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delicious pear cake

2 sticks, plus 1 T unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/4cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder pinch salt
4 T cream
2-6 pears, depending on size and personal taste

pre-heat oven to 350.

butter a 9-inch pie/cake pan and coat with brown sugar

1. mix butter and sugars and beat until fluffy.

2. add the eggs, one at the time, and stir well. add vanilla.

3. sift the flour and baking powder together, mix some of it onto the batter, then add some of the cream then some of the batter....etc. until all is blended, finishing with wet, but mix as little as possible.

4. smear half of the batter in the pan.

5. peel and core the pears, cut in pieces, and spread out on the batter. pour on the rest of the batter, and add a new layer of pear pieces if you like. just push them a little down into the batter. (i used about 4 very ripe pears and dredged the pieces in cinnamon and ginger before pushing into the batter.)

6. bake between 30-45 minutes, depending on the amount of pears used. (many pears - more moist - more time.) but check after 30 minutes to be sure. ready when a cake tester comes out clean.

this can be made as a loaf too.

the brown sugar caramelizes nicely to give a great crisp to the exterior of the cake and the cake itself just gets better after a day or two. delicious with vanilla ice or whipped cream mixed with a bit of plain yogurt.

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  1. Just copied this recipe to try. What kind of pears did you use?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bethcooks

      +1 - that sounds so good. Pears are just starting to come on here, so I'll have to try it.

      1. re: Bethcooks

        lol, i used an assortment -- they were very ripe and marked down for quick sale at my grocer. i used 4 decent sized ones this time.

      2. Question for you:

        I'm making this in the morning. Do you mix the 1/4 brown sugar into the batter? Or is that the amount you use to coat the pan? I ask because the recipe says to mix the butter and sugars (plural).

        Hoping you will see this and let me know.

        If I don't hear, I'm going to assume that the 1/4 cup brown sugar is to be used to coat the pan. Because a cup of sugar seems like enough to me.

        Thanks much!

        1 Reply
        1. re: karykat

          the brown sugar coating on the pan was not included in the measure of the other sugars that i beat with the butter.

          at first i thought 1.25 cups of sugar sounded like a lot too, but the cake came out great and not overly sweet. the .25 cups of brown sugar was not tightly packed.

        2. Very nice, like the brown sugar coating step. Thanks for posting. I'll give it a go, love pears.

          1. Very delicious sounding recipe! I love pears too. Do you think that they have to be that ripe?

            3 Replies
            1. re: roxlet

              pears have a relatively delicate flavor, so even though they cook down easily, i think riper ones present a better flavor in the finished cake.

              have been on a pear kick lately! yesterday took the big crumb coffee cake from smittenkitchen and used pear instead of rhubarb. wow, is it good! added almond extract to the topping though and also a squirt of lemon to the pears and each brought it to a whole other dimension.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                That sounds delicious as well! I grew up with a Seckel pear tree in the backyard, and we had pear everything in season, so pear is a very nostalgic taste for me. One of my favorite perfumes (Petite Cherie) has a distinct pear note too. Love pears!

                1. re: roxlet

                  i love them as well, although commercial varieties now just taste sugary, with little nuance, that's why i guess i've finally switched to baking them instead of eating them raw. lol, my friends and neighbors are thrilled too since i'm baking far more than my b/f and i can (or should) eat.

            2. My cake turned out great. Thanks hotoy for a very good recipe.

              I used three pears (pretty big ones). Thought that if my batter was too wet with pears that it might take longer to bake so the caramel might burn. Not sure if that was a real worry or not. Anyway, I had a good amount of pears.

              The pear that you put on top and press into the batter sink as the cake is baking.

              My pears were not all that ripe. (Thought again that the dough might be too wet if they were real ripe. Not sure that was a real worry either. The pear in the baked cake was firm but not in a bad way. Pears could have been riper.

              When I was putting the sugar on the pan, my brown sugar wouldn't stick for me. Maybe if I had sieved it it would have stuck better. But it really wouldn't stick at all. I had some turbinado sugar and used that. It worked like a charm. Stuck to the buttered pan very evenly. And the finished cake had this beautiful caramelized crust that smelled and tasted heavenly.

              So I will definitely be making this again. Would probably be good with other fruit too, like apple and cranberries? Peaches in summer?

              Thanks hotoynoodle.

              2 Replies
              1. re: karykat

                am glad you enjoyed it! have been on a baking binge lately for some unknown reason, lol.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  I made this recipe again yesterday for my book club. Fantastic. Really good. I used pears that were more ripe this time and the cake took much longer to bake. For a little while I was worried it wouldn't set up. But it just took longer.

                  Great taste. There were great reviews all around the table. Even from some people who aren't really "dessert people."

                  Next time I might cut the recipe to about 3/4 and bake in an 8 inch pan. Will have to check the math on that.

                  Anyway, there are two pieces left which will be Valentines night dessert for me and my sweetheart tonight.

              2. Also, I used parchment paper on the bottom of the pan which I think was good too.

                1. Pears are the only fruit I got from the trees this year thanks to a wild spring. I am anxious to try this recipe. I made another one last which was similiar only it had toasted pinenuts also added to the batter. Thanks for the recipe!

