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Cinnamon Pear Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake For Share Our Strength

Gluten Free Cinnamon Pear Cornmeal Cake

This post is linked to A Gluten Free Holiday: Desserts!

When my children woke up hungry for breakfast this morning, I mindlessly plodded over to my refrigerator in my comfortable slippers and cozy pajamas. I perused my shelves stocked high with food and shuffled things around. My mind was wandering to what my to-do’s entailed for the day, not to what was about to go in my children’s mouths.  I mumbled to myself about how over-full my refrigerator was.  I made a mental note to organize it. I reminded myself to toss the steak from a few nights before. Yes. Throw it away.

I pulled out a carton of farm-fresh eggs that we had just picked up the day before at the Farmer’s Market. I grabbed some green onions. I rescued the leftover vegetables from the night before, already pushed to the back, quickly about to be forgotten.

From the counter, I grabbed some beautifully ripened pears and a couple of my Gluten Free “Bran” Muffins that I had baked the night before.

But as I think back to when I placed that plate piled with nutrients in front of them, I realize that in that harried moment of trying to get everyone ready and off to school, I did not mark with gratefulness how truly blessed my children are to begin their day with such sustaining food.

This morning, in that moment, we did not take the time to acknowledge those 1 in 6 American children who will worry today about where their next meal will come from.  We did not recognize the more than 12 million children who did not start their day off with that nutritionally sound and ever-so-important meal of the day.  We did not acknowledge the children that do not know the comforts that my children have, that your children have – the warm homes in the dead of winter, the hot meals that fuel growling stomachs, the new jackets and the coolest shoes that get replaced as fast growing arms and feet outgrow them.

This morning, instead, I was wondering how I was going to get my three year old to finish his breakfast in time to get him dressed. I was busy convincing my six year old to take “Just one more bite” – that same bite that way too many children would give anything for.

And now, I feel sheepish as I type this.  Here I am asking you to work with myself and the more than 50 other food bloggers participating in a first ever virtual 7 course Progressive Dinner Party called “Share Our Holiday Table” to help those very children that I was too busy (with my own comfortable life) to think about this morning.

But this Food Blogging event is trying to change that. It is trying to bring this issue into the forefronts of our minds. It is an effort to get us all to think about these children on a regular basis. We all have the same purpose – to leave NO KID HUNGRY!!  We are all coming together to bring you amazing holiday menus to help increase awareness and to make a change in childhood hunger in the United States.

Share Our Holiday Table

You can help us by contributing to the Share Our Strength’s “No Kid Hungry Campaign”. It does not matter how big or small a contribution. Every dollar can help to feed a child.  I know that I have already made our family’s contribution and taken a pledge to not let my family forget those children. Our family has done it prior to this and we will continue to do so.  You can do the same.  If you know where your next meal is coming from, then go ahead and click here: NO KID HUNGRY.  Whatever you can contribute can help to make a difference.

So today, I will share with you the Gluten-Free Dessert course of this amazing Virtual Progressive Dinner Party.  My Cinnamon Pear Upside Down Cornmeal Cake is one of my favorite desserts (I know the name is a mouthful).  It comes together so quickly and, before you know it, you have a dessert worthy of the most impressive of dinner parties.

I will not go on and on about the pleasures of this cake.  Just make it. You will truly enjoy it. I promise you.  It is not overly sweet. It is just right. Perfect, really.

Cinnamon Pear Cornmeal Cake

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Pear Upside Down Cornmeal Cake

(easily adaptable to be Dairy-Free or Egg-Free)


2 ripe Pears – peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

1/3 cup Brown Sugar, packed

4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter (For Dairy-Free: use 4 Tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Stick)

¾ cup Yellow Cornmeal, preferably organic

¾ cup Almond Flour, such as Honeyville or Digestive Wellness

¾ cup Granulated Sugar

¾ tsp Baking Powder, gluten-free and aluminum free

¾ tsp Baking Soda

1/8 tsp Sea Salt, fine

1 ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon

½ cup Plain Yogurt (Dairy OR Dairy-free)

2 tsp Lemon Juice

2 Large Eggs (For Egg-Free: use 6 Tablespoons HOT water mixed with 2 Tablespoons Flax Meal and allow to sit for 10 minutes until gelled)

¼ cup Unsulphured Molasses

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

2 Tbsp Organic Canola Oil, OR Coconut Oil (measured in liquid form)


1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease sides of a heavy 9 inch cake pan. In the bottom of the pan, place butter slices and brown sugar evenly over the bottom.  Put pan in oven and watch until the butter and brown sugar start to bubble – about 5 – 7 minutes.  Remove pan and arrange pear slices in a circular pattern around the bottom of the pan, turning each slice once to coat in sugar mixture.  Be careful – pan is hot.

