Maple-Pear Upside-Down Cake
Maple-Pear Upside-Down Cake

Maple-Pear Upside-Down Cake

The King Arthur Baking School

This New England twist on the classic upside-down cake, which comes from The Baking School Cookbook, is proof that a 100% whole-grain dessert doesn’t have to compromise on flavor or texture. The hint of spice makes it a perfect dessert from early fall to late spring, and it’s just as good with coffee at breakfast (the maple syrup lends major pancake vibes) as it is with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for dessert. For a change of pace, try this with your favorite apple variety in the height of fall. 

15 mins
30 to 40 mins
50 mins
one 9" round cake
Maple-Pear Upside-Down Cake  - select to zoom
Maple-Pear Upside-Down Cake  - select to zoom
Maple-Pear Upside-Down Cake  - select to zoom
Maple-Pear Upside-Down Cake - select to zoom


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  1. To make the topping: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" round pan and line it with parchment

  2. In a small bowl or liquid measure, whisk together the butter and syrup and pour into the prepared pan. 

  3. Arrange the sliced pears in the bottom of the pan. Set aside. 

  4. To make the cake: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger on medium speed until well combined, about 1 to 2 minutes.  

  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl between each addition. This should take about 1 to 2 minutes total.    

  6. Add the flour and buttermilk alternately in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat gently, for about 1 minute, until combined.  

  7. Spread the batter over the pears. 

  8. Bake the cake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick or paring knife inserted into the center comes out clean. 

  9. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert it onto a plate. Be sure to unmold the cake while it’s still warm – if the cake cools too much in the pan, it can stick to the bottom and won’t unmold properly. Once you flip it, allow it cool completely before serving. 

  10. Storage information: Store any leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator for up to five days. 

Tips from our Bakers

  • Allowing the cake to cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the pan before unmolding it reduces the changes that it will crumble when inverted. For best unmolding success, first gently run an offset spatula or knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Then place your nondominant hand, covered with an oven mitt, under the warm cake pan. Place a platter or cutting board on top of the cake, with your dominant hand opened wide on the platter or board. In a careful-yet-swift motion, flip everything so that the platter and your dominant hand are now on the bottom and your nondominant hand is on top of the inverted cake pan. Set the platter or board down, then carefully remove the cake pan. 

  • If the cake does start to stick, pop it back in a warm oven for a few minutes and try unmolding it again. 

  • You may need 1 or 2 pears to slice and cover the bottom of the 9" cake pan when slightly shingling (overlapping) them. The ripeness of the pear also plays a role: If the pear is very ripe, you’ll want to use slightly thicker slices so that they hold their shape better during baking, meaning you’ll get fewer slices per pear. If your pear is underripe, you’ll need to make thinner slices so that they bake through (so you’ll get more slices out of each pear). Sometimes you end up with a small area in the center of the pan, where the tips of the slices meet, that isn’t covered. When that happens, fill in the gaps with some diced pear, which gives the pan a pretty flower-like pattern.