My mother made the best gingerbread in the world using a recipe she got in 1939. I adapted it to this pear upside down cake and it is so good. If you don't have a cast-iron skillet, it can be made in a regular cake pan...it just won't have the wonderful crispy crust. —mleverette
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, melt 4 tablespoons butter to begin the topping mixture. Stir in brown sugar, molasses and pecans. Evenly layer pears over the sugar mixture.
To make gingerbread, cream butter and sugar and add egg. Add molasses. Stir together dry ingredients and slowly add to molasses mixture. Add hot water and mix well. Pour batter on top of apples.
. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until gingerbread springs back lightly when pressed with a finger. Remove skillet from oven and invert onto a heatproof serving plate. Serve warm or cold. Very good with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.