Cardamom Pear Cake

So!  Five pears down, 500 left to go.  I no longer need to steal the pears out of my parents’ back yard, they have started foisting them on us.  This pleases me immensely, as you can well imagine, because I DO really enjoy free produce in whatever form it takes.  I also really enjoy having ridiculous amounts of canned goods, like pear chutney, just in case of the apocalypse or another such catacylsmic event whereby my 15 canning jars will save us from starvation and scurvy….at least for a week or two.

Anyway, I love cardamom and I love pears.  That was more than enough inspiration for me to make a coffee cake with those two ingredients playing front and center.  It’s a wonderfully moist cake and just perfect with a cup of Earl Grey…or coffee, since it wouldn’t be much of a coffee cake if you didn’t have coffee.  But some people don’t like coffee, and maybe they’re caffeine intolerant, so what’s wrong with tea?  I like tea. We should all drink more tea.

I’m submitting this recipe to the weekly event Weekend Herb Blogging, which was founded at Kalyn’s Kitchen. This week it is being hosted by Laurie Constantino of Mediterranean Cooking In Alaska, so why not pop over there and see what other people are offering in the world of herbs and interesting produce?

Cardamom Pear Cake

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 large firm Bosc pears
  • 3 cups + 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup salted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
To get ready, pre-heat the oven to 350F.  While we’re preparing, might as well butter (don’t be stingy, everyone likes butter) and flour a 10″ bundt cake pan.  I actually bought this pan on a whim about a year ago and never used it.  Well, today’s the day!!  And good news:  Nordic Ware did not let me down….that’s because Finns and Swedes like their cardamom sweet bread, you see.  I knew that nothing bad could come of this.


Combine the brown sugar, 3 tbsp of flour, cardamom and cocoa in a medium bowl

Chop the pears up into a small dice, approximately 1/4 inch.

Combine the pears with the sugar laden, cocoay, cardamomish mixture.

Alright, now let’s get down to business. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar. This step is always my downfall, without fail. As humiliating as this is, I am the shame-faced adult who can’t seem to stop herself from eating the creamed butter and sugar. I know, I KNOW. Yes, that’s horrifyingly unhealthy and frankly, rather gross. But…but I can’t help myself. I’m drawn to it. I’m like a sugary butter addict. It’s a problem, I know, but one that I’m trying to overcome over time.

And by ‘time’ I mean, ‘another time’. Right before I took the picture I snaked a finger around the rim of the bowl and had a taste. And I wonder why I have a weight problem. Sigh.

Crack the eggs in one at a time, mixing after each one to make sure that they are completely incorporated.

Continue mixing and add the rest of the wet ingredients, namely the yoghurt and vanilla extract. Okay, so technically I could have said ‘both’ of the wet ingredients instead of ‘the rest’, but we both knew where this was going, right?


Finally, sift together the flour and the baking powder.  I will openly admit that this is a case of ‘do as I say and not as I do’ because I absolutely didn’t do that.  It’s a weeknight.  I have priorities.  Sifting things is for the weekend and malingering sick days that you don’t actually need to take but you feel like watching tv in your pajamas and baking.  Not that I would know.

Add the carefully sifted flour (ha!) a cup at a time into the wet mixture, and continue mixing as you go. Don’t forget to scrape down the sides of that darn bowl.

As soon as everything is combined you can stop.  No need to overmix things in this kitchen!  Also, this is a very moist cake and you don’t want to make it any denser than it needs to be.  The batter will be rather thick.

Add about 1/3 of the pears to the batter.  

Gently fold the pears into the thick batter, and spread 1/2 of it into the bottom of your prepared pan.

Evenly coat this with the rest of the pears.

Glop the rest of the batter on top and smooth it out.  Then, using a butter knife or a strong skewer, cut a zig-zag motion throughout the cake.

Smooth out the top again, and it’s ready to go in the oven.

Let the cake cook for approximately 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cake rest for 5 minutes before unmolding it and allowing it to cool on a wire rack.  And, as you can see, I had a slightly heavy hand when flouring the pan.  Oh well, it all goes to the same place anyway. 

When it cools, this is a delightful treat for some afternoon visitors, served with a cup of hot coffee…or tea. Now isn’t this just so very civilized.

Remember, pinkies up before you take a bite.

Uh huh-huh, well I dare say, dear chap.  This tea time is simply delightful!  Now be a dove, dear heart, and go pour me another cuppa….


  • noble pig

    What a cool cake, love the pear chunks and cardamom…beautiful.

  • We Are Never Full

    i LOVE the idea of cardamom in there with the pears. drrrooooool.

