Pear Spice Cake with Toasted Walnuts

by Marla on November 4, 2010 · 61 comments

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Organic Thanksgiving holiday fruit cake with pear, walnuts and cornmeal.

Ready, set, go! We have launched into Thanksgiving mode. Good bye Halloween, hello Turkey and trimmings. Over here we have all the Fall spices lined up and ready for action. Today I bring you pear cake. OMG. I came up with this cake to pay tribute to all of the beautiful pears I have been seeing at the markets. From green & ruby red d’Anjou pears, to Bartlett or Comice…..whatever pear you choose happiness is guaranteed.

Organic pears for holiday Thanksgiving cake recipe.

Apples usually take center stage this time of year. We love them for applesauce, cider, pies, and eaten whole as a snack. Now it is time to give pears the love they deserve. For this cake I made a pear sauce. A unique cousin to the apple version. At first I was just going to cut the pears into chunks and add them to the batter & then I switched gears.

Thanksgiving Pear fruit cinnamon, ginger cake for the home chef.

I wanted each and every bite to be infused with pear, spices and flavor. The pear sauce was a great idea. It helped to make this cake very moist.

Homemade pear cake recipe for the home chef.

Instead of using all flour I used half medium grind cornmeal. It added both to the texture & flavor of this cake. Our cake could have baked a bit longer, but the center had a pudding like texture that was creamy & indulgent.

Homemade pear cake with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

This cake is perfect for dessert, breakfast, brunch or snacking. Great for the lunchbox too!

Pear cake with homemade whipped cream, chocolate sauce and walnuts.

Serve some up at your Thanksgiving feast or enjoy on your own with a steamy cup of coffee. My Pear Spice Cake is guilt free. Loaded with whole grains, fruit and nuts. You can also get a bit sassy & top a slice with chocolate sauce & whipped cream. You can also go a bit lighter with slightly sweetened Thick Greek Yogurt.

Healthy cake for Thanksgiving and Fall holiday parties.

What are your favorite cakes to serve for Thanksgiving? How do you like to use pears in baking?

Pear Spice Cake with Walnuts

Makes about 10-12  servings


  • I highly suggest you toast your nuts before you use them. Doing this adds so much to the flavor & texture of baked treats.
  • This cake will be good stored at room temperature for a day or two. After that wrap it up and put in the fridge. You can freeze some too.


  • 3 Pears cleaned and roughly chopped, remove core & keep skin on – use your favorite variety or mix a few (you will use one cup of this sauce)
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons White Whole Wheat flour  -or- Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 cup medium grind Cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup chopped, toasted Walnuts
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon Stevia Powder or to taste
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1 cup Milk (I like fat free)
  • 1 cup Pear Sauce (from above)
  • 2 tablespoons melted Unsalted Butter
  • chopped crystal or Candied Ginger for topping
  • Optional: whipped cream & chocolate sauce


Toasted Nuts: Preheat oven to 350˚F with the rack in the center. Chop nuts to the size you want them & arrange on a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, tossing once or twice to toast evenly. Toast until slightly browned and fragrant.

Pear Sauce: Wash and roughly cube pears. I left the skin on for added nutrients. Place pears in a medium sauce pan with water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat & partially cover with a lid. Reduce to a simmer for about 25-30 minutes. Let cool a bit and purée in a food processor or blender.

Pear Cake: Preheat oven to 400˚F with the rack in the center. Grease or line a 8″ round cake pan with parchment paper. Sift all of the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Combine the wet ingredients in another bowl. With a spatula, stir to combine the wet and dry ingredients in one bowl. Coat 1/2 cup walnuts with 2 tablespoons of flour. Add to the batter and stir gently to combine. Put the batter in the cake pan and top with additional walnuts and candied ginger pieces. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Carefully flip out of pan, remove parchment and flip again so nuts are on the top. Serve with whipped cream, thick greek yogurt and/or chocolate sauce.

Chocolate Sauce

Take a few tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder & make a sauce with a little boiling hot water. Stir in some vanilla stevia drops or your favorite natural sweetener to taste.

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  • Any other nut would be great in this recipe: almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia, pecans, etc.
  • Instead of pear, you could use apples or a combo of both.
  • Add some dried fruit to the batter and to top this cake. Raisins, cranberries, blueberries, diced apricots would be a fun twist.
  • Add some chocolate shavings to the top of a cooled cake.

Pear Cake Recipe Links

{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Heavenly Housewife November 4, 2010 at 5:55 am

My goodness, this looks positively spectacular! What time should I come over for afternoon tea daaaaaahling?
*kisses* HH


2 Marla November 4, 2010 at 6:15 am

Miss Heavenly Housewife: Teatime anytime with you my love!

Jenny: Yes, chocolate always kicks it up a notch!


3 Jenny Flake November 4, 2010 at 6:11 am

This looks so beautiful Marla!! I would have sooooo gone to the chocolate level too :) Gorgeous photos!!


4 the urban baker November 4, 2010 at 6:24 am

Just last night, my girlfriend asked me for a pear recipe! I am sending her your way. This looks absolutely delicious. I am coming to your house, for dessert, on Thanksgiving!


