Pear Layer Cake · GF (one 8" layer cake )

I developed this recipe to make use of a few crates of tiny, rock hard winter pears a farmer gifted to the restaurant where I worked. Don’t even try to make this with ripe pears, they’ll just turn into a weird puree as you squeeze them and will make a soggy, unfortunate cake. So, one more time: hard, under ripe pears. Any type, so long as they’re firm.

Homespun cake

24 ounces of under-ripe pears, scrubbed but not peeled

1 ½ tsp soda
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ kosher salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ nutmeg
⅜ cloves
¾ tsp ginger
7 ounces sugar
3 ½ ounces brown sugar
3 eggs
4 ounces safflower oil
2 ounces melted butter (you can use all oil for a lactose free version)
8 ounces all purpose flour, sifted (use buckwheat flour for gluten free)
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
8 ounces pecans, lightly toasted

1/2 batch Caramel Pear Buttercream

Preheat the oven to 350° and line 3, 8” cake pans with parchment paper. Lightly grease and flour them, and set aside.

Core and shred the pears, using a box grater or the shredding attachment on a CuisinArt or some other gadget. Next, gather the shreds up in a large chunk of triple thick cheesecloth or a clean, thin dishtowel. Squeeze until you’ve extracted nearly ½ cup of juice or about 6 ounces. Alternately, use a potato ricer to squeeze the pear shreds.

Save the juice to make Pear Caramel for the Caramel Pear Buttercream.

Now, onto the recipe itself.

Using a hand mixer or the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, beat together the eggs and sugar, along with all the spices, until they’re light and fluffy. About five minutes. Then slowly drizzle in the oil, melted butter, and vanilla while the mixer keeps running. Turn the speed down to low, and add in the flour all at once, mixing until just incorporated.

Stir in the pecans and the shredded pear and you’re done!

Measure out a pound of batter into 3, 8” cake pans, each lined with parchment, greased, and lightly floured. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes, or until the cakes have puffed and lightly browned.

Cool thoroughly before applying the Caramel Pear Buttercream. Check out my crumb coating tutorial for more details on how to frost the cake.

For more information on how to store cakes, see this post from the Kitchn.


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Any questions?

Feb 24, 2011 · 10:39 PM

Lovely picture!! Pear are some of my favorite fruits, but this is a way to use some of those that you know won’t ripen well. Nicely done!!

 · Kim - Liv Life ·

Feb 24, 2011 · 11:10 PM


 · Caitlin ·

Feb 25, 2011 ·  1:37 AM

So beautiful! That cake looks absolutely delish, and your pictures are gorgeous!

 · The Farmers Wife ·

Feb 25, 2011 ·  2:45 AM

Wow, the photos look amazing and pears with caramel is an amazing combination! Congrats on appearing on Foodgawker!

 · The Cilantropist ·

Feb 25, 2011 ·  8:41 AM

Wow, gorgeous cake!!! No wonder Foodgawker loved it…fabulous!!!

 · Liz · http://www.thatskinnychickcanbake.blogspot.comw

Feb 25, 2011 · 10:01 AM

@Kim, I came up with this recipe as a way to use up those stubbornly unripe pears. They are the ideal sort to use. I hope you give it a shot!

Thanks for the kind words everyone. Post again if you ever try the recipe, I’d love to hear about it.


Feb 25, 2011 · 10:31 AM

That looks really amazing, I have never had a pear cake. What a fabulous idea though!

 · RavieNomNoms ·

Feb 25, 2011 · 12:25 PM

I went to the link for Caramel Pear Buttercream…but can’t seem to find a reference to the pear juice. What the heck am I missing????? Don’t get me wrong…I’m good with plain old Caramel Buttercream…but now I NEED to know when to add the pear juice!!!!!!

 · Linda · 

Feb 25, 2011 ·  2:39 PM

Oh my goodness I wish I could make such a beautiful layer cake!

 · CaffeIna ·

Feb 25, 2011 ·  2:52 PM

Can’t remember ever having a pear cake. torte, yes, but never a cake. That situation will be remedied immediately,this looks delicious!

 · Cheryl and Adam ·

Feb 25, 2011 ·  3:04 PM

@Linda, sorry for the confusion! In my recipe for the caramel buttercream, it will send you to my recipe for caramel, which is one of the ingredients. The caramel recipe has the instructions for how to make pear caramel. I can see how that’s a little head scratching! When I get home from work, I’ll edit for clarity.

So, to reiterate: follow the link to my caramel recipe (the link is in the caramel buttercream recipe) make the pear juice caramel variation, and then use that caramel in the buttercream. Hmmm, I wonder if I can come up with any more hoops for you to jump through….


Feb 28, 2011 ·  3:09 PM

Amazing job on this cake. It sounds just sinfully delicious. I love the pear and caramel combination.

 · briarrose ·

Nov 05, 2012 · 10:48 AM

Hey stella , this sounds so yum! Is it possible to substitute the pear for apple ?

 · red pink · 

Nov 05, 2012 ·  4:08 PM

Hi red pink! Absolutely. Just look for super-green apples that are very firm. They may give off more juice than pears, but as long as you squeeze out the amount in the recipe, you should be fine. Let me know how you like it!


Nov 19, 2012 · 11:36 PM

Hi Stella, I can’t wait to bake up this cake…possibly in the cupcake form. If I can’t find safflower oil what would you recommend for substitution?

 · Kate · 

Nov 20, 2012 ·  8:53 AM

Hi Kate! You can use any neutral flavored oil, like peanut or almond. I don’t like canola oil because I think it has an off taste, but not everyone agrees. You could also use a flavored oil, like walnut or hazelnut or even pecan if you like. Happy baking!


Nov 30, 2012 · 12:41 PM

Ok, so I tried using egg replacer in the cake mix and it did hold together at all. The combination of the gluten free flour and no real eggs was a mess. The icing though…it’s like eating a caramel covered stick of butter. Sinfully Delicious! I’ll try again with real eggs and hope for the best. Thanks for this recipe.

 · Christina ·

Dec 01, 2012 ·  8:06 PM

Hi Christina. Oh no! What a mess. Glad the frosting turned out to suit, though! I always recommend, when experimenting with a new-to-you recipe, to only make one change at a time. That way if there’s a problem you’ll know exactly why. Hope the next round treats you well!


May 18, 2013 ·  8:38 PM

We don’t hear from christina how everything goes…i will try it.

 · Peter ·

May 18, 2013 · 10:04 PM

Hi Peter! I think so long as you use real eggs you shouldn’t have any trouble. I haven’t tried any of my recipes with egg replacer, so I just don’t know how it will change the outcome of the final dessert…


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 · Georges Sadala ·

Sep 24, 2017 ·  3:19 PM

Great way to use pears. Thank you so much for the recipe, dear Stella!
I made the cake with caramel mousseline cream. I baked it in a half sheet pan for 25 min and cut into 3 rectangles for assembly.
It reminded me of a carrot cake (probably because of similar spices and pecans). Cream is to die for. Cake itself is very moist.
If I do it again, I would experiment and make the batter from recipe for pear, ginger and olive cake of Sarit Packer (from her loaf recipe) and just double it. It asks for a lot of pears too and come out quite exotic.

 · Maria · 

Oct 07, 2017 · 11:17 PM

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 · loemrntdherid1 ·


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