Gift Guide: A Cake for Christmas

December 23, 2016


Part sticky toffee pudding, part upside down cake, this glorious English confection comes together easily, requires no exotic ingredients- and is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Best of all, it fills your house with the warm mingled aroma of ginger, nutmeg, clove and cinnamon.

If you’re looking for the perfect dessert to take to a Christmas feast, look no farther.  This is easy to transport, and it keeps very well.

Should you want to make this a really impressive present, throw in a 10 inch pre-seasoned cast iron skillet.l8sk3_nYou can find them at most stores – or go right to the source, the Lodge Company.  I consider this particular skillet an essential kitchen tool; you can never have too many.

And now… The Perfect Christmas Cake

Sticky Upside Down Pear and Gingerbread Cake

Preheat the oven to 350.

Butter a 9 1/2 or 10 inch cake tin, then line the bottom with parchment paper.  (Alternatively, use a 10 inch cast iron skillet; if it’s well-seasoned you won’t need the parchment paper.)

Melt 2/3 of a stick of butter with 3/4 cup of brown sugar in a small pot until it turns into a creamy, caramel-colored glop.  Pour it into the cake tin and tip the pan to make the syrup evenly cover the bottom of the pan.

Peel 4 fat Bosc pears and cut off the tip and bottom end. (Do not core them; they’ll look so much better left to their own devices). Cut each pear in half and lay it in the pan, cut side down, with its tip pointing into the center of the pan. Set aside while you mix the gingerbread.

Put 1 and a half cups of all purpose flour into a small bowl.  Whisk in 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and a teaspoon of ground ginger. Grate in a bit of nutmeg. Add a pinch of ground clove.

In another bowl beat 2 eggs.  Stir in a cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup molasses or sorghum, 2/3 cups milk and a stick of melted butter. Grate in a small knob of fresh ginger.

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until comes together into a smooth batter.  Pour over the pears, smooth the top and bake for about an hour, until a toothpick comes out fairly clean.  (Timing will depend on the size of your pan.)

Set on a wire rack to cool for a few minutes, then run a knife around the edge.

Find a large plate or cake platter. Place a sturdy oven mitt on each hand. Set the plate on top of the cake, then turn the whole thing upside down as quickly as possible.  The cake should slide easily out of the pan, leaving the pears smiling up at you. 

Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.


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  • Todd G says:

    This recipe was love at first sight – we loved the flavors and the warm, “old fashioned” combination of molasses and spices. Next time (and for sure there’ll be a next time) I’ll probably give it much longer. The texture was still quite liquid after the recommended 50 minutes. The toothpick come out clean-ish after an hour, but the center of the unmolded cake was pretty oozy and liquid still – more like a delicious pudding and for sure a piece wouldn’t hold its shape. Any other thoughts? Am I the only one to have this issue? My oven is pretty new and usually quite reliable.

    Thanks for any ideas. Love the work and the homey recipes.

  • Laura G. Chirinos says:

    I made this twice over the holidays to great fanfare! Thanks for sending, much love in 2017!