Sweet Potato Cake with Sliced Pears

Pears have never really been my thing.  If I am going to fully enjoy one, I need to make sure it’s hard enough to knock any startled predator to the ground with one swift blow to the head.  Just a girl and her pear against the world.  Crunch.

However, if you will begin to notice any theme with me, it’s that I love me some cake.  Sweeten the deal with a little cinnamon and I’ll follow you anywhere.

I felt the need to do something honorable to the pear.  Something that requires it to go slightly past its violent prime.  I needed to start to open my mind.  Bring the pear to a world of sugar and spice that I already love and then see what it can do.

So I decided to sit it upon a golden tuber throne.  We shall call it even, pear.  Let us feast together in delicious, tender sweetness.  Just this once.

We then shall see what possibilities await us.

Remove rough rags from a luscious fruit.

Cubed butter forces its way between the clingy sugar granules and then gets spread in a pan.

 Water the pear slices with bourbon to see if they grow.  Then try watering yourself.

Sprinkle the layer of white flesh with a gentle cinnamon snowfall.

The white waits while the wet is prepared.

Here comes the game changer.

And then the game gets changed again- this time to orange.

And then again.  Just kidding.  That’s flour.  Game unchanged.

Warm those bare pears with a draping of spicy batter.

Take  a picture before eating.  Write A+ on it.  Place it on your fridge.

Dee.  Lish.

Sweet Potato Cake with Sliced Pears

Yeah, that’s right.  Sweet potato and pears.  Really this should just be called moist and delicious upside down pear cake but that would take away the shock value (yes, I do believe that an orange potato and a brown fruit can create such a response).  The sweet potatoes make a moist cake that cozies right up with its cinnamon and molasses friends while supporting a subtly sweet and tender layer of baked pears.  Neither flavor really owns the cake but with a crispy bottom and tender inside, you won’t really care if it’s a turnip cake at this point.

Cake portion adapted from Bon Appetit November 2001

Top of cake/bottom of pan

  • 2 medium bosc pears
  • 1/2 C butter, cold
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • bourbon to brush sliced pears (optional)


  • 1 1/2 C cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 C grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 C white sugar
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C mashed, cooked sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/2 tsp molasses
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease the sides of a 9 inch round cake pan
  2. For the bottom of the pan, slice the butter into cubes and cut it into the brown sugar to make a buttery paste.  Spread this paste evenly in the bottom of the pan.
  3. Peel and core the pears and then slice them vertically in 1/4 inch thick slices.  If you’d like, brush each piece front and back with bourbon and let sit for 5 min.  Either way, sprinkle both sides with cinnamon and then place the slices evenly on the bottom of the cake pan in one thin, overlapping layer.
  4. To make the cake, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.
  5. Separately, mix the oil with the sugars until blended.  Add the eggs and vanilla to this and mix.  Then the molasses and finally mix in the sweet potatoes.
  6. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture in 2 parts, stirring until it just comes together.
  7. Pour the cake over the pears, making sure to leave a good inch for the cake to rise
  8. Place the cake in the oven with a large, rimmed pan on the shelf beneath it to catch any potential butter from bubbling over.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes until toothpick from the center comes out clean or when the top is brown and rounded, springin back upon touching.
  10. Place cake on cooling rack to cool slightly.  Then invert onto serving tray and enjoy warm or at room temperature.  Dig in!

Private pear pointers:

  1.  Use slightly ripe pears for this recipe- not too hard and not so ripe that they are falling apart when cut.
  2. This recipe rocks with apples too.  Follow your craving.
  3. Don’t worry about the top of the cake browning too much while baking as you’ll enjoy that crisp contrast to the soft top once it has cooled.
  4. When I flip the cake over, I tap (or pound depending on my mood) the bottom of the cake pan to make sure anything that might be stuck is going to release itself.  You’ve only got one go for the money shot.  But all of it is delicious even if it’s not so perfect on top.
This entry was posted in cake, recipe and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sweet Potato Cake with Sliced Pears

  1. kyleen says:

    This looks delicious! The whole upside down thing came out beautifully. I’m always a little paranoid that my apples or whatnot will get stuck to the bottom of the pan, but I’m willing to take that risk so I can make this cake.

  2. hungrygems says:

    I know a whole stick of butter can get me to do just about anything so I know it helps this cake come out too…don’t remove the cake pan from the plate you’re shifting the cake to until you’ve tapped it and can feel it release…thanks for stopping by and happy baking!

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s