2.  In large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, almond flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and cinnamon until mixture seems light in weight.

3.  In small bowl, mix together plain yogurt and lemon juice.  Let sit 5 minutes to sour.  Then, in a medium bowl, whisk eggs by hand until gently beaten and foamy, then add yogurt/lemon juice mixture, molasses, vanilla, and oil.  Whisk until well blended.

4.  Slowly add wet ingredients into dry and then fold in until well-blended and incorporated. Carefully pour batter into cake pan, trying to not disrupt the pear design. Gently spread with back of spoon.

5.  Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched in center and tooth pick comes out clean.  After 5 minutes, run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan. Invert onto serving plate.  Hint: if you are not Dairy Sensitive, this is absolutely amazing served with a drizzle of Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce. This is also wonderful served with your favorite Dairy or Dairy-Free Vanilla or Cinnamon ice cream.

Cinnamon Vanilla Upside Down Pear Cake

The other bloggers that are participating in today’s Dessert Course are below. And for the entire menu and all the participating bloggers, go to the Share Our Holiday Table main page.


Family Friendly


Gluten Free

  1. On December 13, 2010 Lexie said

    Thank you for what you shared. My thoughts exactly. Speaking of “thoughts” … how is it that we are so often on the same wave-length. Kind of scary! I did an upside down pear cake thingy last week. We must have similar cravings 🙂 Has all settled down?


    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Lexie, I have thought many times that is so funny how often we are on the same wavelength. I hope you will be posting your “upside down pear cake thingy” recipe soon. 😉 And yes, all has settled down now.


  2. On December 14, 2010 Sophie said

    Waw, my friend! This upside down pear gf cake surely rocks!! Looks truly appetizing & lovely at the same time!

    Your recipes never fail me & are always apart & tasty!

    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi Sophie! Thanks so much!! I am so glad to hear that my recipes never fail you! Hope you are well! 😉

  3. On December 14, 2010 Jenn said

    Wonderful post and beautiful upside down cake – I love that this is such an easy combination of ingredients, and it sounds perfect for the holidays. Thanks so much for sharing, I’m so happy to be able to participate in this event with you.

    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi Jenn. Thanks so much. This cake is so simple to put together-takes no time at all. I am honored to participate in this event with you!!

  4. On December 14, 2010 Nancy said

    Kim – so true. We have much to be thankful for and the ability to share some of it with those less fortunate. Particularly less fortunate children…who do not have the ability to change it for themselves. I loved your sentiment. And, the cake. It looks simply yummy!

    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi Nancy! I am so glad that you share my sentiment. I was not sure how the post would go over, actually, since I was being very honest. I am glad that you liked it. xo k

  5. On December 14, 2010 Stephanie O'Dea said

    Holy toledo, that is BEAUTIFUL! wow!
    what a fantastic recipe, Kim. I look forward to testing it out in my own kitchen.


  6. On December 14, 2010 sea said

    Oh yum! I don’t care for pears but I bet apple or persimmon would sub well. Love the base cake recipe. Great post!

    Have a wonderful day.

    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Sea, I actually normally make this cake with apples, but for some reason the over-ripe pears on my counter were calling my name. So yes, the apples are actually perfect in this. 😉

  7. On December 14, 2010 Maggie said

    You’re so right Kim. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for some Moms. It breaks my heart when I stop to think about it. Your pear cake sounds and looks delish!

