A showstopper cake that’s moist, fragrant and perfectly light. This pear, cardamom & chocolate loaf cake is bound to be your new favourite!
Poached pears are one of my favourite additions to any bake, (this delicious tart is still a family favourite!) but adding them to cake was a new adventure for me! The pears are so moist and lightly spiced with cardamom, and the cake is super light and tender – chocolate and cardamom – perfect for Autumn! I just love how it looks with the pear stalks just sticking out of the batter – it’s a showstopper for sure!
Key Ingredients You’ll Need
- Conference Pears – The poached pears really are the star of the cake, so you need to take abit of time choosing the right ones! You want pears that are evenly sized so they poach for the same length of time, and that also have a nice long stalk – purely for aesthetics!
- Cardamom – You need cardamom pods for the poaching syrup, and ground cardamom for the actual cake. The easy route to this is to buy the pods and ground spice separately, but you can also just use the pods and grind the seeds down to use in the cake. It’s quite a strong flavour, so you only need a little!
- Cocoa Powder – This is how we turn our delicious cake into a chocolatey dream! I know there is always debate over whether pure melted chocolate or cocoa powder makes the best chocolate cake. But I think in this instance, when you have other flavours to include, cocoa powder is best!
How to make pear, cardamom & chocolate loaf cake
Though the loaf cake looks quite fancy, it really is quite simple to put together, you just need to make sure you set aside time to poach the pears first. You’ll need a large saucepan for the poaching and a 2lb loaf tin for this bake!
How to poach the pears
Poaching pears is always done in a saucepan with a liquid (i.e. water/wine/juice), sugar and flavour agents (i.e. spices/citrus peel). In this case we are using water, caster sugar, lemon peel, cardamom pods, lemon juice and of course the pears!
To prepare the pears, you need to peel them, but keep the stalk intact! And then core them. This is a little fiddly, as we’re not cutting the pears in half! So here’s how I did it;
- First, cut off the base of the pear so it sits flat upright.
- Then using an apple corer (or just a small knife), push through into the pear base to create a hole. The core won’t actually come out with the apple corer, as you’re not going all the way though the pear.
- Then using the handle of a teaspoon, ‘dig’ out the core and the seeds. It’s hard to explain, but it will be intuitive when you’re doing it!
- You’ll end up with the whole pear, with a small cavity from the base.
Once all three pears are peeled and cored, you can begin poaching. Poaching should take about 15-20 minutes, it will depend a little on the size of your pears. So after 15 minutes, you want to check how tender they are by just inserting a knife. You want it to be easy to push a knife in, but not so tender that they’re falling apart.
Once they’re ready, you need to drain the pears so they aren’t adding too much moisture to your cake batter! I found placing them upright on a cooling rack (over a baking tray to catch drips!) worked well, and they can drain whilst you make the cake batter!
How to make the loaf cake
The cake batter is a really simple cake, by the usual creaming method. Of course you need to start with room temperature butter! This will make for a much more tender cake, and will be easier to combine at the batter stage.
The butter and sugar should be beaten together with an electric whisk – this will add air into your cake, keeping it light! Then the eggs are added one by one – making sure they’re well combined between each addition. Then you can add your dry ingredients, and finally the milk. As I said, super simple!!
Assembling the cake
So, you have your poached pears and your cake batter ready. First step, is to line your loaf tin with baking paper, leaving an overhang to use as handles – this will make your life so much easier when it comes to turning the cake out! Then place your pears into the tin. Choose the order intentionally – i.e. I put the biggest pear in the middle, and had the stems facing alternate ways to make it look more interesting!
Then spoon the batter around the pears, making sure to get between them and around the sides. The batter is quite thick, so I found it helped to tap the tin on your work surface a few times to make sure the batter is sinking down to the bottom of the tin, and you don’t have any gaps!
Then you’re ready for a slow bake, around one hour – and your kitchen will smell delicious!
Tips & Tricks
Yes! Personally, I always find loaf cakes taste better the day after baking once the flavours have had a chance to develop. You can also poach the pears in advance and keep them in their poaching liquid in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Yes, but for poaching place the ground cardamom in a muslin bag so it doesn’t stick to all of the pears. We don’t want the cardamom flavour to be too overpowering, as it is very strong.
First of all, you want to start with pears that aren’t yet ripe. Ripe pears will fall apart too easily! The pears should be poached for around 15-20 minutes, the exact amount of time will depend on how big your pears are. But 15 minutes is a good marker, and from then you can test the pears by inserting a knife. They are done when it is easy to insert the knife, but the pear doesn’t break easily.
I love how pretty this cake turned out, with the little pear stalks poking out of the cake! And love how a slice looks with tender chocolate & cardamom cake surrounding the moist poached pear. Just delicious! And super simple to make. I really hope you love this pear, cardamom & chocolate loaf cake too!
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Pear, Cardamom & Chocolate Loaf Cake
- 225 g caster sugar
- 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp cardamom pods
- 3 conference pears
- 190 g unsalted butter room temperature
- 190 g soft light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 190 g plain flour
- 30 g cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cardamom (1tbsp cardamom pods, seeds removed and ground)
- 1 tbsp milk whole or semi-skimmed
- For the pears: Pour 750ml water and the caster sugar into a medium pan. Then, using a sharp knife cut off five strips of lemon zest and add to the pan. Slightly crush the cardamom pods, (enough to crack them but not release the seeds) and also add to the pan. Squeeze the lemon juice into a medium bowl. Cut the base off of the pears to give them a flat bottom, then peel leaving the stalk intact. Then core using an apple corer and spoon to get the seeds out. Place them into the bowl of lemon juice as you work, to prevent them from browning. Meanwhile bring the sugar mixture to a gentle simmer over a medium heat, then add the pears and lemon juice to the pan and poach for 15-20 minutes until tender. Remove the pan from the heat and place the pears on a cooling rack set over a baking tray to drain. Then set aside while you prepare the cake.
- For the cake: Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin and preheat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/Gas Mark 3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together using an electric whisk. Then add the eggs, one by one, mixing well between each addition. Mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, and then add to the wet batter in two batches. Mixing only until just combined. Finally, stir in the milk until combined.
- To assemble: Place the pears upright in the prepared tin, then spoon the batter around the pears. Bake for 1hr-1hr 5mins, until a skewer comes out almost clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the tin, and then remove and place onto a cooling rack to cool completely.