Triple-Ginger Pear Upside-Down Cake

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I’m kind of nuts for ginger. When we go out for sushi, I commandeer that little heap of pickled ginger in a flash (and then usually get more.) I grate ginger into my salads, salsa, chutney and curries. I make gingersnaps for parties and adore it when I find a restaurant with house-made ginger ale. But of all these, the combination of ginger and pear is my favorite. I think ginger-pear pie is juiciest, but pies are really time consuming to make. So this triple-ginger upside down cake is a quicker pick. It’s riff on a recipe from Bradley Ogden, whom I interviewed many years ago.  Have some hot tea on hand to go along with it.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Triple-Ginger Pear Topping Ingredients

  • 5 ripe—but firm—pears, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2 inch top-to-bottom wedges
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and very finely minced
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp crystallized ginger nibs (Spice House of Evanston carries these)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Upside-Down Cake Batter Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Make the topping: In a 9-inch or 10-inch cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sliced pears, lemon juice, grated ginger and lemon zest. Toss to coat. Turn heat down to low and cook, gently stirring, for 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar and vanilla. Add the ginger nibs and powdered ginger. Cook another 10 to 15 minutes until the pears are tender and about translucent. Remove the pears to a dish with a slotted spoon. Increase the heat to medium and bring the syrup to a boil, heating until it becomes thick and sticky and takes on a deep golden color. Remove pan from hear. Carefully arrange the pears in a spiral over the syrup. Set aside.
  2. Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at time, beating about a minute between each addition. Add the vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together in another bowl; slowy add to the butter/egg batter until few streaks remain. Batter will be very stiff. In a separate clean bowl, whip egg whites until firm, but not dry. Fold the egg whites into the batter–this will take a bit of time. Spread the batter over the pears, Bake at 350 for 35 minutes until cake springs back when touched lightly. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for 5 minutes before turning out on to a serving platter. Server warm

3 thoughts on “Triple-Ginger Pear Upside-Down Cake

  1. Just finished making a batch of truly wonderful applesauce and a plum tart. This could be my next “to try” recipe! I love, love, love ginger. And yes, I hoard the pickled stuff also! Thanks.

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