This rustic, no-fuss, easy pear cake recipe is baked in a cast iron skillet with thin slices of sweet, juicy pears baked right into the top of the cake. I love to serve it warm right from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert but it also makes the perfect breakfast cake to pair with a cup of tea. The moist cake is loaded with warm spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove plus vanilla bean and orange zest for extra flavor.
The vegan spiced cake batter is made with simple ingredients and has a gorgeous tender crumb. It’s topped with pear slices, similar to my cozy fall spiced apple cake recipe. This simple pear cake recipe comes together quickly and is mixed easily by hand – no electric mixer or special equipment is required. This family favorite recipe is the perfect dessert to enjoy throughout pear season.
Table of contents
Pears – Use sweet ripe pears for the best flavor. Any variety of fresh pears will work such as Bartlett pears or Anjou pears, but my favorite to cook or bake with are Bosc pears. You can also make this simple cake any time of year with canned pears in syrup. Substitutions: Substitute pears with other fall fruits like apple, Asian pear or quince. You can swap them with 1 cup of chopped fresh cranberries and mix them into the batter to make a cranberry orange cake.
Flour – All purpose flour produces a cake with a tender texture. Substitutions: I’ve also made this vegan pear cake with white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour and it came out great. Feel free to substitute some or all of the white flour add more whole grain to your diet. To make a gluten-free pear cake simply use a 1-1 gluten free flour blend like Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour.
Sugar – I like to use unrefined dark brown sugar like whole cane sugar (aka panela or rapadura) or coconut palm sugar to sweeten this soft cake because they have more depth of flavor that pairs well with all of the spices. Substitutions: Maple sugar would be excellent as well. Plain granulated white sugar or caster sugar or light or dark brown sugar will all work just fine too.
Non-dairy Milk – Use any plain unsweetened plant milk for this vegan pear cake. I prefer plain unsweetened soy milk, but any beverage-style non dairy milk like almond milk or oat milk will work fine for this recipe. Substitutions: Feel free to use regular milk if you enjoy dairy products.
Flax Meal – Ground flax seeds are used as an egg replacer and binder. Whisk the flax meal in with the milk to activate it. Substitutions: Feel free to add 1 large egg instead to make this pear cake the conventional way.
Oil – use any neutral flavored cooking oil like vegetable oil, extra-light olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil, grape seed oil. I like to bake with extra-light olive oil mostly. Substitutions: This cake will also taste great with a fruity extra-virgin olive oil to make an Italian pear cake. You can also use melted butter in place of the oil, but change the amount of butter to 75g (5 tbs or 1/3 cup).
Orange – Orange zest and fresh orange juice add a sweet citrus flavor that pairs so well with zingy pear. use any type or fresh oranges, mandarines or clementines for this cake mix. Substitutions: You can replace the orange flavor with other citrus fruits like lemon, lime, grapefruit or blood orange if you prefer. If you opt to skip adding orange juice then just replace it with more milk or even yogurt or sour cream.
Spices – The tender cake is spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, ground clove and ground ginger which give the cake a wonderful fall spice flavor. Substitutions: You can omit some of the spice and just add more cinnamon if you like or use an apple pie spice blend or pumpkin pie spice blend instead.
Vanilla – A touch of vanilla extract of vanilla paste rounds out the flavor of the cake and pairs well with the orange and spices. Substitutions: Try adding almond extract instead or in addition to the vanilla extract for a sweet nutty flavor.
See the full ingredient list and amounts in the recipe card below.
How to Make Spice Cake with Pears
Step 1: Prepare the Cake Ingredients
First start by preheating the oven and heating a cast iron skillet over medium heat on the stovetop.
In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup whisk the milk and flax meal together into a frothy mixture then whisk in the remaining wet ingredients including orange juice and zest, oil and vanilla.
Step 2: Prepare the Pear Slices
Peel and core a large ripe pear then thinly slice it. Set the pear slices aside while you mix the cake batter
Step 3: Make the Cake Batter
Pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture and stir them together with a rubber spatula until they are just incorporated into a smooth batter. Be careful not to over-mix the cake batter or it may result in a dense cake.
The skillet should be hot at this point. Swirl a tablespoon of oil or a pat of butter around in the hot skillet to coat its surface.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and gently shake the pan to help the batter spread out. The batter should gently sizzle as it hits the hot oiled pan. Quickly arrange pear slices on top of the batter and sprinkle the top of the pears with more sugar.
Step 4: Bake the Cake
Bake the cake in a preheated oven on the center rack until it’s golden brown on top, it comes away from the sides of the pan and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into its center.
When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and let the cake cool slightly in the pan for 10 minutes before cutting it. Serve the baked pear cake it warm or at room temperature with an optional dusting of powdered sugar.
Once the cake has cooled completely remove it from the skillet and store it in an airtight container or on a plate and wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for 1-2 days. For longer storage, refrigerate the cake in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Any ripe and firm pears can be used for baking. Bosc pears are great for cooking and baking and hold their shape well yet are soft and tender when cooked through.
Yes, pear cake can be frozen for longer storage. Simply wrap slices of the cake well with plastic wrap then store them in freezer bag, label the bag with the date and freeze the cake slices for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy the pear cake thaw it to room temperature or warm it up in a microwave, toaster oven , oven or air fryer before serving it.
You can tell when a pear is ripe when it has a sweet fragrance and is firm but will give slightly when its pressed between your fingers.
More Delicious Desserts
- Vegan Chai Spice Poached Pear Cake
- Maple Spice Cake with Wine Poached Pears
- Vegan Cranberry Pear Galette Recipe
- Apple Cake
- Vegan Hidden Rose Apple Galette
- Rustic Vegan Apple Crumble
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- 280 g all purpose flour 2 cups, or white whole wheat flour
- 200 g whole cane sugar 1 cup, or granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
- 240 g unsweetened non-dairy milk 1 cup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons flax meal
- 1 teaspoon orange zest from 1 orange
- 62 g fresh orange juice 1/4 cup
- 100 g olive oil 1/2 cup, or neutral tasting oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil for coating the pan or butter
- Preheat oven to 375˚F. Heat 8″ cast iron skillet on the stove on medium heat.
- Peel, core and thinly slice the pear and set aside.
- Stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture with a rubber spatula until just incorporated into a smooth batter. Don't over-mix the batter.
- Add a tablespoon of oil or pat of butter to the hot skillet and swirl the pan to coat the bottom,.
- Pour cake batter into the skillet and gently shake the pan to help the batter spread out. The batter should sizzle. Arrange pear slices on top of batter and sprinkle with reserved tablespoon of rapadura sugar.
- Bake the cake on the center rack at 375˚F for 35 minutes, until it's golden brown on top, the cake comes away from the sides of the pan and a tooth pick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then serve it warm or at room temperature.
- Cake will keep covered at room temperature for several days.
- Substitute the pear with other fall fruits like apple, Asian pear or quince. You can also substitute the fruit for 1 cup of chopped fresh cranberries, mixed into the batter to make a cranberry orange cake.