Posted by: Rachel | April 8, 2015

halve your cake and eat it, too

Yes, that’s what I mean.

At a recent gathering, a friend showed up with this beauty of a cake presented on a stunning cake stand. It was (almost, mind you) too pretty to eat. I begged the recipe, and although I haven’t actually baked it myself (we’re still eating it!) I had to share. Mmmm…

I know she made hers with a GF flour mix. She said she used an AP GF mix and substituted it exactly measure for measure. The finished product was moist, tender, and tasty. Put me in mind of a well-spiced pear Tatin. I say again, mmmm…

This makes a large cake with a beautiful presentation. I mean, this makes a very large cake. We were seven and still had more than half of it left, not for lack of trying to finish it! I’m here to tell you it was just dandy the next morning with coffee. Mmm…

Here’s the recipe as it was given to me. If you want to make a GF version, substitute as above. Invite friends over and enjoy – and if they are good friends and you are a generous person, share the leftovers as well! Mmm…

Pear Upside-Down Spice Cake

finished cake

finished cake – good enough to eat!

Makes one 10-inch round cake, about 12 servings

For the topping:
4 tbsp (½ stick; 2 oz) unsalted butter
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup honey
2 to 3 large ripe but firm Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and sliced vertically into 1/2-inch thick slices
1 cup walnut halves and pieces, lightly toasted

For the cake:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 tbsp (1 stick; 4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Make the topping:
Center the oven rack and preheat the oven to 350F before you start making the topping.

In a well seasoned 10-inch cast iron skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat. Swirl the skillet to coat the bottom and the sides with melted butter. Add the brown sugar and honey and simmer, stirring, until most of the sugar is melted, about 2 minutes. Take off the heat. Arrange the pear slices decoratively in concentric circles over the melted sugar. Sprinkle the walnuts between and over the pear slices. Set aside while making the cake batter.

Make the cake:
Whisk the flour, cardamom, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

In another bowl whisk to combine the sour cream and vanilla extract. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for a few seconds, until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the honey and continue mixing for another 2 or 3 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the sour cream, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape the bowl as necessary, and beat only enough to incorporate the ingredients after each addition.

Spoon the batter in dollops over the pear slices in the skillet. Spread the batter evenly without disturbing the pears, and bake the cake until nicely browned and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, for about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool the cake in the skillet on a rack for 15 minutes.

Run a thin knife or offset spatula around the edge of the skillet and invert a large serving plate over the skillet. Wearing the oven mittens and keeping the plate and skillet firmly pressed together, invert the cake onto the plate. Carefully remove the skillet and let the cake cool on the plate on the rack. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream.

Lots of work, but well worth it – especially since, in this instance, you can halve your cake and eat it too!



  1. Speaking of half a cake…

    You’ve been cutting cake the wrong way all your life…

    Celeste Epstein Collaborative Communications 512.326.5081

  2. Great post! Looks like a take on a pineapple upside down cake. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Lovely – I adore pear cakes!

  4. That is such a beautiful cake. We make a gluten free apple cake that’s very popular 🙂

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