    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Maggie, when I think about what it must be like for a parent that is unable to feed their child, it literally makes me want to cry. Nothing makes me happier than to watch my children enjoy their nutritious meals. I cannot imagine the feeling of not being able to provide that for them.
      Thanks for the sweet words about my cake, btw! 😉

  8. On December 14, 2010 Jillian said

    This recipe sounds great! I’m allergic to corn. Would almond meal be an acceptable substitute?

    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi Jillian. This upside down cake is actually delicious with all almond meal and no cornmeal. I have made it that way quite a few times but when I do, I also add an extra egg since almond meal is a little heavier and seems to do better with the extra egg.

  9. On December 14, 2010 Jeanette said

    This cake looks delicious, love the pears on top, and the deep rich color. Thank you for sharing this recipe in support of such a wonderful cause.

    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi jeanette! Thank you so much for your sweet words about this cake. The deep rich color is one of my favorite parts about this cake! 😉

  10. On December 14, 2010 Carol Peterman said

    In the busy of life is easy to just focus on getting things done and trying to stay on schedule without remembering how others live. Hopefully the No Kid Hungry campaign will increase awareness to the point where there will no longer be people going without food. Your cake looks so good. I love cornmeal cakes.

    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi Carol. It is so very easy to get caught up in our lives and forget how wonderful we may have it. This is a great cause and I hope that it does make us remember just a little bit more about those who are really struggling, especially during this time of year.

  11. On December 14, 2010 Celiacs in the House said

    Lovely job, Kim. With all that’s been going on, you still managed to write beautifully,create a wonderful dessert, and get a great shot(or two). Inspiring. If I hadn’t already donated generously, I would feel moved to do so right now.

    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Wendy, I actually had the post written the day before my sister went into labor. I had planned on hanging with her around the time that the post was going up so just wanted to make sure it was done ahead of time. Now I am so very very grateful that for once in my life I did not procrastinate. I would not have ever gotten it done, and if I had, it probably would have had a different tone. And thank you. 😉

  12. On December 14, 2010 Zoe said

    This is humbling, Kim. This is also a reminder why it’s so important to remember to be grateful, to give thanks everyday for what we already have – not just reserve it for Thanksgiving. I’d love to try making this cake – just one question: is it cornmeal or corn flour? Just a bit confused with the two words together there. My brother is sensitive to corn, but I’d try making it somehow anyway. I might even throw in some cardamom. 😉

    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Zoe, you are so right that we need to remember to give thanks all of the time, not just the holidays!
      And, I updated the recipe, with all that has been going on lately, I must have accidentally added the flour onto the cornmeal ingredient. It is just cornmeal, not cornmeal flour. LOL
      Cardamom would be an awesome addition to this and you can make this with all almond flour instead (I would maybe add an extra egg though-but totally not necessary).

  13. On December 14, 2010 Tia said

    A lovely post, Kim. I, too, am amazed at how you do it with all going on, but I guess you just do. So happy to be participating in such a wonderful event with such great people/friends. Oh, and your dessert looks wonderful. I think it is going on my make list. I like desserts made with almond flour and less of the white flours. Love and hugs still flowing.

    Tia 😛

    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Tia, I just mentioned this to Wendy, but I had this post done the week before it was actually due to go up (yes, for once I did NOT procrastinate). Thank goodness. This cake is super easy to make and it is not overly sweet or too unhealthy! 😉 And thanks for all of those hugs and love. It means so much.
      k 😉

  14. On December 14, 2010 Daydreamer Desserts said

    My favorite desserts to make are those which don’t take too much time… i.e. upside down cakes, although I’ve made several of these, none have been made with cornmeal. So, I think I might have to rectify that. 🙂

    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi Daydreamer Desserts! This cake is perfect because it takes very little time to put together, but it is just different enough from a regular upside down cake to have an elegant flair to it! 😉

  15. On December 14, 2010 nicola @ gfreemom said

    Thanks for making us stop and think. I’m forever trying to tell my kids how lucky they are to have so much delicious food and I regularly do the ‘don’t you know there are children out there who have nothing to eat’ conversation when I’m trying to persuade them to eat up. Thinking of reading your post to my 7 year old tomorrow. Think it will impress. xo

    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Nicola, I so pull that “don’t you know there are starving children who would give anything for this meal” all of the time. And I am always trying to remind them of how blessed they are. But sometimes, it just gets too easy to get caught up in my own life. This is a perfect time to work on rectifying that.

