Poached Pear Cardamom Cake
If you’re as much of a pear-cardamom combo lover as I am, then you simply must make this loaf cake. As I always like to say, this cake is pretty easy to make. No, it really is. The pears are poached in Port wine (or red wine) and honey, along with lemon peel and cardamom pods for flavour. The batter is made by creaming eggs with sugar, after which olive oil, orange juice, flour and spices (cardamom again) are added and then everything gets poured in a loaf pan, the pears get dunked in and voilà, Poached Pear Cardamom Cake!
The end result is a moist and flavourful cake with a hint of boozy pears. It’s not too sweet and it’s pretty light. I think it goes really nice with a cup of Roiboos or why not, more Port wine. You can play around with the spices, ginger and cinnamon work really nice with pears. And in case you don’t have Port wine (fortified wine) on hand, just use red wine instead, but double the amount of alcohol and reduce water by half.
Whatever combination you decide to make, I do hope you give this recipe a try, I’m sure you’ll love it and your family and friends will thank you; maybe don’t give this to kids though, since the pears are pretty boozy.
Poached Pear Cardamom Cake
For the poached pears:
3 pears, firm and not fully ripe
200ml/7 oz. Port wine (or 400ml/14 oz. red wine)
500ml/2 cups water
Seeds from 10 cardamom pods
Large strips of lemon peel from one lemon
Juice from half a lemon
Place the port, water, honey, lemon peel, lemon juice and cardamom pods in a deep saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Meanwhile, peel the pears, leaving the stems on. Using a small spoon, slowly hollow out the core and seeds through the bottom.
Gently place the pears in the saucepan, lower the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, turning the pears gently so that they get evenly coloured and flavoured. The pears are done when they are tender if pierced with a sharp knife. Do not overcook. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the saucepan, then gently transfer to a cutting board.
For the cake:
250g/1¼ cup coconut sugar (brown sugar is also fine)
400g/3 cups flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp seeds from cardamom pods, freshly ground (in a mortar and pestle) OR 1 tsp cardamom powder
175ml/¾ cup olive oil
175ml/¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about two oranges)
½ tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract or seeds scraped from one pod
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or using a hand-held mixer, cream the eggs and the sugar until fluffy and creamy, about 6 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and cardamom.
Add olive oil, orange juice and grated ginger to the bowl with the eggs and mix until well combined. Add the flour mixture and mix with a spatula or a wooden spoon just until combined. Do not overmix.
Pour batter in prepared pan, set pears in batter and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. Test to see if it’s done by inserting a toothpick in the cake; it is done when the toothpick emerges clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and remove from the loaf pan after 10 minutes.
For optimal moisture, carefully wrap the cake in cling film while still warm and allow to cool for about 4 hours before unwrapping and serving. If you do not have 4 hours and you’re weirded out by the idea of wrapping it in cling film, simply let it cool to room temperature in pan, then transfer to a platter and serve.