An upside-down cake doesn’t have to be pineapple. Maple-Cardamom Pear Upside-Down Cake is a seasonal and sophisticated alternative to the classic.
- cooking spray
- 2–3 small pears (small pears will be more decorative)
- ¼ cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (divided)
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract tab
- 2–3 tablespoon finely chopped candied ginger (or to taste)
- ice cream (for serving, optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8‑inch square or round cake pan with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper, and set aside.
Peel pears. Carefully cut pears lengthwise and/or crosswise into ¼‑inch-thick slices and/or rounds using a mandoline or a very sharp knife. Remove any seeds or you can choose to remove the whole core on some of the slices if you see fit. Set aside.
Put butter, ¼ cup sugar, maple syrup, and cardamom into a bowl, Use an electric mixer on medium-high or beat well by hand until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Then using a small offset spatula, spread mixture into prepared pan.
Arrange the most attractive of the pears decoratively in a single layer on top of thee maple-cardamom butter mixture. You won’t use all the slices. Keep it simple or get creative. It’s up to you.
Whisk together flour, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in another medium bowl. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking. Stir in crystallized ginger. Gently pour the batter and over the pears, then carefully make the surface smooth with the offset spatula.
Bake in the heated oven until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Place the cake on a rack to cool for 5 minutes in the pan.
Run a small spatula or knife around the edge of the pan and invert onto a rimmed serving plate, leaving the pan on the cake for 5 another minutes. Carefully remove the pan. Peel off parchment. Check the arrangement of the pears and make adjustments if needed while the cake is still warm. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream (if using).