Pear and Thandai Upside Down Olive Oil Cake

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The blog post, below is sponsored by B.R. Cohn Winery. All opinions expressed are my own.

Published on November 12, 2018, revised on November 20, 2023.

November marks the beginning of a lot of things – festivities, holiday season, warm spices, cooler weather in the Bay Area, parties, gatherings, baking – lots of baking! 🙂 My favorite way to spend time in the kitchen is to bake. I love to bake with warm winter spices, and winter fruits like pears, persimmons, apples, and oranges.

Orange really brightens up the flavor of any bake and gives it a wonderful aroma as well. I love to bake with pears in this season. Pears are an underrated fruit I feel, and they deserve more attention than they get! Pears add the perfect sweetness, and when paired with a citrus and spices, it really elevates the flavor of the bake.


Pear and Thandai Upside Down Olive Oil Cake


Pear and Thandai Upside Down Olive Oil Cake


I am really excited to partner with B.R. Cohn Winery, to bring to you a super moist and delicious Pear and Thandai Olive Oil Upside Down Cake! It combines the flavors from my heritage, along with the seasonal local produce of California, like pears and this beautiful olive oil from B.R. Cohn.

The organic olive oil has subtle aromas of white pepper and sweet grass with floral undertones. It is medium-bodied with grassy notes, fresh olive fruit and a slight pepper finish. It is crafted from organically farmed olives that are grown, harvested and pressed in California under the strictest conditions.


If you’re not already familiar, B.R. Cohn Winery and Olive Oil Company is located in Glen Ellen, 10 minutes outside of the town of Sonoma, just one hour north of San Francisco. It was founded by Bruce Cohn, longtime manager of rock-n-roll legends, The Doobie Brothers. The winery opened its doors in 1984 and ever since, the quality of the wines has been a direct reflection of the quality of its vineyards.

Notable amongst their vineyards is the Olive Hill Estate, named for the nearly five hundred 160-year old olive trees on the estate, which date back to the 1800’s! In fact, B.R. Cohn Olive Oil Company helped launch the California olive oil renaissance when its estate olive oil was first pressed in 1990.



Thandai was my favorite drink growing up! What is Thandai? Thandai aka Thand means cold in Hindi. Thandai is a spiced boozy cold milk drink served during the Holi festival in India signifying the onset of Spring. It is made with a ton of nuts and spices steeped in warm milk and is served cold. My mom would make this drink for us as kids without the booze of course, and it is my absolute favorite drink to date!

The powder is made with almonds, cashews, pistachios, spices like star anise, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, poppy seeds, cloves, black pepper and dried rose petals. This powder is then steeped in milk for about 10-15 minutes with saffron and sugar. Once steeped, it is left to cool in the fridge, and strained before serving cold to get this luxurious, rich, delicious, spiced milk which is simply amazing!

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To make this cake, I poach the pears in a sugar water, along with cardamom pods, star anise and saffron. It gets a slight orangish hue from the saffron and the pears get a lovely fragrance. When poaching pears, ensure that the pears are firm, yet ever so slightly ripe. This ensures that once the pears are poached, they will not turn into mush. Poaching pears gives the pear a lovely color and flavor, and makes them slightly soft yet with a bite.

Pear and Thandai Upside Down Olive Oil Cake


Poached pears taste delicious with a dollop of whipped cream for a light dessert, or with greek yogurt and some granola for a healthish breakfast. Poached pears are fantastic with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, with a light drizzle of balsamic as well, to give it that elegant and sophisticated touch.

Pear and Thandai Upside Down Olive Oil Cake


Ingredients for poaching pears:

The ingredients for poaching pears are:

  • Granulated sugar
  • Water
  • Spices like green cardamom, lightly crushed
  • Star Anise
  • Saffron

Pear and Thandai Upside Down Olive Oil Cake


Cranberry Coulis:

Cranberry Coulis. Is it even required in this recipe? Maybe not. The cake is great by itself with whipped cream. But I love a dramatic effort to a cake. I love the flavors of this coulis. Cranberries, oranges, orange zest and sugar – make up this beautiful and flavorful coulis. It adds a tang to the subtle flavors of the cake, and sort of brings the cake to life. I love a bite of the cake, with the coulis, whipped cream and pistachios.

Pear and Thandai Upside Down Olive Oil Cake

Pear and Thandai Upside Down Olive Oil Cake:

I use the 9 inch cake pan to make this cake, and the pre-cut cake liner parchment papers which are a savior!

Ingredients of the cake:

The ingredients of the cake are:

  • All purpose flour
  • Almond flour
  • baking powder and baking soda
  • Thandai Masala which gives it a hell lot of flavor.
  • Olive oil – which provides moistness to the cake
  • Granulated sugar
  • Whole milk – which also adds moistness to the cake
  • Brandy – after all it is the holidays!
  • orange zest – it is a must and brightens up the flavor of the overall cake.

The cake is very simple and does not even require a stand mixer. It simply requires a couple of bowls, and a big whisk. The dry ingredients are mixed with the wet ingredients, and then poured into a 9-inch cake pan, layered with cooled poached pear slices.

The cake turns out so moist, citrusy, fruity, wintery, it has all the holiday flavors and is super flavorful! Served with whipped cream, some chopped pistachios and cranberry coulis, this cake is absolutely wonderful to serve for any holiday gatherings. I could not stop at one slice!

Pear and Thandai Upside Down Olive Oil Cake

You must try this recipe, and if you do, do not forget to tag #thejamlab on Instagram and/or leave a comment on the blog post below 🙂 B.R. Cohn’s Olive Hill Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil is produced in very limited quantities and is only available at B.R. Cohn Winery, or online on their website.


Pear and Thandai Upside Down Olive Oil Cake

Here’s to more holiday recipes coming your way. For anyone in the Bay Area or visiting, I hope you will keep B.R. Cohn in mind!






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