4.77 from 17 votes

Cardamom Pear Cake

Pear-Cardamom Cake | ZoeBakes by Zoë François

Cardamom is the quintessential flavor of the holidays in Scandinavian countries. I hadn’t used it much before moving to Minnesota, where Swedish and Norwegian baking is part of the fabric of this community’s tradition. It is also the perfect spice for pears. When I put the pears into the batter of this pear-cardamom cake they want to slump into the cake and bake under the surface. I discovered that by checking the pears after 20 minutes of baking to make sure they’re upright in the pan, they stand straight when they come out of the oven. I must say I’m pretty pleased with the results. Updated recipe from my book, Zoe Bakes Cakes, below.

A slice of Pear-Cardamom Cake | ZoeBakes by Zoë François

This pear-cardamom cake, with a cardamom confectioners’ sugar glaze, slices up so beautifully. I love leaving the stems on the pears for extra drama.

Pears resting in cake batter | ZoeBakes by Zoë François
Pear-Cardamom Cake | ZoeBakes by Zoë François
Cardamom Pear Cake | ZoeBakes

Pear-Cardamom Cake

The perfumed sweetness of the pears in this cake meets the warmth of candied ginger and cardamom to create a sophisticated combination that tastes as comforting as Grandma's house feels.
4.77 from 17 votes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup 165g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup 200g granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons molasses
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped candied ginger
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups 210g all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup 120ml buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 6 small ripe pears peeled and cored (leave stems on for drama)*

Cardamom Confectioners’ Sugar Icing:

  • 1 cup 120g confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Instructions

  • For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F / 175 degrees C. Generously grease and flour a 10-inch / 25 cm tube pan.
  • in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Turn the mixer speed to low; add the sugar, molasses, and vanilla to the butter; and mix until incorporated. Then turn the speed to medium-high and mix until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the ginger and mix until incorporated.
  • Turn the speed to medium-low and add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined. Scrape the bowl after each addition.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt.
  • Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing on low speed, just until combined. Add half of the buttermilk and mix to incorporate. Repeat with another one-third flour, the remaining liquid, and then finish with the final one-third flour, scraping the bowl and paddle after each addition.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Gently tap the pan on the counter several times to release excess air bubbles. Press the pears, upright, halfway into the batter, spacing them evenly around the pan. Set the pan on a baking sheet.
  • Bake until the cake is golden and a tester comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Check the cake at about 20 minutes to make sure the pears aren’t slumping over. If they are, use the stem to right them in the batter and continue baking. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let cool completely in the pan.
  • Run a knife around the edge of the cake, the center tube, and the bottom of the pan and then carefully transfer, using a large spatula to lift it off the base, to a serving plate. Drizzle with the icing before serving.
  • For the Icing: In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, cream, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, then stir with a spoon to mix into a thick paste.
  • Add additional cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, to achieve a consistency that can be drizzled over your cake. You should be able to draw a line through the icing with the back of a spoon. Use immediately.

Notes

*To get the perfect ratio of cake to fruit, you’ll want to choose thin, tall pears. I like Bosc, Concorde, Starkrimson, and Bartlett for their shapes and flavors in this cake.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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31 thoughts to “Cardamom Pear Cake”

    1. Hi Barb,

      Are you on Instagram? The video is there in the highlights. If you are, please DM me and I will show you where.

      Thanks, Zoë

    2. This cake is great. I don’t have a tube pan, so I had to make a few adjustments: I cut the pears into slices. I poured 1/2 of the batter into a 9×9 pan, spread the pear slices on it and then poured in the remaining batter. It’s not the show-stopper of having the whole pears, but it tastes just as delicious!

  1. This looks heavenly! I would love to try this in individual pans with one pear per pan for personal deserts. Any reason to think that wouldn’t work?

    1. Hi Genevieve! Other readers have done it this way and it does work, but since Zoë has not tested it, we are not entirely sure what the bake time would be.

  2. Hi! Is the recipe for the “twisty cinnamon with jam (can’t recall the name) pastry ” also shown in this episode posted anywhere?

    I am LOVING her show! She may be MY soul sister! 🙂

  3. Huge fan of the show and of her cake cook ook – my question is this – both here and in her cookbook, the cake recipe is the same, BUT on the episode, it is totally different. Both look good, but the ingredients AND the techniques are very different – one resulting in a pound cake and this one a different texture entirely. Am I crazy? About to make it for the first time and have ingredients for both versions, but not sure which to follow. Just rewatched the episode and think I will follow that one first, but now I’m curious.

    1. Hi Amy,

      They are different and I honestly like them both so much. I think start with the one from the show, which everyone went crazy for and then try the one from the book and let me know what you think!

