Ginger Cake with Caramelized Pears

By: Nancy Schechtman

As the weather begins to turn, our dessert cravings change with it. Suddenly pumpkin pie sounds more appealing, and warm apple pie with ice cream is positively mouthwatering. Add this cake recipe to your dessert repertoire for this Fall. This cake makes me think of Vermont with the leaves in their glorious display of color. Do not use commercial maple syrup, think again of Vermont. 

Cake can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; store at room temperature. Pears can be cooked up to 4 hours in advance. Hold at room temperature.

Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp. honey
  • 1 ½ tsp. grated lemon peel
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger

Ginger Caramelized Pear Ingredients:

  • 3 9-oz. Bosc pears, peeled, halved, cored, each half cut into 4 wedges
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp. dark rum
  • 1 tsp. (packed) grated peeled fresh ginger
  • Cooking Syrup
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup (or more) water
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup

Vanilla Ice Cream

Additional Pure Mable Syrup

Cake: Preheat oven to 350’. Butter and flour 13x9x2 metal baking pan; line bottom with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together egg yolks and whole eggs. Beat butter, sugar and honey until very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add lemon peel; scrape in seed from vanilla bean; beat to blend. Beat in flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with eggs in 3 additions. Beat in ginger.

Pour batter into pan. Bake until tester in center comes out almost clean and top is deep golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Cut around pan to loosen cake. Turn out onto rack; peel off parchment. Cool completely. 

Pears: Place pears in large bowl; add seeds scraped from vanilla bean. Add rum and ginger; toss to coat. Let pears stand 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Put sugar in heavy large skillet. Stir over medium heat until sugar begins to liquefy, about 3 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high; continue to cook without stirring until sugar melts and caramelizes, swirling pan occasionally, about 5 minutes longer. Add pear mixture, ¼ cup water and butter; toss. Cook until pears are tender, tossing often and adding more water by tablespoonfuls if juices cook away, about 12 minutes. Add ½ cup syrup; bring to boil. Boil 1 minute. Cover skillet; remove from heat. 

Cut ginger cake lengthwise in half. Cut 6 rectangles that are 1 ½ inches wide and 4 ½ inches long.  Cut each rectangle in half on the diagonal. Reserve remaining cake for another day or double the pear recipe for a bigger crowd.) Place 1 cake wedge on each of 6 plates. Lean second wedge against first one on each plate. Spoon caramelized pears next to cake wedges. Lightly drizzle pear cooking syrup over cake. Place scoop of ice cream beside pears. Drizzle additional maple syrup over ice cream. Serves 6.

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Nancy loves the kitchen and always has.  It is the center of her home and her life.  It is filled with the warmth of the oven and laughter.  It was the first place she went on coming home from school and where she spent so very many happy times with my children.  Nancy's creative spirit flows from the kitchen into the rest of her life.  Now, living in Rancho Mirage, California, she frequently has dinner parties and continues to experiment with different foods and flavors enjoying the influx of new fresh ingredients that are filling our groceries.