Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread
4 tablespoons plus 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup and 1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Bosc pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup molasses
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/3 cup boiling water
Place a 9" X 9" cake pan over medium heat and melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar and stir just until the sugar melts. Add the pear slices and cook until the pears just begin to soften, 5 minutes.
Preheat an oven to 350°F.
With an electric mixer, cream the remaining 8 tablespoons butter and remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar until light, 3 minutes. Beat in egg and molasses until well mixed, 1 minute. In another bowl, sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Fold the sifted ingredients into creamed mixture with water, just until all ingredients are mixed. Do not overmix.
Spoon batter over pears and bake until springy to the touch, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cake cool 5 minutes and turn the cake carefully onto a serving plate. Cut into 9 squares and serve warm or room temperature.