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.
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 crumb 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.
Using Country Crock® Baking Sticks to make this pear cake made it super easy. As their name implies, they come in stick format (salted and unsalted).
Baking Sticks can be used just like butter – a one-for-one substitution in recipes. I love how you can pull the sticks straight out of the fridge and use them – no softening needed.
Country Crock® Baking Sticks are made with sunflower oil and are great to use when you want your baked goods to be extra moist.
I’ve been told they are wonderful for chewy cookies (I’m itching to try that!).
I have tried them in pumpkin muffins and I can tell you they were some of the best muffins I’ve ever had. They were deliciously moist, which is great because I hate a dry muffin.
This pear cake is also very moist and I love knowing that the Baking Sticks have 45% less saturated fat than butter.
I also love them in my lemon ricotta cupcakes!
Which Pears are Best for Baking?
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.
How to Keep the Pears from Falling Over in the Cake
To keep the pears from falling over in the cake, slice off the bottoms of the pears to make a flat surface.
It’s OK if they lean a little, but the pears look best when they are standing tall and proud.
How to 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.
How to Poach Pears
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!
How to Keep of the Bottom of the Pear Cake from Getting Soggy
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 Prep a Loaf Pan for Baking
Using parchment paper in my loaf pans has been a total baking game changer for me. I never have to worry about the batter sticking to pan and the parchment makes it super easy to remove the cake and get it onto a cooling rack when it is done.
Use a Country Crock® Baking Stick to grease the pan – this will make sure that your parchment paper sticks to the pan.
Then, lay down parchment over the bottom of the pan lengthwise, making it longer than the length of the pan. Grease the top of that with the baking stick so the next piece of parchment will stick to it.
Lay down a piece of parchment going across the width of the loaf pan, making it longer than needed so that you can use it to lift the cake out of the pan.
How to Know When the Pear Cake is Done
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.
Pear Cake Recipe
If you've tried this recipe, please RATE THE RECIPE and leave a comment below!
Poaching pears might seem like a lot of work, but the flavor it adds is out of this world.
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
- 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 County Crock® Unsalted Baking Sticks 1 stick
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup full-fat sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- Powdered sugar to taste
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.
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 County Crock® Unsalted Buttery Stick 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.