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Pear Cake

This pear cake is an homage to all the tastes that my family loves. It’s a sweet honey cake with wine-soaked poached pears, sliced almonds, and a love of baking that has been passed down through the generations.

Pear Cake
I grew up eating rustic, unfrosted cakes that got their flavor from fruit and nuts – think apple cake with fresh apples on top, banana cake (which I now make as banana cupcakes), and walnut sour cream coffee cake. We had an ever-present honey jar and Dad would sometimes forgo cake entirely for toasted nuts drenched in honey. While we never had this particular pear cake, it tastes like home.

How to Make Pear Cake

This cake uses fresh pears that stand up tall and are revealed in full when the cake is sliced open. There are some tricks to making this work.

Keeping Pears from Falling Over

Naturally, the pears would fall onto their sides during the bake.

To keep the pears from falling over, slice off the bottoms of the pears to make a flat surface.

Slicing Pear

It’s OK if they lean a little, but the pears look best when they are standing tall and proud.

Remove the Seeds from Pears

You will also want to use a melon baller to scoop out the seeds from the bottom of the pear. No one wants to bite into seeds with their delicious cake.

Deseeding Pear

How to Poach Pears

The pear cake is made extra good, by poaching the pears is wine before baking. Poaching simply means to boil in a liquid.

To poach the pears:

  • Make sure to use a pot big enough lay the three pears you are using on their sides.
  • Add the poaching liquid, sugar, and spices. Boil for five minutes and then reduce to a simmer. I like to use red wine and spices as it gives the the pears a lovely red tint and a wonderful fall flavor. If you don’t want to use wine, you can also poach pears in juice.
  • Place pears on their sides in the saucepan and cover for five minutes.
  • Flip them, cover, and simmer for another five minutes.
  • Flip back, cover, and simmer for another five minutes.
  • Flip a final time, remove the saucepan from the heat, and keep pears covered until ready to use, at least five minutes. You’ll know that they are done because a fork can easily go into the pear without applying much pressure. You don’t want the pears to be so soft that they are falling apart.

It’s totally OK to drink the poaching wine after you’ve used it to poach the pears. It’s your special treat for doing all of the baking!

Troubleshooting

Pear dunked in flour

After much trial and error (way too many soggy cakes!), I learned that the best way to keep the poached pears from making the bottom of the cake soggy is to dip the bottoms of the pears in flour before setting them into the cake batter.

How to Know When the Pear Cake is Done

Testing cake

The baking time for this cake will vary greatly depending on how much moisture is in your pears and how hot they are when you put them into the batter.

To test for doneness, dip a cake tester into the center of the cake near the middle pear. If the cake tester comes out clean, the cake is done.

If it isn’t clean and the edges of the cake are starting to burn, simply cover them with foil before returning the cake to the oven.

Which Pears are Best for Pear Cake?

I use Bosc pears for my pear cake because they hold their shape and texture after poaching and baking.

In this recipe, where the pear is both poached and baked, use firm pears with nice long stems. The firmness will keep them from falling apart and the stems will look pretty when they stick out of the cake.

Bosc Pears

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Pear Cake
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5 from 11 votes

Pear Cake

Poaching pears might seem like a lot of work, but the flavor it adds is out of this world.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword pear cake, poached pears
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 9 servings
Calories 428kcal
Author Stef

Ingredients

Poached Pear Ingredients

  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 whole star anise
  • Peel of one lemon in large strips
  • 3 Bosc pears choose firm pears with sturdy, large stems

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1/2 cup extra for prepping poached pears
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 large large eggs
  • 2/3 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • Powdered sugar to taste

Instructions

Poached Pear Instructions

  • Add wine, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise, and lemon peel to a saucepan wide enough to hold three pears on their sides. Give a quick stir and bring to a boil on high heat.
  • Reduce to a simmer for five minutes.
  • Peel pears and slice off the bottoms of the pears to create flat surfaces, allowing the pears to stand upright.
  • Use a melon baller to scoop out the seeds from the bottoms of the pears.
  • Place pears on their sides in the saucepan and cover for five minutes.
  • Flip them, cover, and simmer for another five minutes.
  • Flip back, cover, and simmer for another five minutes.
  • Flip a final time, remove the saucepan from the heat, and keep pears covered until ready to use, at least five minutes. If you work on the cake batter while you are making the pears, the batter should be done about the same time as the pears.

Cake Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Mix in honey and butter until fully combined.
  • In a separate small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract.
  • Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.
  • Line a 9" x 5" loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving a little bit of overhang to help you easily pull the cake out of the pan when it is done.
  • Pour batter into the parchment-lined pan.
  • Place the 1/2 cup of extra flour into a small bowl.
  • Use tongs to remove the hot poached pears from the poaching liquid.
  • One at a time, dunk the bottoms of the poached pears into the flour bowl, letting the flour come just a little bit up the side of the pear. Insert the floured pears into the cake batter, standing them up with their stems sticking out the batter.
  • Sprinkle sliced almonds over the top of the batter.
  • Bake for 40 minutes. Use a long wooden skewer or cake tester to test for doneness at the center of the cake near the middle pear. This area takes the longest to cook. Depending on how hot, moist, and large the pears are, the cook time can vary. If the batter is still raw (skewer came out wet), cover the edges of the cake in foil to prevent burning and continue to bake for another ten minutes before testing again. Repeat in ten minute increments until the cake is done.
  • Use overhanging parchment to lift cake out of the pan and onto a cooling rack.
  • Cool for at least one hour and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Video

Notes

Store the cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Pear Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 428 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Cholesterol 50mg17%
Sodium 223mg9%
Potassium 245mg7%
Carbohydrates 61g20%
Fiber 3g12%
Sugar 40g44%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 180IU4%
Vitamin C 2.9mg4%
Calcium 88mg9%
Iron 1.9mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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7 comments on “Pear Cake”

  1. Annasays:

    5 stars
    I am a huge fan of rustic cakes! This pear beauty is delicious!

  2. Sabrinasays:

    5 stars
    This looks amazing! Such a great cake to serve with after dinner coffee when company is over this holiday season.

  3. Kimsays:

    5 stars
    WOW! I had no idea you could do this with a whole pear.. well a whole looking pear! Looks amazing!

  4. Laurensays:

    5 stars
    I absolutely love pears and I can’t wait to make this! So beautiful!

  5. Jennifersays:

    5 stars
    I love this pear cake!

  6. Tamisays:

    What can you use instead of almond flour? Nut allergies over here :(
    Thank you

  7. Marjasays:

    5 stars
    Hi,
    This cake looks amazing! I love this kind of cakes with fruit inside. I’ll make this one in a short period from now, for sure! I love cakes that taste homemade, they’re much much better than the store bought ones. Thanks for the recipe, but since i live in the Netherlands….we don’t have those oil sticks. But i’ll use oil in the same ammount as your sticks. It makes the cake super moist!
    Have a fantastic Sunday and till next time.
    Sincerly,
    Marja

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