Pear Upside-Down Cake

Serve this cake either warm or at room temperature. Using walnut oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, helps cut down on butter and gives the cake a rich flavor.
Body+Soul, 2008
  • Yield Serves 12
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  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 3 Bosc pears, peeled, halved, cored, and cut into 18 wedges
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup reduced-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup walnut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter with 1/4 cup sugar in a 12-inch cast-iron or large skillet over medium. Arrange pears in a circular fashion, around the edge of the pan. Cook, without turning pears, until pears are golden underneath, 18 to 20 minutes (rotating pan as necessary for even browning).

  2. In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; whisk to combine. In a medium bowl, combine remaining sugar, eggs, buttermilk, applesauce, oil, and vanilla; whisk to combine. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and whisk until just combined.

  3. Pour batter over pears; spread to cover. Transfer to the oven; bake until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge and turn out onto a serving platter.

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