5 Maria November 4, 2010 at 6:24 am

Gorgeous cake and photos! So glad you went there too:)


6 srithasan November 4, 2010 at 6:31 am

Lovely Fruity Spicy Cake with Walnuts..


7 Jessica @ How Sweet November 4, 2010 at 6:37 am

How pretty Mmmmm this cake sounds delicious!


8 Robyn November 4, 2010 at 6:41 am

Just gorgeous, Marla! And the chocolate? Ummm – definitely!


9 Katrina November 4, 2010 at 6:43 am

This cake looks delicious!! Thanks!


10 Katie | goodLife {eats} November 4, 2010 at 6:43 am

Oh my gosh, this looks amazing, Marla! I wish I had a piece for breakfast right now. I have some pears for another recipe I need to make, but I might be tempted to make this instead. YIKES!


11 Rosa November 4, 2010 at 7:23 am

A gorgeous cake and combo! Now, I’m drooling…




12 Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets November 4, 2010 at 7:44 am

What a delicious fall cake!


13 UrMomCooks November 4, 2010 at 8:00 am

What a delightful pear cake! Thanks for the link to the pear cake I made a few weeks back! Very much enjoyed your site – I’ll be back!


14 Heather November 4, 2010 at 8:23 am

Delicious! That first photo- wow. Looks like it came strait from the pages of a magazine. Beautiful as usual!


15 Liz November 4, 2010 at 8:54 am

Oh my, I totally want to skip right past my lunch today and dig right into this!


16 Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking November 4, 2010 at 9:23 am

I’ve never baked much with pears, but this incredible cake has sure influenced me to start! This is absolutely gorgeous, Marla, and with chocolate sauce? Yes, I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. Thanks for sharing!


17 judy meridith November 4, 2010 at 9:34 am

Marla, this is a must try recipe. I sounds just too good for me to resist.


18 FoodFitnessFreshair November 4, 2010 at 9:51 am

Beautiful photos. I love pears. I don’t bake with them too often either. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I have baked with them. But baked, with the chocolate sauce and ice cream, this looks divine!


19 Marla November 4, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Grace: I gotta add ice cream as a choice top heap alongside a slice of this cake. My, my that would be good.

Lizzy: You could have this cake for lunch & not feel a bit of guilt. Just try to stick to one slice, thats the tricky part!

Heather & UrMomCooks: Always a great pleasure to link to other hard working bloggers and excellent recipes!


20 Faith November 4, 2010 at 9:58 am

Your cake is stunning, Marla! It would really be a gorgeous addition to Thanksgiving dessert, but I really don’t think I can wait until Thanksgiving to make it. :) With a nice dollop of Greek yogurt and a cup if tea it would also be an amazing breakfast!


21 My Man's Belly November 4, 2010 at 10:52 am

Isn’t everything better with a bit of chocolate?

I’m with Faith…this is a breakfast waiting to happen.


22 Gaby @ What's Gaby Cooking November 4, 2010 at 10:54 am

omg Marla. Obsessing over this cake!! Can’t wait to make it for my clients this week :)


23 Angie's Recipes November 4, 2010 at 10:56 am

Marla, this is one GREAT looking spiced cake!


24 Kristen November 4, 2010 at 1:46 pm

How delicious is this? Yummmm!!! Love your photos, girl!


25 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. November 4, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Wow! This looks incredible. My mouth is totally watering!


26 fooddreamer November 4, 2010 at 4:51 pm

That cake is just beautiful. I love the addition of cornmeal for texture! I have been remiss in checking out your blog, it’s been a busy few weeks.


27 megan @ whatmegansmaking November 4, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Beautiful! Seriously, the cake looks amazing the the pictures are perfect. I totally want to make this!


28 Sara November 4, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Marla love the Pear Spice Cake my dear, I wish I had a piece right now!!! Yum!


29 Fiona November 4, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Hi Marla, I noticed that you attached a link to my Caramel pear upside down cake. Just wanted to say “Thanks” for choosing mine to link to. I love your site and your photos are great. I also love your version of pear cake and can’t wait to try it. Fiona


30 Cherine November 5, 2010 at 12:51 am

This cake is irresistible with all those nuts!


31 Marla November 5, 2010 at 5:19 am

Cherine: Those toasted walnuts really do make this cake! I toasted some up this morning for breakfast and the nuts were enhanced even more.

Fiona: Your Caramel Pear Upside Down Cake looks amazing! Well worth the link, I am sure my readers will love it!

Claudia: If you guys are not fans of pears, I say just go with the apples. The results will be the same I am sure!


32 FOODESSA November 5, 2010 at 5:40 am

Marla…with all those wonderful ingredients…how could one not take the extra time and try getting this done…well worth it for sure. Although we’re not pear fans at my place…I can see how having this cake could not make the liking of pears grow on us ;o)

Beautiful baking and stunning photography Marla!

