Upside Down Caramelized Pear and Almond Cake {Gluten-Free}

Vanilla and brown sugar baked pears top this recipe for pear upside down cake. The bottom-turned-top boasts a soft, gluten-free almond cake with a light texture just firm enough to stand up to the caramelized pears.
Upside Down Caramelized Pear and Almond Cake #recipe via

The sun shines warmer this week, evidenced by puddles that have replaced layers of ice pack and the softening snow. Each afternoon the kids stomp through the door, their coats draped over their arms, cheeks flushed and their nostrils flaring in the brisk air. Smiles adorn their faces as pink skin soaks up vitamin D during their post-school traipsing.

Our neighbors have opened their garage door, pulling lawn chairs onto the slick black driveway and observing the slow melt as we head into spring. The children celebrate in boots and snow pants and t-shirts, climbing the mounds of snow that line the driveway before sliding down on wet bottoms again and again. Impromptu dinners eaten surrounded by mounds of snow in the fresh air are held in celebration.
Upside Down Caramelized Pear and Almond Cake #recipe via
I recently purchased a few pears for a client project I am working on, and once the food had been staged and shot, two brown-skinned Boscs remained on the counter. After slicing into one, dipping it gently in lemon juice, and packing it away in a lunch box, there was a lone pear that remained, stolid.

There it sat until yesterday, when it became the focal point for a cake. The sun shining outside, a cake still warm from the oven greeted my coat-shirking bunch. When the door swung open they were hit with the redolence of baking pears and light almond cake coming together in the oven. Browning sugars had caramelized to a high gloss over the baked fruit, and soon there were takers flooding the kitchen, the promise of cake hanging in their nose.
Upside Down Caramelized Pear and Almond Cake #recipe via
This Thursday is a get-together worth getting out for. James Beard nominated Michelle Gayer of Salty Tart in partnership with Share Our Strength and their Minneapolis chef chair James Beard winner Tim McVee of La Belle Vie are hosting another Minneapolis Cakewalk event. Each dollar of ticket sales will go towards ending childhood hunger in America. Share Our Strength is dedicated to helping the 17 million children that struggle with food insecurity through initiatives like the Cooking Matters program and No Kid Hungry, which educates families about nutrition, cooking, and including healthy food on a budget.

You can still grab a ticket to join us this Thursday, March 13th at 8p in Minneapolis. Aria at The Jeune Lune is hosting, and there will be drinks, dancing, and plenty of cake for everyone. When the weather is warming, there is little else to do but celebrate and eat cake that benefits others. Perhaps I’ll see you there?

Upside Down Caramelized Pear and Almond Cake {Gluten-Free}



  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Bosc pear
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom


  1. Preheat the oven to 350ยบF. Line an 8" cake pan with parchment.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add in the brown sugar and the salt and stir, cooking until the edges bubble and the sugar is dissolved stirring continuously. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Immediately pour the sauce over the parchment, spreading with the back of a spoon or spatula if necessary.
  3. Slice the pear in half and core using a melon baller. Thinly slice each half into ⅛-1/4" pieces. Arrange the slices over the caramel, fanning them out from the center.
  4. Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  5. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the yolks using a hand beater until they are thick and pale yellow. Slowly mix in the sugar, followed by the almond extract, the almond flour, arrowroot powder, and the cardamom. The mixture will be quite thick.
  6. Gently mix in half of the egg whites. When they are incorporated, fold in the remaining egg whites. The batter may be slightly streaked with white. This is fine. Be careful not to overmix when folding.
  7. Pour the cake batter over the pears. Spread into an even layer, fully covering the pears.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the center is set. Remove from the oven and invert onto a plate while still warm. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6


Upside Down Caramelized Pear and Almond Cake #recipe via
Behind the Scenes:

  • This cake finished baking minutes after the kids ran through the door. As I pulled it out, flipped it onto the plate, and then set up a space to photograph it, I was bumped and badgered by one small soul in particular. He informed me of his thoughts on the whole process by explaining, “I don’t like pictures of cake. Cake is for eating, not for pictures.”
  • After consuming her piece, a small girl in raspberry-colored pants let me know what she thought of my cake attempts, “It’s kind of like pie because you get all the warm fruit and the cake, too. Much better than frosted cake.”
  • And finally, as I was cleaning up the dishes and hiding away a piece for their father I heard, “Why did you only make one?”


  1. This is so pretty!! I am not normally a pear person, but I am pretty I would go crazy for this! I love how the pears get nice and caramelized on the bottom!

