Gourmet Spotlight: Spiced Pear Cake

By Kate Riley September 15, 2009

If it happens to me, I know it must happen to you too.  You’re sitting there minding your own business when all of a sudden you are hit with an overwhelming feeling.

Must. Have. Cake. Now.

Are you familiar with this phenomenon?  The sudden urge to bake something moist and delicious?  And then shovel a big slice down the hatch?   Oh, ahem.  How unladylike of me.  Let me rephrase.  Delicately take small bites with your pinkie in the air. 

In my region, we were hit with some unexpected rain over the weekend.  It must have been that smell of the first rain mixed together with the wind blowing the first leaves from the trees that caused something to click inside of me.  I just had to make my oh-so-autumn Spiced Pear Cake.  And I had to make it now. 

I take some of these pretty little Bartletts and transform them into the most moist and delicious flavor of fall. 

before and after

My spiced pear cake has a little of everything.  A glazed fruit topping, a down home ingredient like molasses, and the spices often found in the best fall comfort food.  What’s my secret ingredient to guarantee a moist cake?


Want the recipe?

Well then get yourself a bundle of these ripe n’ ready to be baked Bartlett pears.

pears of close

Then hurry on down to your local grocery store for these ingredients. 

Autumn Spiced Pear Cake

For topping:

1/4 cup butter

1 tbsp brown sugar

3/4 tsp cinnamon

2 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled & sliced thin


For cake:

2  3/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1 rounded tsp ginger*

1 rounded tsp cinnamon*

1/2 tsp allspice*

1/2 tsp nutmeg*

*or substitute 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

2/3 cup molasses

1/3 cup half & half (or milk)

1/3 cup applesauce

1 peeled & thinly diced Bartlett pear

Prepping the glazed fruit topping:

Lightly butter or use cooking spray to grease your 9 inch cheesecake pan.  If yours has a dimpled bottom like mine, you can add one or two pieces of parchment paper to the bottom to avoid a dimpled pear top.  Make thin slices with your 1/4 cup of cold butter, and layer on the bottom of your pan.  Sprinkle with a mixture of 1 tbsp brown sugar and 3/4 tsp cinnamon. 

layer butter and brown sugar mix

Layer with thin slices from 2 Bartlett pears. 

layer pears

For the cake:

Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices in bowl.  In second bowl, mix 1/2 cup softened butter, brown sugar, eggs, molasses, applesauce, and half & half in that order.  Mix flour mixture in thirds into moist egg & sugar mixture with hand mixer until blended.  Once blended, add diced pear and gently fold in with spatula.  Pour cake mixture over layered pears in cheesecake pan.   

Bake at 350° in regular oven for first 20 minutes, then lower to 325° for 35 more minutes (total 55 minutes).  It should be done, continue to check every 5 minutes until pierced knife comes out clean.  Baking tip:  A cheesecake pan with a removable side can leak some of the butter from the topping.  Place a cookie sheet on the rack underneath your cake pan to catch any drippings and avoid having to clean your oven. 

Allow cake to cool for 30 minutes.  Carefully remove from pan and turn upside down onto cake plate.  Peel off parchment paper. 

You’ll love this glazed pear upside-down style spiced cake for its delicate and delicious soft pear topping, and for its flavorful center.  It will remind you of fall, with its amazing combination of allspice, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. 

sliced pear topping

I can only keep mine on a cake plate for about 24 hours, because it just disappears so quickly. 

sliced pear cake

You can sift with confectioner’s sugar.  Or serve it up with vanilla ice cream.   I like to dollop fresh whipping cream on top. 

spice cake crop

I make spiced cider for my kids, and tea for me, and we sit around in the afternoon eating our slice and reading some books.

spice cake on plate with tea


And then the rain doesn’t bother us at all. 


  1. Oh my goodness, that looks INCREDIBLE! And I know what you mean – I have those cake-related urges all the time. Probably a bit more than I should, which explains the waistline, but hey ho! When cakes are this yummy looking how can anyone resist?! I’m going to make this as soon as I figure out an applesauce substitute as I’m not sure we have it in the UK… Thank you so much!

  2. I love this post! Can totally relate to MUST EAT CAKE NOW! But unfortunately I must usually eat much more than one piece! Thanks for sharing a great recipe.

  3. Mmmmmmm…..sounds amazing! Interestingly, I was hit with the must. have. cake. now. bug this weekend too. Although, my bug ended in chocolate chip cookies at 9:00 on Saturday night. I’ll definitely be picking up some pears and applesauce to try this recipe soon! Thanks! (And, I must say, it’s only September, but my gingerbread cravings are already starting!)

  4. I think I just gained a few pounds reading this. I am definitely going to have to try this. I love spice cake and this has many of the same ingredients. Might just have to give this a go this weekend.

  5. Oh my. Yummy! I love pears. After this apple pie I’m baking (as I type) is all gone. Well that should take about 7 minutes, maybe I will try this. ;)


  6. I also have those urges, but mine can only be satisfied by chocolate cake! :) However, your mouthwatering photos may make me change my mind.

  7. Ooo…I have copied this one. I cook often, but I don’t have a pear cake recipe, so I can’t wait to try this one. My husband will love it! Thanks.


  8. I just finished mixing the ingredients – it is in the oven RIGHT NOW. Husband LOVES pears. What a treat when he gets home from work. Thanks for the recipe and great photos.

  9. For some reason this post really struck me and I must have been in a certain mood because I made this cake tonight after work. It was DIVINE and my whole family asked me what the special occasion was. I loved it and have decided that this is going to be the “non pie” dessert option at our Thanksgiving dinner this year….it just has that taste about it. I served it warm with vanilla ice cream and it was to die for. Thanks!

  10. MMMMMMM I read this post yesterday morning and as soon as I finished work I had to go to the grocery store to get the ingredients to make it. It turned out delightfully. It was amazing. I had a question though…in the recipe you say bake for 1 hour, 35 minutes…was that 1 hour for a regular oven and 35 min for the convection? (sorry if that’s a stupid question but I checked mine after a little over an hour and it was done).

  11. This week is “no grocery shopping week” at my house…BUT…we ARE having the neighbors over tomorrow and that DOES look about as delicious as they come…so I MAY have to break the rule and buy two bartlett pears (I think I have the rest)…does it count as breaking the rule if I HAPPEN to be at Costco for non-food items and I happen to have some pears fall in my cart…I’m just saying! Seriously, it’s almost midnight and my tummy is growling…..YUMMY!

  12. This was delicious and a hit for my entertaining dinner last night. A little dry because I cooked it 8 min. longer becasue the middle seemed to be caving in although it tested done at 60 min. Thank you for the cookie sheet hint – the butter did melt. But everyone liked it and it was pretty. Thank you for the recipe. Fall and Fall foods are my favorites.

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