Pear and Sweet Potato Upside Down Cake

January 12, 2022

Topped with beautifully arranged pears, this sweet potato upside down cake is baked in a cast iron pan, creating the gorgeously caramelized crust all home cooks chase. Sweet potatoes lend a tender crumb and an earthy sweetness to this delightful dessert. Our version of this recipe uses Olympic pears, but you're welcome (and encouraged!) to use any kind of pear you want to create your own unique spin on this sweet treat.



For the pear topping:

4 Tbsp. Local Roots unsalted butter

½ cup packed brown sugar

¼ tsp. salt

⅛ tsp. cinnamon

2 Local Roots pears


For the sweet potato cake:

2 medium or 3-4 small Local Roots sweet potatoes

8 Tbsp. Local Roots unsalted butter

1 cup Local Roots all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. ginger

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

2 Local Roots eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract



1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash sweet potatoes and prick them all over with a fork, then microwave for 7-12 minutes until soft to the center. Put aside to cool.

2. In a cast iron pan, melt 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter and stir in ½ cup brown sugar, ¼ tsp salt, and ⅛ tsp cinnamon until sugar crystals have dissolved into a caramel. Remove from heat. 

NOTE: We used a 10-inch cast iron pan for this cake, but if you have an 8 or 9-inch cast iron, that can work as well. The final cake will be thicker and may require more bake time than stated, however.

3. Peel two pears and slice the rounded sides into fourths so the core is squared and removed. Slice remaining pear into thin half moons. Arrange pear slices in a pattern on top of cast iron caramel. We recommend beginning with the outside edge and then filling into the center.

4. In a small bowl, melt eight Tbsps. of unsalted butter. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. When dry ingredients are well-mixed, add in two eggs, vanilla extract, and melted butter. Whisk until just combined.

5. Sweet potatoes should be cool enough to touch at this point. Peel skin from sweet potatoes and then place in a food processor to purée. Purée should amount to about 1 ½ cups. Add sweet potato purée to cake batter and whisk until smooth and batter turns slightly orange in color.

6. Pour sweet potato cake batter on top of the sliced pears. The batter will be thick, so use a spatula to spread it evenly within the pan. Tap the pan on the countertop two times to get rid of any potential air bubbles between batter and pears.

7. Bake in the 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 35-40 minutes, until the center has risen and a cake tester/butter knife inserted comes out clean.

8. When the cake is ready, let cool for five minutes. Do not leave the cake in the cast iron for longer than five minutes, as that may allow the caramel to set and stick to the pan. Wearing oven mitts or heatproof gloves, place a plate over the cast iron. Flip the pan over the plate and wait until you feel the cake drop down onto the plate. Slice and enjoy!


This recipe was created by Local Roots recipe contributor Irena Huang. 

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