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.
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.
- 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
- 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.