1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. To prepare the topping: In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir in brown sugar and ginger. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour caramel into a 9-inch ungreased cake pan, spreading with a spatula.
3. Arrange the pears in concentric circles on top of caramel. Sprinkle with cranberries and set aside.
4. To prepare the cake: Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, ginger and nutmeg. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream almond paste, butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 to 5 minutes. (A well-beaten mixture will help make the cake lighter.) Add eggs, one at a time, beating a minute after each addition. Beat in almond and vanilla extracts. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
5. On low speed, add dry ingredients alternately with the milk just until incorporated. Don't overmix at this stage. Spread batter evenly over topping.
6. Bake on center oven rack 45 to 50 minutes, or until top springs back when lightly touched. (If top of the cake becomes too brown, cover loosely with aluminum foil.) Let cool on a rack 5 minutes. Run a small knife around the edge of the cake to release it. Place a round, flat serving plate over the pan and invert it. Slowly lift off cake pan. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving with whipped cream.
Adapted from Caramel: Recipes for Deliciously Gooey Desserts by Peggy Cullen