I love my mother’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake which with a little nutmeg, vanilla and rum becomes distinctly Jamaican. Indeed the classic pineapple upside-down cake is a very popular Jamaican cake.

It was her upside-down cake I had in mind as I looked at the pear tree in the garden so heavy with fruit that the branches were bending to the floor.  Those pears was calling to become a version of this cake.

A good pear harvest this year.

Pears from the garden.  Fruit trees have had a great year.

Wonderful flavours with classic Jamaican spices this is a Jamaican style upside-down cake using orchard fruit. It would work equally well with apples. This version is gluten-free using almond (almond tastes so good with pears) and I’ve also used cornmeal flour to give it more texture.  You could also try coconut flour in place of the cornmeal flour which would taste great with pineapple. The recipe reduces sugar content by using honey/maple syrup/coconut palm sugar.

Enjoy your upside-down pear cake!



Spiced Pear Upside-Down Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 8 pears
  • 4 tbsp honey/maple syrup/coconut palm sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 inch fresh ginger (grated)
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste/1 vanilla pod (scape the seeds)
  • 1 tsp Island Spice (or use 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground star anise, 1/4 pimento, 1/4 grated orange peel)
  • 1 tbsp white rum (optional)
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup honey/maple syrup
  • 1 large egg


Heat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.

Peel the pears and cut lengthways into halves.

In a large pan, place pears, honey, water, ginger, vanilla paste (vanilla pod seeds), cinnamon, Island Spice and cook gently for 20 mins until pears are tender but still whole.

Once cooked, turn off heat and place to one side.

Put almond flour, cornmeal flour, baking powder and sea salt into a mixing bowl and set aside.

Place butter, honey, egg and vanilla into another mixing bowl and beat until creamy (you can do this in a blender for speed).

Take the pears out of the juice and lay close together in the cake tin.

Add the rum to the pear juice.  Save some of the pear juice to make a syrup to drizzle over the cake later.

Slowly add the dry ingredients and the pear juice to the batter mixture. Alternate adding the dry and juice. Each time mix the the ingredients into the cake mixture. It’s important to add the juice slowly to ensure the mixture maintains a batter consistency.

Place greaseproof paper inside a 22 cm spring form cake tin. Place the pears at the bottom, closely packed together in a circular pattern.  Arranging them in this way will look pretty once baked.

Carefully pour the cake batter over the pears.

Bake for about 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes.

With the saved pear juice make a syrup by slowly heating and reducing down.  If you need more liquid add more honey and water.

Turn the cake upside-down onto a plate or serving platter.  Let it sit for another 5-10 mins. Remove the cake tin and greaseproof paper.

Drizzle the pear syrup on top before serving.


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