Pear Cake


Autumn and winter are peak seasons for pear varietals.

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I like to use Bosc in this cake recipe but feel free to experiment with other types. I love this cake because it presents pears in two delicious ways: the caramelized pear layer on top, and the fresh chunks of pear nestled in the cake. The olive oil cake has a flavorful blend of cardamom, clove, orange and vanilla that complements pear nicely.

Recipe TypeDessert
Author: Lei Shishak
Makes: 1 9-inch cake


  • 1⁄3 cup whole milk
  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 2 cloves, crushed
  • 1⁄3 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup salted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large Bosc pears
  • 1 large egg
  • 1⁄3 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan and set aside.
  2. Combine the milk, cardamom, and cloves in a small pot over high heat. Bring to just a boil, remove from heat, and let steep.
  3. In another small pot, combine the brown sugar, butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla over high heat. Boil for 30 seconds, stirring constantly, and then pour into the prepared cake pan. Tilt the pan to ensure the caramel evenly coats the bottom.
  4. Peel the pears and cut them in half. Remove cores and cut 18-inch thick slices. Arrange them on the bottom of the caramel-coated pan in a concentric pattern. Rough chop the remaining pears, enough to measure 1 cup, and set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk the egg, sugar, oil, orange zest, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Strain in the infused milk and stir in until blended. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chopped pears. Stir until all the ingredients are incorporated. Pour batter into the pan and smooth out top. Bake for 25 minutes until the center is set. Let cake cool for a few minutes before inverting onto a serving plate.

From Chef Lei Shishak, author of Farm to Table Desserts: 80 Seasonal Organic Recipes Made from Your Local Farmer’s Markets, 2017, Skyhorse Publishing. 

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