Upside Down Apple-Pear Molasses Cake

Through cooking we can express and articulate longing, whether we are conscious of it, or not. I wish that I were here, a place I’ve been and to where I want to return. Wherever here may be. Or home. If that exists. It may be on the other side of the world or down the street. Or off alone on an exotic adventure. Or with my family when I was seven and we all took a road trip to Florida. In a shiny city with rooftop dinner parties strung with lanterns, or on a farm, where we got the eggs for breakfast from our very own backyard chickens and vegetables from the kitchen garden. At holidays, for birthday parties, or cozy Sunday nights, or winter picnics in the living room in front of the fireplace Thursdays just because, we make food with intention, to celebrate and remember, to create a ritual around eating, because it means so much to us. Food matters. Most when we want to show people that we love them. Live through our unexamined traditions, demonstrate how we are who we are. Kosher. Italian-American. Halal. Yucatecan. Polish. Southern. Texan. Vegetarian. Pescatarian. Fruitarian. Hunters. Gatherers. Taco Bellians. Russian. Mongolian. Canadian.

We’re telling a story with every meal we make. When I need to feel in control, like I’m good at all this and aren’t messing all of us up all the time, I walk to my pantry and round up what I need to bake a cake. I love having all that I need, from molasses, to cinnamon, to butter in stock. In the fruit bowl there was one apple and three small pears. So I used those. It was earlier than eight in the morning. I set Violet on the floor with plastic tubs and spoons and set to work, melting butter in the skillet, measuring out sugar, peeling and slicing the apples and pears. Light was streaming in from every window and I warmed our home with butter, sugar, and spice. This molasses ginger cake has a sugary chewiness that is just divine.

Upside Down Apple Pear Molasses Cake

Upside Down Apple-Pear Molasses Cake
Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit


  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspo0ns salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 baking powder
  • 3/4 baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup Demerara sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3-4 apples or pears


In a deep, 10-inch skillet, melt the butter. In a medium-size bowl, combine flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, and cloves. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together egg, molasses, and 1/4 cup sugar. Then fold in sour cream and milk. Combine with dry ingredients and 3 tablespoons melted butter and set batter aside. Over a medium-high flame, stir 1/4 cup sugar into melted butter. Cook, 2-3 minutes. Add apples/pears and coat in sugar-butter. Cook down, 5-8 minutes. Arrange fruit evenly in the skillet and pour batter over. Bake 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.

Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road.

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