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, which have such a subtle flavor and absorb the intense spice when poached. I started with very firm pears and poached them slowly, so they would take on as much of the cardamom poaching liquid as possible. After the pears were poached to the point of just succumbing to the tines of a fork, but not too soft as to be mushy, I put them in a cardamom and orange cake batter, that I adapted from a Bake from Scratch recipe. When I put the pears into the batter they want to slump into the cake and bake under the surface. I did a little MacGyver engineering and secured them upright in the pan, so they would be standing straight when they came out of the oven. I must say that I was pretty pleased with the results. Recipe below.
Cardamom Pear Cake
6 Pears poached as directed here – you will see that I only used 5 pears, but there was quite a bit of cake that didn’t have a slice of pear, so I recommend you use 6.
1 recipe Orange-Cardamom Loaves from Bake from Scratch (the recipe makes two loaves or one tube pan with pears)
2 cups (240g) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon cardamom – this will be a bold flavor, so go with half the cardamom at first to make sure it is to your liking.
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (more to make pourable)
To make the cake:
Mix as directed in the recipe.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Generously grease a tube pan with butter and then flour it. Pour all of the cake batter into the pan (the recipe makes two loaves or one tube). Dry off the pears and place them in the batter. If they are slumping, secure them with metal skewers to see this bit of MacGyver brilliance, see my instagram post. Bake for about 55-60 minutes or until the cake is golden and a tester comes out with moist (not wet) crumbs.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 30 minutes. When it is still warm, but comfortable enough to touch with your hands, run a knife around the edge of the pan and around the inside of the tube, then lift the cake out of the pan, still on the base. Allow to cool completely and then lift it off the base of the pan and onto a serving plate. I used 3 spatulas under the cake to lift it, with the helping hand of my husband.