                  1. As long as this post has been revived, I'll add that Bosc pears (the supermarket ones with brown skin) have a less juicy, grainier texture than other popular supermarket varieties, which makes them a good choice for this type of cake.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: greygarious

                      Boscs were on sale yesterday and would have been a good choice. Because my pears were kind of hard the last time I made this, I wanted to try something riper seeming. And I lucked into some nice Comice that were ripe but not overripe. I think it did take longer to bake with these though. Next time -- a smaller pan.

                      For me the trick in this recipe is using the turbinado sugar instead of brown sugar to coat the sides and bottom of the pan. It sticks to the butter coating beautifully and makes this fantastic crust on the sides and bottom of the cake . The crust looks neat, makes the cake a little special and tastes great.

                    2. This cake really is delicious. I made it last night, used half-and-half instead of heavy cream and dredged pears in cinnamon & ginger as you suggested. Also used a square glass dish and just baked it longer. It's not too sweet; I'll definitely make it again. Here's a photo of how mine came out. Thanks hotoy!

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Niblet

                        That looks gorgeous! Glad I got to see this thread, I can't wait to try this hotoy.

                          1. re: HillJ

                            That looks good too HillJ, don't know how I missed that one.

                            Karykat, definitely trying with the turbinado, sounds like a good idea!

                            1. re: lilgi

                              I've made that particular pear cake with grated pear/apple, apples only, zukes only and I double the vanilla and cinnamon every time.

                              1. re: HillJ

                                I love pears over apples and make tarte-tatin with them when I can get the right ones. (I can't remember which variety I've used, but with a 12-inch CI skillet which I would never ever recommend from one of Paula Wolfert's recipes; very good, but need to get a 10-inch soon and adapt to that one. I happened to have the 12-inch and it works, but try visualizing inverting that heavy pan with hot caramel :P)

                                Good to know that the Smitten one works with zucchini, I wasn't happy with Gina DePalma's so I'll try again maybe with this one.

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  How do you think subbing almond extract for the vanilla would be?

                                  1. re: pine time

                                    I'm not Hill or J but almond works for me with pears. Vanilla is a warm flavoring but almond is rich, and would be just fine, imo. I don't think I'd add two tsp though, try 1 to start. Almond can be very obvious.

                                    1. re: pine time

                                      Concur with bushwickgirl on almond. I've done a raspberry almond creme version with almond extract but not with pear. If you like almond, I see no reason not to give it a go.

                            2. re: Niblet

                              okay I missed this, this looks just wonderful! Nicely done, I will buy some bosc pears, they ripen super fast.

                            3. I'm glad to be reminded of this recipe as the pears are starting to look good in our market.

                              The sugar crust on the outside was really exceptional. Made the cake really special.

                              The trick for me was using the turbinado sugar to coat the pan.

                              22 Replies
                              1. re: karykat

                                My favorite pear cake is one from Al di La restaurant in Brooklyn. It's pears and chocolate and is just divine! I'll look up the recipe if anybody's interested. I think it's here on Chowhound somewhere.

                                1. re: oakjoan

                                  Sure, why not? The more pear cake recipes (although hotoy's is pearacilious) the merrier.

                                  Oops, here it is, courtesy of SmittenKitchen:


                                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                                    pearalicious! lol. i was just thinking of this cake, seeing pears at the farmer's market now!

                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                      I love this cake. I have a baking averse friend who brings me pears every so often to make it and I keep half. It is a great cake and freezes well.

                                      1. re: magiesmom

                                        Good to know if freezes well. Does the sugar crust on the outside hold up to freezing?

                                          1. re: magiesmom

                                            Great. Thanks much.

                                            The sugar crust on this cake is really special, I think.

                                      2. re: bushwickgirl

                                        I've had that recipe bookmarked for ages... I've got to try it! Has anyone made it yet?

                                        1. re: rstuart

                                          Well, I think oakjoan has see upthread, since she mentioned the recipe and it's source.

                                          Go for it, let us know.

                                        2. re: bushwickgirl

                                          just out of the oven; I had 3 pears sitting on the kitchen counter - the OP's delicious pear cake was not an option because I have no cream in the house - dashing out the door and there's no tasting until this evening.... thanks for the recipe link

                                          1. re: Cynsa

                                            after reading the 286 comments on this SmittenKitchen recipe for bittersweet chocolate pear cake, right or wrong - it's delightfully delicious - it has a bottom layer of pear, a middle layer of chocolate chunks, and topped with a brown buttery crisp cake layer.

                                            1. re: Cynsa

                                              OK.. next time I have a legitimate excuse to bake, that's it! I'm making that cake..

                                              1. re: rstuart

                                                a legit excuse is "i feel like it!" i don't have a sweet tooth but really enjoy baking, so give away almost everything i make. your neighbors and co-workers will be happy, fer sure.

                                                someone upthread mentioned making this cake with apples. i tried that the other day with excellent macintoshes, but found the cake far too cloying. i added freshly grated ginger to the batter, which was nice, but will stick with pears for this one.