  • Tina

    Aw, thanks Noble Pig and We Are Never Full!! Cardamom and pear is a classic marriage, but one that many people seem afraid of for some reason. I don’t know why, and I’m more than happy to campaign on their behalf. After all, who am *I* to interfere with true love?

  • Kristie

    Tina, you sexy minx, with your pear cakes and luscious bundt photos…you kill me. Now, for the important part: I, too, eat butter and sugar creamed together. I like it even more after it has the vanilla and some brown sugar. I would spread it on bread if I didn’t like being able to leave the house in an outfit that wasn’t designed by Cabellas.

  • Tina

    Kristie – DO YOU?! DO YOU REALLY?! I feel so much better now. Mind you, I would feel far less shame if I ran 18 miles a day like you do. As it is, I just know that I’ll eat it when I bake, so I bake less. I need to find a happy medium.

  • Laurie Constantino

    This cake sounds so good – I like that it is chock-full of pears. As for eating batter (no matter the stage), yes it is a tasty temptation. Thanks for participating in Weekend Herb Blogging!

  • Tina

    Thank you Laurie!

  • Kalyn

    What a wonderful sounding cake. I actually am not a big fruit fan, but I do love pears!

  • Tina

    Thank you Kalyn!! I will fully admit that I’m quite friendly with all fruits, but what I liked about this cake is that it wasn’t too sweet – which is more of a struggle for me!!

  • MariannaF

    amazing!! i believe pears are probably one of THE best fruits that match up with
    cardamom! really enjoying discovering the recipes on your blog 🙂

  • JenB

    Okay, I’ve made this cake twice – I like cake, I like pears, and I love cardamom. Yummy cake, no problems there, but I’ve got a bit of a goop problem. The first time, I used five pears. I know, I know, tempting fate. And then I forgot to do the zigzag with a knife bit. And as a result, it came out in three distinct layers – intact top, pear layer, which goopified the cake it came into contact with, and the rest of the cake, which cracked open a bit. Still, it tasted good, so I tried it again with only four pears this time. And I folded about half of these into the cake. And I remember the zigzag knife bit. And still? Goopy in places. Any suggestions? I’m thinking of just folding all the pears in next time.

    Also, where do you get your recipes from? I’ve been known to improvise with cooking, but not baking, so I’m curious to your source/inspirations. You know if you are improvising baked goods, you immediately qualify as a bonafide genius!

    • Tina

      JenB – do you know how much it tickles me when people try out a recipe? Seriously, you made my day with this comment.

      Alright, so the batter of this coffee cake is stiffer than most to accommodate for all of the liquid that will be leeched from the pears. When the cake is baked it will be quite moist and also rather dense – but in a coffee cake way, not like a heavy torte. If your cake is coming out ‘goopy’ then it’s going to be one of two issues:
      1) the pears
      2) the cake
      …and I realize that I just sounded like a jackass there. Bear with me, please.

      PEARS: 5 pears is a LOT. I used three and it was more than enough. If you have too many pears then you will not be able to incorporate them into the batter – particularly because the batter is rather stiff. Also, you need to use a really firm pear. Even a Bosc which is super-ripe will be too juicy, and stay away from the soft and delicious kind that you (and I!) probably love to eat, like Anjou.

      CAKE: Do you test the cake to make sure that a toothpick or skewer comes out clean? If the cake is underdone then that could lead to goopiness as well. If you find that the top is browning but the actual cake doesn’t seem cooked enough, try using a slightly lower oven temperature and keeping the cake in the upper third of your oven.

      I would recommend that you try using only 3 pears, make sure that they’re firm (even crunchy is fine) and cook your cake for a slightly longer time. I wouldn’t fold all of the pears into the cake because:
      a) the cake-to-pear ratio would be wacky. There’s not enough batter to hold that much pear.
      b) Having a concentrated thick ribbon of pears in the center also helps to keep them moist without being too dense.

      In terms of the recipes, I just like to fool around in the kitchen. I love reading cookbooks, magazines, and food blogs to see different techniques and flavor combinations. But…but then I usually wing it. And you’re right, improvised baking is a total crapshoot. I have loads of hockey-puck biscuits and chewy pie crusts to prove it. But don’t we all have those ‘Good grief!’ moments in the kitchen from time to time? And hey, how else can you learn if you don’t try?

      Thanks again for trying this cake, and if you make it again let me know what you think!

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  • courtnyj

    Wow! I didn’t have cardamom so I substituted ground ginger and it is delicious! The batter was indeed very thick and for some reason it seemed like the ratio of pears to batter wasn’t quite right for me. It tastes fantastic though, even if it doesn’t look as good as yours. 🙂 Thanks for the recipe!

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