Flavourful wishes,


33 Heather @ Multiply Delicious November 5, 2010 at 6:53 am

Heavenly! What a beautiful cake and I love the photo’s Marla. You won’t feel guilty eating this cake either with all the whole grains. Love it! Pears are a household favorite. My girls call them “parrots” they can’t seem to get that they are actually called “pears”. I enjoy hearing them say “parrots” though. Makes me laugh every time. I’ll have to let them know we are going to have to try Parrot Cake soon. :) Have a great weekend Marla!


34 Marla November 5, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Heather: “Parrots” is amazing! You will always remember that. Yes, I do believe some “parrot” cake is in order. You will also be happy ’cause there are no hideous sugar crashes involved!

Elana: Thanks for stopping by. You and I must connect. I spent quite some time on your blog today & I love it. Loads of great recipes that I must try. You have a very refined sensibility towards flavors, ingredients and nutrition. I also like the way you encourage your readers to experiment with what works best for them. Inviting intuitive cooking makes time in the kitchen much less intimidating.


35 blackbookkitchendiaries November 5, 2010 at 10:48 am

your pictures are just stunning and this cake is a must try. thanks for sharing this.


36 Elana November 5, 2010 at 11:49 am

This cake looks incredible! I wish I had chatted with you at Blogher Food –saw your presentation which was great :-)


37 Deliciously Organic November 5, 2010 at 1:43 pm

How gorgeous is this cake! Great photos! :)


38 Barbara @ Modern Comfort Food November 5, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Nice one, Marla, and I love the thought process that went into this gorgeous cake. Sometimes I feel all appled and pumpkined out this time of year, and pears are such a nice change of pace, whether fresh or baked in cake form as you’ve done here. Pearsauce (note to self: make some!) is such a great idea here for a moist cake, and the spices and walnuts are just a perfect flavor match. Love it!


39 Betty @ scrambled hen fruit November 5, 2010 at 10:36 pm

I’m definitely going there! That pear Spice cake looks so good, and it also looks like something I won’t feel guilty about serving! This recipe is going into my “must try” file for sure. :) Thanks!


40 Amy November 6, 2010 at 1:40 pm

I never have served cake for Thanksgiving, but this one I might try! Thanks for the recipe. Only dessert I’ve ever made for Thanksgiving is Pumpkin pie. We’re kind of boring like that :)


41 Marla November 6, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Amy: Pumpkin Pie is NEVER boring! But I have to tell you, this pear cake tastes just like a coffee cake. Not only would it be yummy to serve guests, but it is perfect for breakfast the morning after holiday festivities!


42 Courtney November 6, 2010 at 6:10 pm

I have never baked anything with pears, there’s a first for everything! This looks awesome :)


43 Marla November 6, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Courtney: I am sure you would be very pleased. Other than pear sauce I had never baked with them either, well worth it girl!


44 Lentil Breakdown November 6, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Yum! Have been wanting to make a pear and almond cake, but this looks even better! Love the cornmeal addition.


45 Anna Johnston November 7, 2010 at 1:08 pm

How interesting, it looks great too, think I’m going to have to make this one for sure.


46 Michelle November 7, 2010 at 4:15 pm

What a delicious way to showcase pears! Looks and sounds delicious!


47 Jessica @ bake me away! November 7, 2010 at 8:22 pm

This looks so pretty! I don’t think I’ve ever had pear cake or pear bread…I’m missing out!


48 Von November 8, 2010 at 2:56 am

I’ve never used pears in baking before- I usually just eat them because I love eating pears so much! haha……actually, that’s the same for most fruits =) This cake sounds delicious though- and your pears look lovely!! I love the idea of using pear sauce in the cake. I can just imagine how good this tastes!


49 Marla November 8, 2010 at 3:46 am

Von: I have been using so much fruit in sauces & baking that I have been hardly munching on ’em as is! With all of my recipes and my kids grabbing all the fresh produce the minute it comes in the door I can’t keep up! Yes, I think you need to buy enough pears to eat & bake with.


50 Cathy B. @ Bright Bakes November 8, 2010 at 1:37 pm

First time visiting…followed you over from Tasty Kitchen, because, wow, this recipe pulled me right in! Love pears and love healthy hearty grains…and love coffee cake! :)
cathy b. @ brightbakes


51 Marla November 8, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Cathy B: I am so happy you found me over at Tasty Kitchen. That was my first recipe submission over there. I do hope you get to try my pear coffee cake, it is addictive. I must make another one over here very soon!


52 Shelly November 8, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Marla! This edible cake is realy incrEdible and looks v.v unique.


53 Cara November 10, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Hey Marla, this sounds absolutely delicious! I love that it uses hardly any fat (I keep scanning to see if I’ve missed something!) and can be sweetened with just stevia. I’ll have to give it a shot :) thank you!


54 grace November 12, 2010 at 2:30 am

what a perfect fall treat, marla! i can see myself licking my plate clean.


55 The Food Hunter November 12, 2010 at 10:04 am

A slice of heaven indeed.


56 Allison April 29, 2012 at 10:45 am

pears are SO under-rated – this recipe is going on my “must try for Thanksgiving” list!


57 Sharan October 2, 2013 at 10:02 am

I want to make this cake for my grandmother who was just diagnosed as is there something i could substitute for the cornmeal that has a lower glycemic index?


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