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A pear cake is a type of fruit cake made with fresh pears. Often made in a bundt pan, a pear cake usually has spices and may contain nuts, usually pecans or walnuts. A simple vanilla or caramel glaze frequently tops these cakes. Although pear cake is sometimes served in restaurants, it is more often made at home.
As with all cakes, pear cakes are made with sugar, flour, and baking powder or baking soda. Depending on the recipe, they may contain just egg whites or whole eggs, and usually include salt and vanilla extract. No matter the recipe, fresh ripe pears, which are peeled, cored, and chopped, are a necessity for this dessert.
Cinnamon is often added to pear cake batter. Other spices, like nutmeg or cloves may also be added. Brown sugar, in addition to white sugar, is included in some recipes.
This dessert may be made from an entirely different cake base as well. For example, including pears in a gingerbread cake creates a gingerbread pear cake. Gingerbread cakes include molasses and ginger, as well as dark brown sugar, cinnamon, and allspice.
Another popular variation is a chocolate-pear cake, which includes chopped bits of semi-sweet chocolate as well as pear pieces. Chocolate-pear cakes usually do not include the same spices as those without chocolate. They are also more often served with whipped cream or ice cream rather than a glaze.
In most pear cake recipes, the chopped pears are coated in sugar and allowed to sit for up to an hour. Afterward, the flour, spices, and baking soda or powder are combined separately, and the remaining ingredients are stirred in with the pear-sugar mixture. Then both the flour mixture and the pear mixture are combined to make the batter.
Some recipes, however, like those for chocolate-pear and gingerbread pear cake, do not instruct the baker to coat the pears in sugar first. Instead, these cakes are made as they would be without the pears, and then the pears, and the chocolate, are place on the top of the batter after it is in the baking pan. The cake will rise in the oven, but the pears will not, so the fruit ends up in the middle of the cake.
The simple glazes which often top these desserts are usually made with a combination of brown sugar, milk, and butter. They may have an additional flavoring added, like vanilla, as well. Making a glaze mostly consists of thoroughly mixing and heating or melting the ingredients.