Pear and Thandai Upside Down Olive Oil Cake

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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Saturday, November 3RD marked B.R. Cohn’s third annual Sonoma Extra Virgin Festival. The festival celebrated all things olive: award-winning olive tastings, live cooking demonstrations, live music, B.R. Cohn’s wine and more. Although I wasn’t able to make the festival, I was inspired to make a recipe highlighting the flavors of the season, along with their award-winning olive oil.

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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 are so fragrant. 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 10-inch springform 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!

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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.


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!





Pear and Thandai Upside Down Olive Oil Cake


  • Thandai Powder:
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup pistachios
  • 1/3 cup cashew nuts
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • seeds from 7-8 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 2 tbsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp anise seeds
  • 10 dried roses
  • 1 tsp nutmeg powder
  • Saffron Poached Pears:
  • 3 firm pears, peeled
  • 3 cups water
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 5-6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed with a mortar and pestle
  • 3-4 star anise
  • 1 tsp saffron threads
  • Pear and Thandai Olive Oil Upside Down Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup olive oil (For this particular recipe, I used B.R. Cohn’s Organic California Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup thandai powder
  • 2 tbsp orange zest
  • 1/4 cup Brandy
  • Cranberry Coulis:
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp orange zest
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • Garnish:
  • Freshly whipped cream
  • Pistachios
  • Cranberry Coulis


  1. Thandai powder:
  2. In a coffee grinder, or a high speed blender, add all the ingredients and blend till it is in a fine powder form. It takes about 2 minutes to get to the powder form. Pulsing helps towards the last 30 seconds to mix it all together.
  3. Saffron Poached Pears:
  4. In a medium saucepan, on high heat, add the water, sugar, saffron, cardamom, star anise, and let it come to a boil. Add in the pears at this point and bring the heat to a simmer. Let it cook for about 6 minutes in total, making sure all sides are evenly cooked.
  5. Gently remove the pears with a slotted spoon, onto a plate. Put it in the fridge to cool down and stop the cooking process. When ready to use in the cake, slice each pear in half. Core the center of the pear and remove it. Invert flat side down and slice it in to thin slices such as the cake can have layers at the bottom of the pan.
  6. Cranberry Coulis:
  7. In a small saucepan, combine the cranberries, orange zest, orange juice and sugar. On medium heat, let it come to a boil. Then let it simmer for 10 minutes until the cranberries have all popped. Use a masher to mash all the cranberries into a mush. Remove it off the stove. Strain the mixture through a sieve, to discard the solids into a small bowl. Let the mixture cool in the fridge.
  8. Pear and Thandai Olive Oil Upside Down Cake:
  9. Heat the oven to 350° F. Spray a 10-inch springform cake pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  10. In a bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, thandai powder, baking soda and powder. In another bowl, whisk vigorously the olive oil, milk, eggs, orange zest and brandy well enough such that it is well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients; whisk until just combined.
  11. Layer the cooled poached pear slices neatly at the bottom of the pan. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 ½ hours, until the top is golden, and a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely for 2 hours.
  12. To Serve:
  13. Drizzle cranberry coulis in a circular pattern, onto a small plate. Layer with a slice of the cake. Put a dollop of whipped cream, and garnish with chopped pistachios. Serve!
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