This Upside Down Pear Cake is part of my life
This Upside Down Pear Cake has been a labor of love. The first time I ever made this cake was probably 17 years ago. I came up with the concept and recipe, and served it to my parents and family the first time. It was so tasty!
I don’t know exactly why, but for many years I stopped making it and almost forgot about it. What a shame that would have been!
This is now a blast from the past coming to you, but this time its amped up! I finished the cake with the most sinful bourbon caramel sauce that drips perfectly over the pears and absorbs beautifully into the moist cake. With hints of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, this is the perfect cake to serve for the Holidays.
Detailed instructions for the Upside Down Pear Cake with Bourbon Caramel Sauce
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Spray to bottom and sides of a 9 inch round cake pan with non stick baking spray. If you don’t have any baking non stick spray, just butter the cake pan, the bottom and sides, then cover the buttered surface with a bit of flour, 2 tablespoons will be more than enough. Pat around the pan to coat it evenly and discard the excess flour.
Tip! I prefer to use the spray because sometimes the butter and flour form a floury film on the edges and sides of the cake. The spray works like a charm.
Drain the pears from the juice. Discard the juice.
In a cutting board, lay a pear flat side down, so that the rounded (outside where skin used to be) part is up. Slice the pear thinly and flip so that the curvy (bottom part of pear) part will now be on the bottom and arrange in the pan with the tip (where the stem would be) is in the middle of the pan. Fan out to reach the edges of the pan. Continue with the rest of the pears.
Start by making four fans. Each fan starts in the middle and spreads out to the edge. Basically, arrange them by making a + shape first and then fill in the gaps with the remaining pears to eventually form a * shape. You can go around in a circle if it’s easier for you.
Set the pan aside to start working on the cake batter.
In a bowl with a sifter, sift the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.
Tip! If you can not find Pumpkin Pie Spice, use nutmeg instead.
Using the paddle attachment of the electric mixer, cream the butter for a few seconds.
Add the sugar and beat on high until it becomes pale and fluffy. About 2-3 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat each egg for at least a minute.
Tip! Crack the eggs in a separate bowl in case there are any shells to dig out, or if you get a bad egg.
In a separate bowl, mix the applesauce with the vanilla.
On low speed, alternate adding 1/3 of the flour mixture, and applesauce mixture. Start with the dry ingredients and end with the dry ingredients:
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Stop the electric mixer.
Add half of the applesauce mixture. Mix until just combined.
Add the second 1/3 of flour mix, and again, mix until just combined.
Add the last of the applesauce and mix in barely.
Add the last of the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Tip! Over mixing the batter results in a dry cake. Barely combine the wet and dry ingredients as you are adding them.
Add the honey and the walnuts and mix it.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and using a spatula, make sure all ingredients are incorporated and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure there is no clump left behind.
Pour the batter over the fanned out pears.
Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick is inserted in the middle and it comes out clean.
Tip! I like to set a timer for 10-15 minutes before the cake is supposed to be done. Stick a toothpick in the middle and see if it comes out clean. If it does, then its cooked. I like to do it bit ahead of the time instructed to make sure I don’t over cook it.
Let the cake sit for at least 20 minuted before you plate it. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to make sure the cake is separated from the pan. Give it a little jiggle to loosen it up a bit.
Place a cake stand or platter on top of the cake and in one swift move, turn over the cake pan and stand.
Tip! I like to tap on the bottom of the cake pan to make sure it loosens in one piece.
For the Bourbon Caramel:
Add the sugar to a medium size bowl. Heat the sugar on medium high heat.
The sugar will slowly melt. Keep an eye on it as it can melt unevenly if it does, swirl the pan a bit to try and help the sugar melt evenly.
Once the sugar is melted, it will change colors rapidly.
Keep on swirling the pan to help keep the temperature from rising rapidly. Allow the caramel to darken to a rich amber color. Your sense of smell is of great help here, use it!
When the melted sugar is amber it smells like caramel, when its darker about to burn, it smells almost acidic.
Once the sugar has reached the color of your preference, start whisking in the butter one tablespoon at a time. Work quickly and steadily without stopping whisking the mixture.
Add the butter one tablespoon at a time.
Once the butter is all incorporated, slowly add the heavy cream in a steady stream without stoping whisking it.
The mixture will be bubbling profusely right now. Be very careful as it will create steam!
Tip! You can use an oven mitten to protect your hand from the steam.
Once the heavy cream is all incorporated, add the bourbon and continue whisking.
Turn off the heat and pour the mixture into a gravy bowl as it makes it easier to pour.
Let the caramel sit for at least 20 minutes before serving it as it will be extremely hot.
Tip! When you are ready to serve the caramel, give it a bit of a stir with a spoon as sometimes a skin forms on the top of it. Since the caramel is still warm, the skin will incorporate into the caramel effortlessly.
- 9 inch cake pan
- medium size pot
- electric mixer
For the cake:
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature (2 sticks)
- 1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon Pumpikn Pie Spice nutmeg if you can't find it
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup sweetened applesauce
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 cans halfed pears in juice
For the caramel:
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons room temperature buttter
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
For the Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°
- Spray the sides and bottom of the cake pan with baking nonstick spray.
- On a cutting board, cut each pear half in thin slices. Arrange each half of a pear, facing down (with the top of the pear in the middle of the pan) and fan it out towards the edge of the pan.
- Start by making four fans. Each fan starts in the middle and spreads out to the egde.
- With the remaining pears, keep filling the spaces in between. Remember to keep the slices together.
- Set the cake pan with the fanned pears off to the side while you prepare the cake batter.
- In a bowl, sift the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachement, beat the butter unitl it is creamy.
- Add the sugar and beat them it becomes a bit pale and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat each egg for at least a minute each.
- In a separate bowl or cup, add the vanilla to the applesauce, stir in.
- On low speed, add the flour in three additions alternating with the the applesauce mixture. Start with the dry ingredients and end with the dry ingredients.
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, beat until just combined.
- Add half of the applesauce mixture. Beat until just combined.
- Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, mix until just combined again.
- Add the remaining applesauce and mix in until just incorporated.
- Finish with the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients and beat until just combined.
- Add the honey and the walnuts and mix in briefly.
- Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and scrape all the sides.
- Add the batter on top of the pears.
- Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour. Test to see if a toothpick comes out clean if inserted in the middle at minute 50 just to make sure the cake does not overcook.
- Once baked, let the cake sit for at least 20 minutes.
- Run a knife through the sides of the cake pan, to separate the cake from the edges.
- Flip onto a cake stand or platter.
For the Caramel:
- Add the sugar to a medium size pot on medium high heat.
- Let the sugar melt slowly. Keep an eye on it as it can burn awfully quick.
- Once the sugar is all melted and starting to change color, let it cook to a rich amber color.
- Swril the pan constantly to allow the temperature to stay even and not rise rapidly.
- Once the caramel has gotten to the color of your liking, add the butter one tablespoon at a time.
- Use a whisk to incorporate the butter into the melted sugar. This will bubble up profusely, you must work quickly so it does not burn.
- Once the butter is all incorporated, slowly drizzle the heavy cream, all the while stirring with the whisk.
- The cold heavy cream will make the caramel bubble up significantly, make sure you are being safe and working calmly.
- Once the heavy cream is incorporated, add the bourbon and whisk in. Turn off the heat and whisk a bit more to make sure there are no clumps.
- Serve the caramel in a gravy boat or jar. Let it cool for at least 20 minutes before you serve it as it will be dangerously hot.
- When you are ready to serve the caramel, use a spoon to stir the caramel as sometimes a "skin" tends to form on the top of it whileit rests.