This is one of my FAVORITE desserts in all of the world and those of you who know my appreciation for dessert know that’s really saying something. I make this cake a lot through the fall and early-winter when pears are everywhere. It isn’t the quickest cake to make (especially if you opt to make the candied pear slices for garnish) but it turns out perfectly every time and I’ve never met someone who didn’t love it instantly.
It’s really a basic applesauce cake except made with pears instead of apples. This means you have to make your own pear sauce, but it’s a cinch. You chop up a bunch of ripe Bartlett pears and cook them with some browned sugar (you essentially melt some white sugar in the saucepan prior to adding the pears and let it start to turn golden).
The pears soften considerably and release their liquid. You smash it all up using a potato masher and end up with a chunky pearsauce with a rich burnt sugar flavor.
The rest of the cake ingredients are pretty basic and the pearsauce goes in at the very end. Sometimes I’ll reserve a cup of the pearsauce (there’s always some leftover) for garnish on the finished cake.
The MSBH recipe for this cake includes instructions for candied pear slices. Another of Martha’s embellishments that takes a little time and some special kitchen equipment. You start with fresh Bartlett pear and use a mandolin to slice paper-thin pieces.
I think using a pear with a really colorful peel would have been optimal, as the peel retains its color throughout the process. In any event, you douse the slices with lemon juice and then boil in simple syrup for 2 minutes.
The slices are then baked in a low oven until completely dry. I think I over-baked these by about 10 minutes; they are much darker than they should have been. They taste good though, like a subtle pear Jolly Rancher.
One of the things I love most about a good bundt cake is the thick, sugary crust the cake develops. It’s not dry or overly crunchy, but it still has some resistance when you bite in to it. And it also keeps the cake so moist.
I made the recommended Cream Cheese Glaze, although I should have added more milk to the glaze – mine was too thick to drizzle properly, but that’s a small criticism. It tasted great and the candied pears were a fancy addition.
I cannot think of anything I don’t like about this cake. It is dense, moist, and the taste of pears, cardamom, and cinnamon well together.