  16. On December 15, 2010 InTolerantChef said

    I love the molassas, but it’s easier to get treacle here, do you think it would make much difference?

    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi Intolerant chef! The molasses does not impart a huge flavor here, so I think the treacle in it’s place would not make a big difference at all.

  17. On December 15, 2010 Shirley @ gfe said

    Beautifully written post, Kim–thank you so much for it! We can’t have enough reminders to count our blessings.

    Holy moly on that cake! It is stunning and has such simple ingredients. Definitely going on my “to make” list! I’ve long had a fondness for cornmeal cakes. I even make a cornmeal pound cake. 🙂

    Sorry I didn’t get here sooner. Having lots of ISP issues at the moment. So happy to be a part of this awesome event with you and so many others. I sure hope we make a huge difference!


    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Shirley, you do not ever have to apologize for not getting here sooner. LOL And I was actually relieved to see that you are a little bit off kilter on your series. It makes me feel less behind on that. I like to stay caught up with you since you always have such fun going on over at GFE!
      And that cornmeal pound cake of yours sounds amazing!!!

  18. On December 15, 2010 carrie @ gingerlemon said

    This is so important Kim! This post is such a great reminder of what we need to be thankful for! I wish I had known about this event earlier so I could have planned to participate. I think what i will do though, is make an extra stop by the grocery stone this month and donate to our local food pantry. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Carrie, I think that is a wonderful idea to stop by your local grocery store and donate to the food pantry. Glad this post could help inspire you! xoxo Hugs!!

  19. On December 15, 2010 Alisa Fleming said

    What a great cause, and what a fabulous dessert Kim! It is so great to see the way everyone is coming togethr!

    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Alisa, thanks, my friend! I love this dessert just because of how easy it is to make. xoxo 😉

  20. On December 15, 2010 Stephanie -Wasabimon said

    Hey this looks so freaking good that I might just make it TODAY. Thanks!!

    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hey Stephanie! Thanks so much! Hope you like it if you get around to making it! 😉

  21. On December 15, 2010 Gluten Free Diva said

    Kim – what a lovely dessert, and so easy to make. Your writing is just beautiful. I like the fact that you really paid attention to the thoughts in your head as you started your day. If more of us, myself included, realized the self-talk gyrations we go through, perhaps we might stop and take stock more often, and count our blessings!

    • On December 17, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Ellen, thank you for the kind words about my writing. Lately, I have been really trying to focus on the thoughts in my mind. Sometimes, I just really cannot believe how much chatter happens in there! LOL But it does make me be more mindful in my day. Hope you are doing well! xoxo

  22. On February 8, 2011 Bev said

    this looks truly scrumptious! My pear and cinnamon loving son will love this, I have bookmarked this for future eating! Great recipe!

  23. On December 6, 2011 Karen said

    looks amazing. i’m making it this weekend.

  24. On March 8, 2012 Ari @ The Frugally R said

    This is so good! I made it tonight! I loved it! And I thought I would let you know what substitutions I made so others could know too. I used a square pan instead a cake pan. I used 1/3 c. coconut sugar and 4 T. (1/4 c). coconut oil that I melted both together in the microwave…careful, it can burn fast. Then I made the rest as it says except I used a mix of ideal brown sugar (which is mostly xylitol) and coconut sugar for the “granulated sugar” and I only used 1/2 c. instead of 3/4. I also used 1/2 c. homemade coconut milk mixed with lemon juice instead of yogurt and omitted the extra oil since it was runnier batter b/c of the milk. It is soooooo good! I had to cook a little longer but it is very very good and I enjoyed by my roomates and friends who are not gluten-free!

    • On March 13, 2012 Kim-Cook It Allergy Free said

      Ari, I LOVE all of your substitutions!! And I am so thrilled that you came back and let us all know about how it turned out for you! I use coconut sugar all of the time now and am so happy to know you liked it in this recipe as well. You are awesome for coming back and telling us about your success with this one! Thanks!! So glad your non-gf room mates and friends liked it too! 🙂

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