I learned two things last week. Chai spice is everything (sorry/not sorry, pumpkin spice). And chai spice cake stuffed with luscious poached pears is the cake to end all autumnal cakes.
Use the chai spice blend to make your own chai tea or use it in other baking recipes (pumpkin pie could get infinitely better), poaching fruits, or in a simmering pot to make the house smell wonderful.
A couple of things to remember… You must be patient with this cake. I know I know, I’m the worst with patience, but you must try to wait until it is completely cool before you cut into it. Lightly coating the poached pears in flour will help the cake batter adhere to them while baking. You can see a little separation in the top photo, but the other pears in the cake had none. If you want boozier pears reduce the poaching liquid water to 2 cups and up the bourbon to 1 cup.
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Chai Spice Blend:
- 1 tablespoon each: ground ginger ground all spice, ground cloves, ground black peppercorns, ground star anise
- 2 tablespoons each: grated nutmeg ground cardamom
- 8 tablespoons 1/2 cup ground cinnamon
- 3 bosc pears peeled, stem on
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1 split vanilla bean
- 3 cardamom pods cracked open
- 2 star anise pods
- 1/2 teaspoons cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1 nub of ginger smashed
- 1 orange or mandarin juice and rind
- 3 poached pears slightly cooled (see recipe below)
- 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup whole cane sugar rapadura
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 teaspoons chai spice blend see recipe below
- 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1/2 cup canola oil or olive oil
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh finely grated orange zest
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Chai Spice Blend:
- Add everything to a jar, cover and shake to combine.
- Label jar and store in a cool dry place.
- Add everything to a saucepan. Bring everything to a boil. Reduce to a low boil and cover. Cook until pears are fork tender, which will depend on how ripe they are to begin with. Anywhere from about 15-35 minutes.
- Remove pears from poaching liquid with a slotted spoon and allow to slightly cool on a plate before using them in the cake recipe.
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- Grease and line a 9"x5"x2.5" loaf pan with parchment paper, allowing a bit of overhang. This will make it easy to remove cake from pan when done.
- Dust pears in some flour, either by gently rolling them into flour or brushing flour onto them with a pastry brush. This will help the batter to stick to the pears when baking.
- Place floured pears into parchment lined loaf pan.
- Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chai spice in a mixing bowl.
- In a separate bowl or large liquid measuring cup whisk together coconut milk, maple syrup, oil, vinegar, orange juice and zest, and vanilla bean.
- Stir wet mixture into dry mixture until just incorporated. Do not over-mix.
- Pour batter into loaf pan smoothing it around the pears.
- Bake cake at 350˚F on center rack for about 1 hour and 10 minutes until dark golden brown and when a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
- Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes then gently lift cake out of pan by pulling the parchment paper up. Transfer cake to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature. Do not cut into it until cake has cooled to room temperature, at least 1 hour. It's even better if you wait until the next day (if you have that kind of patience, I mean.)
- Dust top of cake with powdered sugar before serving.