Preheat oven to 350°. Soften 1 stick butter and melt 1 stick butter.
Grease a 9-inch round metal cake pan, line with circle of parchment paper to fit bottom and grease again. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon granulated sugar over pan. Shake to coat bottom and sides evenly and toss out any excess.
Cut pears into thin, even slices lengthwise, about ¼ inch thick.
In a bowl, whisk together melted butter with ½ cup brown sugar. Pour into bottom of prepared cake pan. Starting at the outside and working towards the center, layer pears to overlap slightly in a spiral until brown sugar mixture is covered.
In a medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, cream remaining stick of butter and ¾ cup brown sugar together at a medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping bowl between additions. Add vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients all at once and mix together on low speed until almost incorporated. Add buttermilk and mix until everything is well combined but be careful not to over mix.
Gently spoon batter over pears, smoothing batter with a small spatula. Stud with cranberries, pressing down to submerge them in cake batter.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until cake springs back when you touch it. Cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to release the cake from the sides. Place a platter over the cake and flip to unmold. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe by Melissa Denmark, Pastry Chef, Ellie’s Bakery, Providence