    Great post, I loved reading it!

    Oh and ya for snow melt!

  2. LOVE the comments from the peanut gallery. So familiar. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Seriously, I need a slice of this to go with my afternoon tea. I’m sitting and watching the snow come down and fighting the urge to scream. It’s supposed to get cold. Very cold. Winter is back and how to cope? I’m thinking you have the answer right here.

  3. My kids would agree that food is for eating, not photographing! They are often hovering just outside of all the food photos I take saying “now can we eat it? now? now?” ha!

    This cake looks delicious – this is my favorite kind of dessert, well this and pudding of any variety. mmm!

  4. P.S. Those plates are gorgeous – I love them!

  5. Beautiful, my friend! Love pears in anything, and also love that it’s gluten-free! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Upside down, girl you turn me… inside out ; ) …. Love this cake!

  7. This is my kind of cake, I want to sit down to a big slice of it along with a nice cup of tea.

  8. This is so gorgeous! Wish I had a big slice right now!

  9. Just love the almond, cardamom and pear combination. And the comments! So cute.

  10. I love the simplicity of this dish. Looks delicious and a great dessert for spring. I will have to try this summer. We get so many pears from my parents garden!

  11. Looks delicious!

  12. gorgeous and gluten free! I am giving this a try!

  13. My WORD this looks lovely. I love pear desserts. I love almond desserts. I LOVE this.

  14. I am in serious need of this cake! love it!

  15. So gorgeous. Hmmm…I have 2 Bosc pears sitting on my counter right now… (love your family’s comments!)

  16. So pretty – I used to make pineapple upside down cakes when I was a kid – love this more elegant version.

  17. It was warm for about five minutes this week. And now it’s cold again. At least it’s sunny and with the clocks going forward, the days are longer. So, there are a few positives. I just can’t wait for it to be 20+ degrees warmer. That would bring it to the 50s. :-/

    Love everything about this pear cake. How rustic it looks and that it utilizes almond flour (so much more flavorful than other gf flours).

    • Thanks, Brian! I jinxed the weather with this post. It was -2ยบF again last night, 11ยบF right now. Sigh. Spring is coming, right? I hope it warms up for you, too!

  18. I love your behind the scenes! Your family is so cute ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. This looks beautiful. I love pears and I love upside down cakes so this is close to perfection.

  20. Carolee Noury says:

    This cake was delicious!

    I have an ingredient question for you:

    This recipe my first experience using almond flour. The bag I bought has a recipe for a lovely sounding cake. It calls for 1 1/2 cups of almond flour and 1/2 cup of coconut flour.

    I did some research, but couldn’t find the answer–is the coconut flour necessary, do you think? Or could I do all almond?

    Thanks, Shaina! Love this recipe!

  21. Larissa says:

    Whipped this up in 10mins before a dinner party of 4. In our Ozzie winter of 20 oC we needed some warming up! Well we ate it all….. Yum. Thank you.

  22. Michelle says:

    Thanks for sharing this!! Made this when I sliced too many pears for the kiddos we had over for lunch and it turned out SO yummy!! ๐Ÿ™‚ A gluten-free keeper!!

  23. Arbitrary Pseudonym says:

    Not sure if you’re still checking comments, because the last two on this post were pretty spammy, but just in case I’ll ask whether the almond flour measurement is packed or not. I’m definitely going to have to try this recipe, so if I don’t hear back from you it’s experiment time. Thank you for the gluten-free recipe; fad diets come and go, but celiac disease is forever. And almond flour’s just plain awesome.

    • Sorry I’m just seeing this. I wasn’t getting comments in my inbox for a while. The almond flour is not packed, just measured as you would any all purpose flour (scoop and sweep). I hope this helps!

  24. Nice! The almond flour makes this the best pear tart recipe I could find online! It’s baking right now! Can’t wait to try it!

  25. Just finding this a year and a half late! So simple, so easy and sooo good! Made this for my normal Sunday family dinner – I don’t usually make desserts – and everyone raved about it! Silly me, I didn’t take any pics! But I will make it again, take pictures and share your site! Thank you!

