Many a gingerbread has baked in a cast iron skillet, dating back to a time when cakes for iron Dutch ovens over an open fire or a oven fueled by wood. This recipe reunites the iron pan and gingerbread in a modern way, with the inclusion of pears and pear preserves. It’s a perfect combo! I have learned that while molasses is most often used in baking gingerbread, you can substitute the milder sorghum if you have it. Both are acidic ingredients that react with the baking soda to help the cake rise. Cast-Iron Skillet Recipe.
Gingerbread made with cast iron skillet
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided use
½ cup pear preserves
3 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 slices each, plus an extra pear for slicing as garnish
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup molasses
½ cup milk or orange juice
¼ cup brandy, pear brandy, or coffee
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional)
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir the pear preserves into the melted butter. Arrange the 24 pear slices across the bottom of the pan.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
4. In a large bowl, beat the remaining ½ cup butter with a wooden spoon or electric mixer on medium speed until creamy. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Fold in the flour mixture, along with the milk, brandy, eggs, and lemon zest (if using). Beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour the batter over the pears.
5. Place in the oven and bake until the top springs back when lightly pressed, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven. Spoon the hot cake into bowls and top with vanilla ice cream.