5 from 3 votes

Poached Pear Ginger Cake

Pear Ginger Cake| ZoeBakes (1 of 6)

Pear ginger cake is the quintessential fall cake.

Poached pears were the symbol of a sophisticated dessert when I was a kid. Not that we ever had them, but I saw them standing tall on the pages of Gourmet magazine and always thought how magical it would be to eat something so beautiful. They’re just so elegant and complex and generally boozed up with wine. I poached these in a chai tea cider mixture and they are just as satisfying without the buzz. The cake is spicy with a kick of freshly grated ginger and tons of warm spice from cloves and cinnamon. It’s by no means an overly sweet cake, which is how I like them. The molasses gives it color and that edge of bitter that I love. I’ve made it using more molasses and I love it, but I mellowed it down by adding some brown sugar to the mix. I think this is a perfect Thanksgiving dessert!

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Pear Ginger Cake| ZoeBakes (6 of 6)
Pear Ginger Cake| ZoeBakes (5 of 6)

Poached Pear Ginger Cake

This poached pear ginger cake is spicy with a kick of freshly grated ginger and tons of warm spice from cloves and cinnamon. It’s by no means an overly sweet cake, which is how I like them. The molasses gives it color and that edge of bitter that I love.
5 from 3 votes


Poached Pears

  • 4 firm pears, peeled and cored (I use a melon baller), with stem left on. I used bosc pears, but any will do as long as they are very firm. Soft pears will just turn to mush when you poach them
  • 4 cups cider
  • 2 cups black tea
  • 6 cardamom pods I leave them whole, but you can slightly crush these for more intense flavor.
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, cut into pieces
  • 10 cloves

Ginger Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp clove
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 oz unsalted butter, soft
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, well packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger More to taste
  • 3/4 cup black tea


Poached Pears

  • Combine the cider, spices and tea in a large pot. Add pears and simmer. Cook pears until they are tender. The timing will depend on how firm your pears are. To check to see if they are done, scoop the pears out of the liquid with a slotted spoon and poke the inside of the pear with a fork. It should still resist, but not be too hard. The pear will continue to soften as it bakes in the cake. Remove the pears and set aside.
  • Save poaching liquid to make cocktails or drink as is.

Ginger Cake

  • Prepare a pan with butter and parchment (this is an extra tall and long pan, but you can use a 9×5 Loaf Pan instead or a Pullman Loaf Pan without the lid).
  • Preheat over to 350°F.
  • Whisk together the flour, spices, salt and soda, set aside.
  • Cream the butter and sugars together. Add the molasses and ginger and mix to combine. Add the egg and mix. Alternate adding the dry and tea to the mix, 1/3 dry, then half liquid, dry, liquid and always end with dry. Mix only enough to combine.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
  • Set the pears into the batter.
  • Bake for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. I know this is a crazy range of time, but depending on the size and temperature of your pears it may take a very long time for the cake to set. Check with a tester and when it comes out with moist crumbs it is done.
  • Cool in the pan until you can comfortably hold the pan. Lift the cake out with parchment and cool completely before slicing.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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12 thoughts to “Poached Pear Ginger Cake”

  1. Hi Zoe, this is a gorgeous tasting recipe but I did a dry run before making it for Christmas and I was wondering how to bake long enough for the middle to bake without overdoing the outer edges?
    (i will post and tag you when i do it nicely next week)
    Thank You!
    Ilene x.

    1. Hi Ilene,

      What sized pan are you baking in? If you find the outside is baking too fast, you may want to reduce the temperature slightly and let it bake a bit longer. Make sure the pear is warm when putting it in the cake, so the pear doesn’t prevent the batter in the center from baking.

      Cheers, Zoë

  2. 5 stars
    Amo esta receta. La hice varias veces con distintas variedades de pera y con los productos que consigo en la Patagonia (Argentina)

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Zoe,
    I’ve been waiting for pear season to try this amazing recipe !
    Should peeled and split in half the pears ? If not how to cored them with a melon baller ?

    1. Hi Miri, yes you could make this without the pears, but the volume will be quite a bit less if you leave them out. Zoë suggests you use a smaller loaf pan 8×4 inch so the cake isn’t too short. It also won’t take as long to bake, so be sure to look through your oven door about halfway through the baking time to check on it. Enjoy!

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