Vegan Buttermilk Pear Upside Down Cake

Pear Upside Down Cake – Vegan

Searching for a vegan dessert that not only tastes heavenly but also looks stunning on the table? Look no further than this Vegan Buttermilk Pear Upside Down Cake. Rich in flavor, light in texture, and 100% plant-based, this dessert will become your new go-to recipe for special occasions.

Read more: Pear Upside Down Cake – Vegan

Vegan Pear Buttermilk Upside Down Cake

“Mom – Can you make that cake you used to make?” – That was all that I needed to hear! I knew our youngest was talking about the Pear Upside Down Cake. It used to be a “regular” in the fall because we had too many pears in our kitchen all at once. You see, we used to have an orchard – of mostly pears, with some apples, asian pears and a few plums and cherry trees.

close up photo of a green fruit

We started with a few pear trees – because they were easy to grow. We harvested nice firm fruit every September, with very few pest issues and little maintenance. Eventually we added more trees…. and more and more. In the fall, I would be searching for recipes for things to make with pears. Pears in muffins, pear jam, pears in brandy and pear cider (Perry). Eventually we found a recipe for Pear Upside Down Cake from Canadian Living and it became a staple. Our version of the recipe has evolved quite a bit over the years and is now vegan and non-dairy.

Our pear orchard - some newly planted trees

Pears are Underrated

Pears are often underrated in the world of desserts. They are not as tart or sweet as many other fruit – but their flavour has a subtle sweetness with a crisp but delicate texture. Don’t you think that makes them a tad more sophisticated?

Any type of firm fresh pear can be used in this recipe – I never peel them – I slice them however I like to quickly get them in the pan – but if you want to impress your dinner companions – you could slice the pears vertically – and arrange them in spirals for a nice display.

In this cake recipe – the pears are sliced and placed in a warm butterscotch sauce at the bottom of a cake pan. A vegan buttermilk is prepared and mixed with the dry ingredients to make a nice fluffy batter, which is then poured over the pear and butterscotch layer.

The cake is baked – and – when cooled – VOILA – turned upside down to display the pear topping! The subtle pear flavour and butterscotch topping are complemented by the moist crumb of this cake.

How to Make Vegan Pear Buttermilk Upside Down Cake

Don’t worry – there’s a printable recipe card at the bottom of this post!


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Apply non-stick spray to bottom of 9 inch square or round cake tin. Cut a piece of parchment to shape and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. (I typically skip this step and find the cake will still come cleanly out of the pan – but the parchment paper cut meticulously to shape makes for perfection)

Pear Topping:

  • 3 large ripe but firm pears – cored and sliced
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter (I used Becel) or margarine
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Melt the vegan butter and whisk in the brown sugar and lemon juice. Pour in the bottom of prepared pan.

Brown sugar, vegan butter and lemon juice
Brown sugar, vegan butter and lemon juice

Slice the pears (you may peel if you prefer) as prettily as you desire – and then arrange in the pan over the syrup mixture.

The pear slices look the most impressive if they are cored and then cut vertically into similarly sized wedges about 1/4 inch thick – displayed in a spiral in a round pan – or arranged in slightly overlapping rows in a square or rectangular pan. Personally – the cake never lasts long enough in my house for anyone to notice that it’s pretty – and I often try to just use the best pieces of the pears and deal with whichever shapes happen.

Sliced pears - not beautifully arranged!
Sliced pears – not beautifully arranged over butterscotch syrup!

Make the Vegan Buttermilk

“Why do we need buttermilk?” you may ask…. Well, the buttermilk when mixed with the cake batter adds a moistness, helps the cake to bind together – but most importantly – adds a nice fizziness to the batter, that makes the cake a little airier when baked!

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For Vegan Buttermilk – I just mix 1 cup non-dairy milk – with 1 tablespoon vinegar. I used oatmilk for this and regular white vinegar – but you can use your milk of choice. Using apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar – adds a little bit of depth to the flavour if you like. Set aside the vegan buttermilk for about 5 minutes – while you prepare the rest of the cake batter. The buttermilk “magic” occurs as the vinegar causes the milk to curdle.

Vegan Buttermilk
Vegan Buttermilk

Vegan Buttermilk Cake Batter:

For the cake batter you will need the vegan buttermilk, and the following ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup vegan butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix dry ingredients, butter and vanilla
Mix dry ingredients, butter and vanilla

This is the easy part: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients – stir in melted vegan butter and vanilla and then gradually add and stir in vegan buttermilk. Stir until just mixed.

The mixture should have a nice vaguely fizzy look as the buttermilk mixes with the baking powder. Pour the batter over the pear topping in the pan.

Add vegan buttermilk to cake batter
Add vegan buttermilk to cake batter – lovely and fizzy!

Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes in preheated 350 degree oven – or until an inserted toothpick in the centre comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan – AND THEN – carefully and quickly invert the pan over a serving dish – and PRESTO – you have a Vegan Buttermilk Pear Upside Down Cake!

Vegan Buttermilk Pear Upside Down Cake
Vegan Buttermilk Pear Upside Down Cake

I generally cut my cake into little squares and serve with vegan whipped cream. This cake typically disappears as soon as the boys see it – but they always leave a piece for their vegan sister (thankfully). I was happy when our youngest requested I bake this – as it reminds me of fall in the orchard when the kids were smaller – but everyone in the family still loves this cake!

Although there are a few steps and bowls involved with this recipe – it’s not at all difficult to make and uses ingredients that I typically have on hand – and uses up those pears!!

Below is a printable recipe card from RecipesGenerator. Please give it a try!

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24 thoughts on “Pear Upside Down Cake – Vegan

  1. I smiled at this. When I was young, my mother went through a phase of making pineapple upside down cake. We (4 kids) were not a fan of that. We begged her to make a “normal” cake. LOL Yours with pears looks delicious.

    1. Now that I think of it – when I was young, I always avoided that pineapple upside down cake? I don’t remember why – it seems yummy now.

      1. Maybe because we were eating a delicious cake and suddenly there was fruit at the bottom and the dreaded cherries. LOL. I’ve never liked those cherries in the jar, the ones they put in cocktails.

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