Did you know it’s National Caramel Day today? I stumbled upon that little fact by accident this morning and I am so glad I happened to notice that. Because had I not, this Daring Gourmet original would never have been born! It’s like happening to be at the right time and place when an unannounced sale starts and you’re able to nab a smokin’ deal. And you think yourself, “Wow, had I come 5 minutes earlier or later, I would have missed it.” That’s kinda how I feel about this cake. To think it might never have been born is…is…unthinkable! So, thank you National Caramel Day for giving me a reason to create this goopey-gooey, oozing-ooey, caramelicious cake!
Back to this morning. Having just realized it was National Caramel Day I stood pondering in my kitchen what I could make to honor a day of such importance. I was holding my 10 month old daughter in my arms and my toddler came wandering in. He pointed to some organic pears I had just purchased to make baby food with for my daughter, and said enthusiastically, “Apples!” I chuckled and held up a pear to show him the difference in shape. I smelled it and then had him smell it. Then I smelled it again. And again. And I rotated it around in my free hand as the wheels began to turn. I started thinking how nicely pear and caramel would go together. And then suddenly I had it. Eureka! I asked my baby daughter for permission to use some of her pears for this cake and she smiled happily, squealed with delight, and gave a little jump in my arms (honestly truly), and so having received the green light I set my mode to “GO!”
I knew I had about 30 minutes of overlap time in which my kids would be napping simultaneously and I went to work. Prep time only took about 20 minutes, and that included brainstorming final ingredients and ratios. It turned out perfectly. I couldn’t have been happier with it.
You are going to looooooooove this cake. Don’t sit and debate the idea. Just make it! Trust me.
The cake itself is rich and super moist with deliciously gooey areas where the buttery brown sugar sauce soaked in. It is served with creamy caramel sauce drizzled over the top. And, if you like, for some added decadence add a dollop of whipped cream.
And…drum roll, please…it’s 100% whole wheat! But healthy alternatives aside, I prefer the flavor of the whole wheat in this cake. It’s richer, deeper, earthier, nuttier, and complements the gingerbread undertones and caramel much better than white flour.
Upside down cakes can often look a little intimidating, but they’re actually pretty easy to make. Some recipes will have you take unnecessary steps to melt dry sugar over the stove top first, which can be a little irking. This cake is straightforward and no tricky techniques required.
Let’s make that Whole Wheat Pear Upside Down Gingerbread Cake with Caramel Sauce!
Grease a 9X3 inch baking pan. I use and LOVE Magic Line pans.
Evenly sprinkle the brown sugar in the bottom of the pan and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Spread out the butter pieces on top of the brown sugar. Place the pan in the preheated oven and leave it in there for about 8 minutes.
In the meantime, peel, core, and slice two pears. Whether the pears are large or medium, two should be enough.
Remove the pan from the oven.
Stir the butter/sugar mixture until combined and smooth. Spread it out evenly over the bottom of the pan.
Place the pear slices on top of the butter/sugar mixture, fanning them out like spokes in a circular fashion.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
Add the oil, eggs and milk (sorry, added the milk after the pic). Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer just until combined.
Grate about 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger.
Add the ginger to batter and beat just until combined.
Pour the batter evenly over the pears.
Bake in an oven preheated to 325 degrees F for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
In the meantime, to make the caramel sauce, add the butter, sugar and cream to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. As soon as the butter has all melted, continue to boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Set aside until ready to serve.
Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 20 minutes.
Invert the cake onto a cake platter.
Spread just a couple of tablespoons of the caramel sauce over the top. Reserve the rest to serve with the cake.
Serve the cake with the remaining caramel sauce to drizzle over.
- 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter, cut into several pieces
- 2 pears, peeled, cored, and cut into wedges
- 1½ cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ginger powder
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- For the caramel sauce:
- ½ cup whipping cream
- ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Grease a 9X3 inch round cake pan (I use Magic Line)
- Spread the brown sugar out evenly on the bottom of the cake pan and spread out the butter pieces on top of the sugar. Place the pan in the oven for 8 minutes.
- Remove the pan and stir the butter/sugar mixture until combined and smooth. Spread it out evenly on the bottom of the pan.
- Lay the pear wedges on top of the butter/sugar mixture in spoke/circular fashion.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger. Add the eggs, oil and milk and beat just until combined. Add the fresh grated ginger and beat just until combined.
- Pour the batter evenly over the pears in the pan. Bake in an oven preheated to 325 degrees F for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting it onto a cake platter.
- To make the caramel sauce: Place all sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the butter is completely melted, let the sauce simmer for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
- Spread about 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce evenly over the warm cake (on top of the pear wedges).
- Serve the cake with the remaining caramel sauce to drizzle over.