                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                  haha... I divided the cake in thirds to share with neighbors but we ate it all :^) last night and this morning.

                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                    hotoy, if I'm following this thread correctly..there are 3 separate recipes listed...which one was too sweet with apple sub'ing the pear?
                                                    I'm experiencing pear-confusion.

                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                      my original at the top. sorry -- should have been more clear.

                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                        Thank you. I'm going to give the recipe @ top a try on Sunday.

                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                          a fourth one maybe ;) came across another chocolate/pear cake, different than the one from al di la but it looks so good. I might have a hard time deciding which one to make from the chocolate/pear combos. This one seems to be more of a cake where the other one seems to be more like dessert, richer and goo-ier, not that I don't love the latter.
                                                          You have to scroll down a bit:

                                                          1. re: lilgi

                                                            Oh that looks lovely, lilgi. Keep me posted on your results pls.

                                                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                it sure does, crossing my fingers to try this weekend before I start planning for turkey day :O

                                                                1. re: lilgi

                                                                  Now after reading the responses I'm pretty sure I should have gotten bosc pears, I bought d'anjou, worried now that they may get too soft. I've decided to make the chocolate one I posted this weekend and try Hotoynoodle's on or around Thanksgiving.

                                        3. I forgot to put in the spices, but it was good, but more like a pudding, although the cake near the edges of the pan was completely done. . Maybe I put in too many pears (6 small to medium sized boscs).

                                          9 Replies
                                            1. re: karykat

                                              The one that began this thread.

                                            2. re: PAO

                                              Yes, mine was delicious, but almost like a custard too. I baked it over an hour (I do think my relatively new oven is running low) and then the tester came out clean. Also I used a glass 9 inch pie pan and there was too much batter about 1/3 of a cup. I used the recipe that began the thread.
                                              I used 4 pears (2 large and 2 average perfectly ripe).
                                              Hotoynoodle Is this the way it should be? Thanks for the recipe it is wonderful.

                                              1. re: mscoffee1

                                                my results are cakey, not custardy. perhaps i am using smallish pears.

                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                  I used 4 average size ripe Bosc pears, was plenty for my 9 x 9 cake pan. I would have added more pear if I could. Mine was also more cake like and just delicious.

                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                    Thanks for the help hotoynoodle and bushwickgirl. I think the problem is the pan. Using a square pan would give more room than a round pan - bosc pears would definitely be smaller and probably less wet.
                                                    It is going to be funny if I get it right as a real cake and I like it better with a custard like consistency. What fun - off to get more pears.

                                                    1. re: mscoffee1

                                                      Mine was cakey, but one time took quite a bit longer to bake. I think the variables may be the amount of pears and how ripe and soft they are.

                                                      Hope it's cakeier for you next time. I think this recipe is really a winner. Especially with that really cool sugar crust.

                                                      The next time I make it I'm going to cut back the recipe and make it in an 8 inch round pan so it can bake through easily and get nice and cakey in less baking time.

                                                      1. re: mscoffee1

                                                        I used a 9 inch square pan. It definitely turned out cakey on the edges, but the middle was more custardy. But 6 boscs, even though small-medium, may have been too much.

                                                        1. re: PAO

                                                          Either cake like or custard, both sound like good eating to me.

                                                2. I made the SK pear cake and then drizzled this from Sarabeth's over the cake:

                                                  1. This sounds really good, I'm not to crazy about icings, this sounds very nice!

                                                    1. the little ones would love this, all but one love pears

                                                      1. This recipe is a real keeper!

                                                        I doubled the recipe, substituted unsweetened applesauce for 3/4 of the butter, cut down the white sugar to 3/4 c per recipe and followed the suggestion of tossing the pear chunks with ginger and cinnamon.....in a bundt pan and it's excellent!

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                          I keep getting mixed up about what recipe we're talking about. Did you make one of the recipes with chocolate or the one with the sugar crust?

                                                          Did you make the Smitten Kitchen? That one has chocolate, right?

                                                          1. re: karykat

                                                            I'm not weezieduzzit, but he/she (I like to think weezie's a she; matter of fact, I'd bet on it) is talking about the OP's delicious pear cake, which includes instructions on dredging the pear chunks in sugar and cinnamon before pushing them into the batter.

                                                            I was befuddled as well, and had to re-read the recipes; this thread has become a bit confusing. Then I remembered that I did that step (pear dredging) and it really added to the cake. Don't neglect that step.

                                                            1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                              neither my b/f nor i are chocolate peeps and both prefer fruit-based deserts. i'm glad this thread and recipe are getting some traction. i do love this cake.

                                                              thanks, guys!

                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                Your cake is well worth it, and thanks for sharing it.

                                                                Plus I like that this is a happy thread.

                                                        2. I'm a she:)

                                                          It was the OPs recipe. I have not made the other, I don't like chocolate at all.

                                                          Didn't mean to be confusing!

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                            This pear bread recipe (bundt style) is also circulating this thread and doesn't include chocolate. Foolproof recipe.

                                                            1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                              I'd have figured it out if i'd spent an extra second reading.

                                                              Isn't that sugar crust great?!!! Really different but so simple.