(from Jennie Schact's cookbook, see above)
She claims that this serves 8-10, but see, it's not really a dessert-cake and is likely to disappear rapidly and at all hours a la, well, cake. But it's good for you! Molasses is full of iron (and manganese, apparently)! Also, I left out the 3 ingredients that are supposed to get sprinkled on top of the pears before baking b/c they were on the back of the page so I didn't see them at the time...no unpleasant side effects were observed.
the recipe, finally:
2.5 c AP flour (I replaced almost a cup with whole wheat flour)
1.5 t ground ginger
1 t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground allspice
1/4 t ground cloves
3/4 c canola oil
1/2 c "gently" packed brown sugar
1/2 c unsulfured molasses
1/2 c plain yogurt or sour cream (I ended up using a bit of buttermilk to round out the half cup)
1 T finely grated fresh ginger
1 t baking soda (not "baking sofa", as I originally typed)
1/2 c hot strong coffee
turn the cookbook page over to see:
1 T butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 t salt
Preheat oven to 325, oil a 10 or 11 in cast iron skillet. (Yes, okay, you could make this in a springform pan or even a 10 inch cake pan, but then it wouldn't be skillet cake, would it?)
Stir together flour, salt and spices (minus fresh ginger).
Whisk together egg, oil, brown sugar, molasses, yogurt, fresh ginger, and any other wet-ish ingredients I left out of that list until smooth. Stir in half of the flour. Mix baking soda/sofa into the coffee, then add that to the batter. Stir in remaining flour. Pour/glop into skillet and smooth top. Slice a few pears on top, arranging artfully (or scientifically). Then either do what Ms. Schact intended and sprinkle remaining butter/sugar/salt on top, or do what I did and just put the thing straight in the oven. Bake for about an hour, or until the top springs back when you poke it and it passes the toothpick test. Let cool for at least 20 minutes. No need to unmold it-- serve straight out of the skillet. I would have a picture of a slice or something if I hadn't been too busy stuffing my face. You know how it is. I only got the picture below b/c it was waaayyy to hot to be eating it yet.
A note on the spices: for heaven's sake don't be stingy. I know it says 1 t of cinnamon, but it's competing with molasses and Ms. Schact is a self-professed disliker of cloves, so you can double up all of those without much worry.