Pear upside-down cake recipe

This traditional upside-down pear cake is given a fiery twist with the addition of ginger and dark rum. Serve with ice cream as a dessert or by itself as a teatime treat.


For the pears

  • 50g/1¾oz caster sugar
  • 50g/1¾oz butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 tbsp ginger syrup (from a jar of stem ginger)
  • 2 large, ripe but firm pears

For the cake mixture

  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 125g/4½oz butter, well softened
  • 125g/4½oz caster sugar
  • 125g/4½oz plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground allspice


  1. Circle of baking paper that is roughly 2cm/¾in larger than the base of a 20cm/8in springform or loose-based round cake tin. Grease the sides of the tin and place the paper circle in the base, pressing up the sides slightly. This will help hold the caramel.
  2. For the pears, make a caramel by melting the sugar in a small, deep saucepan over low heat until golden brown, stirring only once most of the sugar has melted. (CAUTION: boiling sugar is extremely hot. Handle very carefully. Use a deep pan to avoid bubbling over.) Add the butter and stir with a long-handled wooden spoon very gently until melted. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the rum and ginger syrup until the sauce is smooth. Leave the caramel to stand for 15–20 minutes, or until it cools enough to coat the back of a spoon, stirring occasionally. Place a baking tray on the bottom of the oven to catch any caramel that leaks out of the cake tin and preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.
  3. While the caramel is cooling, peel the pears, cut into quarters and remove the cores. Each pear quarter into 3–4 long slices. Place the pear slices in the caramel and turn to coat. Arrange the pear slices in a fan shape in the bottom of the prepared cake tin.
  4. For the cake mixture, add all of the ingredients to a food processor and mix until smooth. Alternatively, place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until a smooth mixture is formed. Gently spoon the mixture over the pears and smooth the surface. Bake for 35–40 minutes, or until the cake well rises, firm to the touch, and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle.
  5. Using oven gloves to protect your hands, carefully loosen and remove the sides of the cake tin. Place a serving plate over the cake and carefully turn it over. Remove the tin base and baking paper. This needs to be done while the cake is warm otherwise the caramel will harden and the cake will be more difficult to remove.
  6. Slice and serve the cake warm with ice cream as a dessert or by itself as a teatime treat.
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