* eating the leftovers for breakfast the next morning…
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