      Thanks, Zoë

  4. 5 stars
    Hi Zoe,
    I am so excited to prepare this recipe today! The cake is cooling now and I am about to begin making the icing!!!

    This cake is being prepared for my daughter Maria’s 30 birthday! I watched your show on Magnolia Network and love love love it!

    Question: For storage purposes does this cake need to be refrigerated to stay fresh for a few days?

    Please advise.

    Thank you!
    Missy

    1. Hi Missy,

      Thank you so much for watching the show and for the beautiful note, I hope your daughter had a wonderful birthday! You can refrigerate the cake, but it really is best right after baked, and do let it come to room temperature before serving for best results.

      Cheers, Zoë

  5. 5 stars
    I’m making your cookbook version today for a girlfriend lunch and I’m curious when the cardamom is added – is it with the ginger? So excited to bring a bit of my Scandinavian heritage to our event!

    1. Hi Zama, Thank you for letting us know this ingredient was missing in the instructions! You can add cardamom with the flour, baking powder and salt. I have updated the recipe to reflect this. Happy baking!

  6. 5 stars
    I made your pie crust it came out better the professional

    I made the Chocolate chips cookies ;they were the best I ever made.

    The pizza Dough was awesome the Tipo 00 flour is the only way to go.

    Best part is watching on Discovery app.

    1. 3 stars
      My batter came out medium brown and thick, not liquidy and light yellow like in the photo. I followed the recipe to a T. My
      pears stood straight up with out issue and were only about 1.5 inches submerged. I feel like I made a different cake all together. I also feel like the photo is for the Swedish / almond/ cardamon version and not the molasses version? We’ll see how it turns out. Smells amazing so far.

  7. 5 stars
    Hi Zoë and cake baking team,
    I have a question about your pear cardamom cake. It appears it’s baked in an angel food cake pan; is that correct? If not, please tell me what type of pan to get or how to accommodate the recipe. Thanks!

    Pat

    1. Hi Pat, Zoë uses a well greased angel food pan to make this cake. The difference between a tube pan and an angel food cake pan is that some tube pans are non-stick and angel food cake pans can’t be, because angel food cake needs to cling to the sides of the pan in order to not collapse. We would not suggest a “man made hole” with a springform pan as you mentioned in your other comment, because the can will likely float around the batter rather than staying in place. I hope this helps!

  8. Perfect! I have the world’s oldest angel food cake pan that will suffice for this “project!” I hope I can pull it off. Thank you SO much for your reply and clarification. I am totally enjoying Zoë’s new cake book Happy New Year!

      1. One more odd question about the pan. The angel food cake pan I have measures 8.5” diameter at the bottom and slightly flairs out to 10” at the top. I’m sure it’s the right one since the recipe calls for a 10”, but just want to be sure since baking times can be very affected by pan size. Thanks, Stephanie!

          1. Well I made it, and it came out perfectly! Thanks for your coaching. One more query….Idid not see in the recipe when to add the cardamom, so I just added it to the flour, etc., and incorporated it accordingly. Did I miss something?

            Thank you, Stephani!

  9. 5 stars
    OMG, I made this for my moms 86th birthday and she LOVED it! She said it was one of the best cakes she’s ever eaten! In 86 years, I think that’s pretty good! And, my mom LOVES cake! I used 4 pears instead of six and I’m happy I did bc we were a smaller gathering, so I didn’t want the pears to spoil bc no one was eating the cake leftovers! And, the cake did not come off the center piece of the Bundt pan in one piece. It broke into large chunks, so I just pieced it lovingly back together on the cake dish and with the icing, no one was the wiser! You couldn’t even tell! I also cut up small bits of candied ginger and put on top of the icing, which added some more pizzazz to the cakes decoration! Thanks SO MUCH Zoe! I’ve baked a couple of your things now with great accolades from all who enjoy! I love your show too :)!!!!

  10. 5 stars
    Hi Zoe
    I love, love, love this cake!! So I lost one of my pears sideways but who cares! I baked it for my husbands birthday, he doesn’t like pears. But he loved this cake! At first bite I was soo proud of myself I felt like a real baker! The level of flavor and texture was up there with fancy restaurant quality! I had a lot of apples so I diced some and substituted the pears. It’s baking now will let you know!! I love your show!! Film more soon!!!
    Sheri

  11. 5 stars
    This cake is great. I don’t have a tube pan, so I had to make a few adjustments: I cut the pears into slices. I poured 1/2 of the batter into a 9×9 pan, spread the pear slices on it and then poured in the remaining batter. It’s not the show-stopper of having the whole pears, but it tastes just as delicious!

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