Pear and Cardamom Spice Cake

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 2 T milk
  • crushed seeds from 2 cardamom pods
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 T poppy seeds
  • 1 1/4 lbs dessert pears, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

For Decoration: 3 walnut halves, reserved pear slices, 3 T clear honey

Equipment Needed: wax paper, 8″ loose-bottom round cake pan

Storing: Keeps in an airtight container for several days.

Freezing: Recommended. Wrap and freeze, defrost at room temperature.

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and base line the pan with wax paper.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and light. Gradually beat in the eggs, a little at a time, until incorporated. Sift the flour and baking powder together, and fold in with the milk.

3. Stir in the cardamom, chopped nuts, and poppy seeds. Reserve one-third of the pear slices, and chop the rest. Fold the chopped pears into the creamed mixture.

4. Transfer to the prepared pan. Smooth the surface, making a small dip the center.

5. Place the three walnut halves in the center of the cake mixture, and fan the reserved pear slices around the walnuts, covering the cake mixture. Bake for 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours, or until a skewer, inserted in the center, comes out clean.

6. Remove the cake from the oven and brush with the clear honey. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 8-12 servings

From The Ultimate Cake Decorator

Notes: We used a spring form pan and Bartlett pears. The Bartletts were on sale, and we had no luck figuring out what “dessert pears” were.

Katie: This was a delicious cake! It wasn’t overly sweet and the pears tasted great in it. We did not like the pears on top, though. They were kind of hard. Surprisingly, it did not go smoothly in the preparation stage. The recipe did not specify softened or cold butter, and so I used mostly cold butter. (I let it sit on the counter while I got all the other ingredients ready.) I read somewhere that the reason that people started using softened butter was because hand mixer motors could not handle the cold, hard butter, and so the recipes were adapted or written with softened butter. The article said that cold butter sometimes made superior goods, so I decided to try it. I don’t know if it was my cold butter or what exactly caused mine to be troublesome. The butter creamed with the powdered sugar okay. I had to scrape the bowl a few times, but it did well. When I started adding the eggs, the egg did not want to incorporate into the butter/sugar mixture. I don’t know how many times I scrapped the bowl or stirred by hand. After trying everything I could think of, it still looked sorta like curdled milk. I decided to continue on in the hopes it would turn out. The next direction was to fold the flour in with the milk. At first I could fold the flour in, but it soon became too thick. I could not find any utensil that would mix it correctly, and since it seemed more like dough, I decided to use my hands and mix that way. Sorta kneading everything worked well. After I got the flour all mixed in, I put the rest of the ingredients in and mixed them all in the dough/batter. I just picked it up like a dough ball and pressed it into the pan. Our only hope for the pears on top is that the honey will soak in some and tomorrow they might be edible. We will see!

Gray:  I thought it turned out well, and looked like the picture in the book.  This is a nicely off-sweet cake.  I think it would be good for tea or coffee, but not a children’s party.  It tastes good even if it was a little strange to make.

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