Adapted from Jennifer Verrill


Jennifer Verrill once won a local award for her mixed-spice pineapple upside-down cake seasoned with cardamom and coriander. She was raised on her mother’s classic version of the cake, complete with canned pineapple and red cherries. We thought this recipe of Jenn’s was particularly appropriate at this time — not only for the season and looking ahead to spring and a new farm stand but also as an ode to “attitude is everything.” Why not share a little upside-down confection to set life right?


Makes 24 muffin-sized cakes


For the Pears

3 Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and sliced

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon five-spice powder (available at Asian markets)

2 Tablespoons sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

2. In a medium-size bowl, toss the pears with the butter, spice powder and sugar. Roast them in a baking dish for 20 minutes or until they are brown at the edges.


For the Cake

Shortening (for the pans) or Pam

2¾ cups flour

1¼ teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ cup canola oil

½ cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup molasses

2 Tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped

1 cup hot water

1 cup heavy cream, whipped (for serving)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 24 regular-sized muffin cups. Line each cup with about 4 slices of roasted pear.


2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.


3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the oil, sugar, eggs, molasses and ginger. Beat well until combined. Gradually add the dry ingredients until they are blended. With the mixer set on low speed, beat in the water.


4. Ladle the batter over the pears, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Bake the cakes for 18 minutes or until they are set.


5. Turn the cakes upside down onto a platter and serve warm with whipped cream.