Pear Honey and Walnut Upside-Down Cake

This perfect autumn cake is a result of my makeover of an old family recipe, the one from a huge collection of Russian recipes I’m planning to publish someday one way or another.

Feather-soft cardamom-spiced honey cake, sweet caramelized succulent pears, and crunchy walnuts sure make a memorable treat. The cake becomes out-of-this-world fantastic when served slightly warm with vanilla bean and honey ice cream.

Makes one 10-inch round cake, about 12 servings

For the topping:

  • 4 tbsp (½ stick; 2 oz) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 to 3 large ripe but firm Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and sliced vertically into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1 cup walnut halves and pieces, lightly toasted

For the cake:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick; 4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

Make the topping:

Center the oven rack and preheat the oven to 350F before you start making the topping.

In a well seasoned 10-inch cast iron skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat. Swirl the skillet to coat the bottom and the sides with melted butter. Add the brown sugar and honey and simmer, stirring, until most of the sugar is melted, about 2 minutes. Take off the heat. Arrange the pear slices decoratively in concentric circles over the melted sugar. Sprinkle the walnuts between and over the pear slices. Set aside while making the cake batter.

Make the cake:

Whisk the flour, cardamom, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

In another bowl whisk to combine the sour cream and vanilla extract. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for a few seconds, until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the honey and continue mixing for another 2 or 3 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the sour cream, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape the bowl as necessary, and beat only enough to incorporate the ingredients after each addition.

Spoon the batter in dollops over the pear slices in the skillet. Spread the batter evenly without disturbing the pears, and bake the cake until nicely browned and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, for about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool the cake in the skillet on a rack for 15 minutes.

Run a thin knife or offset spatula around the edge of the skillet and invert a large serving plate over the skillet. Wearing the oven mittens and keeping the plate and skillet firmly pressed together, invert the cake onto the plate. Carefully remove the skillet and let the cake cool on the plate on the rack. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream.

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20 Responses to “Pear Honey and Walnut Upside-Down Cake”

  1. Divine! A mouthwatering combination.



  2. This cake looks so delicious! I’m loving pears in baked goods this fall…yum!

  3. Looks very nice and tasty :)

  4. Just beautiful and so hearty. Thanks for sharing

  5. This cake looked so exquisite when I saw it this morning, I just couldn’t resist making it. I didn’t have sour cream so I used buttermilk instead. I have it in the oven right now, the house smells so good and it has risen beautifully. Can’t wait to eat it!

    Thanks for sharing this with us,


    P.S I think your blog is lovely

  6. Thank you for the kind words!

    Val, thank you. I hope you liked the taste as well )

  7. What a delicious looking cake. The flavors sound divine!
    Best, Sandie

  8. this looks so good, I really am interested in baking with pears after seeing some great ideas.

  9. Sandie, Sue, thank you.

  10. Thanks so much Vera for all your work with this blog, personally I consider it like a gift. I am a huge fan of Russian cuisine and I can’t wait to see what are you going to make. Coming from you, I know they will be taken to a whole different level.

  11. Adriana, thank YOU for such words! It means the world to me. The comments and e-mails like yours keep me going. Thank you.

  12. scrumptious! looks like the perfect afternoon tea treat :)

  13. This cake looks wonderful and delicious!
    I’ve just discovered your blog and I’m amazed

  14. Christine, Winnie, thank you very much!

  15. Hi Vera..
    A very delicious looking cake.. love ur site :)
    Kudos to all the good work..

    Is there a way to substitute the sour cream in this recipe? If yes, could you pls give me the measurements?
    Locally, it is hard to get readymade sour cream..

    Tnks a lot!!

  16. Madhu, thank you very much. You could use yogurt instead (the same amount) or 1/3 cup of buttermilk (or any other similar sour milk drink).

  17. Hello Vera,

    I made this cake, while everybody enjoyed it. I thought it was dense. Next time I will substitute sour cream with whole milk.


  18. Hi Vera,
    For the first time i made an upside down cake. It was simply divine! Everyone loved n enjoyed it .The flavor combination is just perfect!
    In love with your blog.
    Thank you so very much. :)

  19. What a lovely blog and how beautiful….I admire your baking and will have to try out your recipes. I would love to see your Russian recipes and if you want I can share some good Italian ones with you…I live in Florence!!!

    Susan, baker since she was 10 ;-)

  20. Do you mind if I quote a small numbеr of yоur blogpоstѕ аs long as I proνide creԁіt and sourceѕ rеturning to your weblog: httρ://wwω.
    I’m going to aslo make sure to give you the appropriate anchor text link using your webpage title: Pear Honey and Walnut Upside-Down Cake. Please let me know if this is ok with you. Thank you

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