Pear Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Starring the best winter fruit, this upside-down cake wows with a sliced pear pinwheel top bejeweled with ruby cranberries.

The tender brown sugar cake pairs wonderfully with the pears and cranberries. It is warmed by lovely baking spices and kept moist with additional grated pear and chopped cranberries in the batter. A delicious alternative dessert for any holiday meal, this upside-down cake is a snap to make and celebrates the best flavors of the season! 

Pear Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
Use ripe Bosc pears for their firmer and drier texture, which will ensure that they hold their shape during baking. Make sure you cook the brown sugar for the topping slowly and fully until all the graininess from the sugar is dissolved into the melted butter. Use room temperature butter for the bake batter. Beat the butter and sugar long enough until it is fully smooth and then add each egg individually, again beating after each addition until smooth and fully incorporated. This cake is best served immediately after it cools, thanks to the fresh fruit, and it will only keep well for a day or two after baking – don’t wait to enjoy it!


Cake Topping Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 Bosc pears (approx. 2 1/4 lbs)
  • ½ cup cranberries

Cake Batter Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar light brown
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup Bosc pears, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup cranberries, chopped


Preheat the oven to 350º F. Butter a 9×2” round cake pan and place a parchment round on the bottom of the pan.

For the Cake Topping

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and light brown sugar together, stirring until fully smooth, 5-7 minutes. Pour into the prepared cake pan. Peel and slice the Bosc pears into eighths. Arrange the pear slices into an attractive pinwheel design in the bottom of the cake pan, place pear in two layers if needed to use up the pear slices. Place a cranberry in the center of the pinwheel and cranberries around the edge of the base.

For the Cake Batter

In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger together. In another small bowl, stir together the orange zest, grated pear, and chopped cranberries.

In a stand mixer, cream the room temperature butter and light brown sugar together until fully smooth, 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat after each addition until the egg is fully incorporated and smooth. By hand, fold in the flour mixture in 3 batches alternating with the fruit mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.

Pour the batter over the fruit in the cake pan. Gently tap on the kitchen counter a few times to distribute the batter. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool only 10 minutes before turning out onto cake plate. Peel off the parchment paper and cool fully before serving.

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