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Ginger-Brandy Pear Upside-Down Cake Recipe

Ryan Thomas is a university student who enjoys cooking recipes from a wide variety of culinary traditions.

The finished product.

The finished product.

Pears are a nice fruit, mellow and yet sweet too, and soft and easy to eat. They only get better when they're embedded in a rich caramel with nuts and raisins sprinkled over them . . . and then made into a sweet cake with the mild sharpness of brandy and ginger's tantalizing taste. All of this forming a tantalizing and gorgeous upside-down cake. It looks beautiful like the blazing sun with the pears radiating outwards from the center, set into the deep-brown caramel and on top of the golden cake itself. The only thing easier than admiring it is eating it! The soft layers melt away in your mouth; the fruit and sugar melding together in glorious splendor. This dessert is equal parts sophisticated and elegant. It's great for a dinner party or something to enjoy yourself with only the whispering voice of your guilty conscience as you dig in to keep you company.

I have adapted this recipe from Flavorful: 150 Irresistible Desserts in All-Time Favorite Flavors by Tish Boyle, which, in my opinion, is just as good as the name implies. It has a splendid variety of desserts. The recipe that I have here has quite a variety of differences, and thus I do recommend getting the book to see the original recipe.

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  • 3 pears
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) butter
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup raisins


  1. The first component to making the pie is the caramel. Combine together 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 4 tablespoon butter, and 1 cup brown sugar in a saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat until the butter melts together with the brown sugar and it turns to caramel. Pour into the bottom of a 10-inch pie bowl.
  2. Cut the pears into 1/2 inch wide slices, removing the cores. Layer them lengthwise facing into the center, in rows, covering the bottom of the pie dish and if necessary stacking. Once done, add the 1/2 cup of raisins over the pears, trying to evenly distribute them.
  3. In a small saucepan, perhaps the one previously used, combine together 2 tablespoons butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Coat the walnuts in the caramelizing sugar then pour them over the pears, trying to evenly distribute them.
  4. In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, the baking powder, the baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In a small bowl, mix together the heavy cream, brandy, 2 teaspoons dried ginger, vanilla, and the orange zest.
  5. In a large bowl, beat 8 tablespoons of butter (1 stick), until it is creamy. Add 1 cup of brown in gradual allotments, beating at medium speed until it is well incorporated, at least a minute. Then add in the 3 eggs, 1 egg at a time, beating constantly and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Proceed to add in the dry ingredients and the liquid ingredients, in 3 and 2 allotments respectively, beating until it is smooth and well-integrated.
  6. Pour the batter over the pears and make sure it is smooth. Place it into a 350°(f) oven for 55 minutes. Once out, allow it to cool, then use a cake blade to push away the cake from the sides. Then upend it over a large dessert plate, through the standard method of placing the dessert plate over the pie dish then flipping both to remove it. Serve hot or at roomed temperature.
Before the big flip.

Before the big flip.

© 2018 Ryan Thomas

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