  26. Chicagogal says:

    Just made it. Smells delicious but a few comments- 1) The caramel hardens on the parchment paper almost immediately so I wasn’t able to spread it fast enough to cover the entire base. I’m imagining it redistributed in the oven but I had half of my pear slices without hardened caramel. Wish there were some more comments throughout the recipe directions so I knew if this should be expected. 2) The batter basically becomes a crumbly ball because there’s not enough moisture. It didn’t completely cover the pears because there’s hardly enough of it. I might call this a tart instead of a cake since each bit of pear will have just a very small amount of batter…like 1/4-1/2 inch. I wanted to make it as directed first but I would have preferred 2-3 times the amount of actual cake. 3) I had to bake this for 65 minutes at 350 to get the cake to set and turn golden brown. I have no idea how 25 minutes would be adequate unless quite a bit of extra moisture was added to the batter. 4) Luckily had foil beneath the shelf where it was baking because the caramel seeps from the springform pan and would have burnt my entire oven. As is I have burnt caramel in the back of the oven where there was no foil that is going to be a real pain to clean up. If people use a springform pan they should put a double layer of foil around the entire rim of it before baking. Probably would not make this again because the instructions weren’t helpful enough leaving me questioning whether I was doing everything right at various steps, and I’d be surprised if the caramel on the cake isn’t burnt. What choice did I have- burnt caramel or raw cake given the inaccurate baking time? Frustrated.

    • Hi, Randi. I’m sorry you’re having a difficult time with the recipe.

      First, regarding the caramel. It sounds like you cooked the sauce too long. The edges should just bubble, not the entire thing boil, which takes very little time. Keeping the cooking time low, just to dissolve the sugar, will prevent it from reaching a candy stage and hardening once you spread it on the parchment.

      Second, yes, the batter is crumbly before you add in the whipped egg whites. (The whites and the yolks are whipped separately.) The egg whites become quite voluminous once whipped to stiff peak form, and this volume is what gives the batter its moisture and allows it to have enough volume to cover the pears thoroughly. There should be 1.5″ or so of cake under each pear, as you can see from the photos. (Since I don’t know if this was an issue or not, I’m basing the following on conjecture, but I think if you have the appropriate volume of whipped egg whites, this light and fluffy cake will bake faster for you as it will not be very dense.)

      Finally, I did not use a spring form pan, but an 8″ cake pan, as stated in the recipe, because, yes, caramel will fall through a spring form. It is able to be inverted because it is lined with parchment, and so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. I’m sorry you had issues using a spring form pan; however, if you had asked beforehand, I would have told you why I prefer the 8″ pan and recommended placing the entire pan on a baking sheet.

      As I’m sure you can see in the comments before, several people have made this cake with success. It is a family favorite and one that we bring often to family events because we have relatives with celiac. I hope you’ll consider giving it another shot, and if you have any questions or need clarification on the recipe, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

  27. Hi, can you still make this cake without arrowroot powder?

  28. Hi Shaina, Thanks for this delicious recipe! I have made your UPSIDE DOWN CARAMELIZED PEAR AND ALMOND CAKE over and over and over over the last couple of years. Beautiful flavor and so pretty (even when i put it together in a messy way). Cheers! Luna

  29. This is heavenly! I thought the crust tasted like doughnuts. My husband wanted more crust and more flavor on the pears but I thought the pears were perfect. I didn’t have cardamom so I used a little cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. I’ll definitely make again and double the crust!

  30. Hi there, This cake sounds wonderful.
    Is it possible to substitute something non-dairy for the butter?

  31. I made my batch with earth balance non dairy spread and it was good. ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. I made this cake for Thanksgiving dessert in 2015 and then again by request for a birthday. This time it is for a work holiday party.
    People compliment on how pretty it is even if the arrangement of pears isn’t perfect. I lived in rural Idaho and left out the cardamom and it still tasted lovely.
    Thank you for this recipe!

  33. J. Wolfe says:

    Just found this recipe and like it a lot, I just wish there was a little more cake part to it, have you ever tried to increase the cake part of the recipe, would you have any advice or just a straight double up?

  34. Mandy Jeppsen says:

    This cake is so delicious and simple!!
    I made it for a Sunday family breakfast- I suspect Iโ€™ll be making this one many more times.

  35. Could you please give a little more information about the caramel piece of this recipe? For example, what consistency should it be when you pour it on the parchment and about how long does it take to get to that consistency? When I made this, the caramel was a candy layer stuck to the parchment ๐Ÿ™ Should it be a gritty mushy consistency when you put it on the parchment?



  1. […] with a cake. I feel as though this cake may be cheating just a bit. It is very similar to another gluten-free cake I made this spring with a pear and a bit of caramel sauce. However, it is also different. I mean, […]

  2. […] Upside Down Caramelized Pear and Almond Cake from Food for My Family […]

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