Chestnut Pear Upside-Down Cake

I think I’ve finally accepted the fact that it’s not summer anymore.

According to my criteria (quick reminder: school starts, leaves drop, local berries leave the supermarkets), we’re finally three-for-three around here.


There are some good things about autumn — sure! — good things like apples and pears and pumpkins and crisp, cold mornings and leaves that go cronsch cronsch cronsch as you shuffle through them.

But seriously — who actually prefers autumn over summer? TOTALLY. NOT. ME.

Actually, one of the things I do get excited about in late September are chestnuts.

When I was a kid, me and the other kids on the block used to make a competition out of seeing who could gather the most horse chestnuts. We’d compare our biggest chestnuts, marvel at the occasional delight of finding a double chestnut (two chestnuts in one soft, spiny shell), and then chuck ’em at each other in chestnut wars.

While I’m no longer a champion chestnut chucker, my fondness for chestnuts is as strong as ever!

Anyways, this recipe contains two (possibly) hard to find ingredients: chestnut flour and chestnut liqueur. Both are worth trying.

There’s no substitute for chestnut flour, unfortunately — nothing can replace it’s delicate, earthy sweetness — but 2 tablespoons of chestnut liqueur can be substituted with 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 2 teaspoons of brandy, and an extract pinch of cinnamon.

If you love fall baking though, then invest of a bottle of chestnut liqueur. It goes with nearly everything and anything (and it’s pretty damn good on its own, too)!

Chestnut Pear Upside-Down Cake

*recipe by Christine


  • 2 ~ 3 ripe bartlett pears, peeled and cored
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chestnut liqueur
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 cup chestnut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Line the bottom and the sides of a 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper, or grease the inside with butter and sprinkle with white sugar (not flour).

Peel and core the pears. Cut the pears horizontally into 8ths and arrange the slices on the bottom of the pan.

Whisk together the cake flour, chestnut flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Pass the flour mixture through a fine mesh strainer to work out any lumps of chestnut flour. Whisk again, then work through a fine mesh strainer once more. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time.

Stir the yogurt and chestnut liqueur (or my recommended chestnut liqueur substitute) together.

Add the double sifted flour mixture and yogurt mixture to the creamed ingredients in three alternating additions, starting and ending with flour.

Spoon the thick batter into the pan, over the sliced pears, then smooth the top.

Bake for 35 ~ 40 minutes, or until the edges are browned and the top appears dry.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 30 minutes before inverting onto a serving platter. Top with whipped cream and ground cinnamon and dig in!

This won’t be the last time you see me gettin’ all chestnut-crazy up in here — definitely not. Especially not when chestnut flour lends itself to creating an amazingly moist and delicate cake crumb.

Fall is just getting started. Apples and pumpkins and chestnuts — oh my!

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10 thoughts on “Chestnut Pear Upside-Down Cake

  1. Josie says:

    I had that piece of cake and can simply say that it was light and very well matched with the whipped cream!

  2. such a beautiful cake!
    ive never made an upside down cake…seems hard!

    • Christine says:

      Making an upside-down cake is just like making a regular cake — only you either have to get crazy with the non-stick spray, butter + sugar lining, or parchment paper to make sure that the fruit doesn’t stick to the bottom of whatever pan you’re using. The only things to avoid are greasing with butter + flour (because flour will prevent the fruit from oozing tasty juices while baking) and stacking the fruit too thick (whatever fruit you use, each piece needs to be in contact with the batter so that it actually attaches to the cake while baking).

      You can doo eet! 😀

  3. A Tablespoon of Liz says:

    I’ll take fall over summer any day! It’s a little hard at first, but I get over it pretty quickly. And chestnuts liqueur sounds amazing, I’m going to have to look for that!

  4. Meg says:

    I’m not usually one for upside-down cake, but that looks delicious!

  5. daisy says:

    Wow! This looks amazing! I’ve never made anything chestnut. I am definitely adding this to my “to bake” list.

  6. kaliesthoughts says:

    Upside down cake has fruit in it! And I dont like too many fruits 😦 but it looks good and it would be a good dessert in my quest to eat healthier! 😉 Also, can all you people that are experiencing fall right now so some to arizona? still 100+ here 😦

    • Christine says:

      It’s still 100°F in Arizona! I’m jealous! I love hot, dry weather!

      Eating fruit is definitely a good way to be healthy. It’s full of nutrients and good for digestion. 🙂

  7. This looks very light, fluffy, and refreshing. The perfect dessert for an Indian summer.

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