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This exceptionally beautiful cake is on the cover of Home Made Winter by Yvette van Buren. Quoting her, “This recipe has been published all over in magazines and newspapers, but I really don’t care; since it’s so good and looks so cool, it belongs in this collection.”

I agree. This cake is so breathtaking it is irresistible. Wine-poached pears are embedded in a spice cake baked in a loaf pan. The reduced poaching liquid is added on top for a final flourish of flavor. I don’t know who first created this dessert, but they are an artist of magnitude. And taste.

Suzen makes poached pears often for her team building clients at Cooking by the Book. She’s a red wine poacher and I’m sure that change is something that can easily be substituted here.

Cardamom Cake with While Pears & White Chocolate

Yield: serves 6-8


For the pears:

  • 3 medium-size crisp, firm pears (such as Bose), peeled but whole, with the stem left on
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle dry white wine
  • 1 ¼ cups (250 g) sugar
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 star anise
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

For the cake:

  • 1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons [200 grams] butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups self-rising flour
  • 1 generous tablespoon ground cardamom
  • Pinch of salt

And further:

  • 3 ounces white chocolate


Poach the pears: In a large saucepan, combine the pears, wine, sugar, cloves, star anise, cardamom, and cinnamon and poach for 30 minutes over low heat.

Take the pears out of the liquid and set aside to cool. Add 2 ½ cups (500 ml) water to the poaching liquid and boil to 1 reduce the liquid by half. Let cool.

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Using a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Beat in the eggs one at the time. Don’t add a new egg until the previous one is incorporated.

Sift the flour, cardamom, and salt over the batter and fold it in.

Butter a 9-by-5-inch (1.5 1) loaf pan and line it with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper.

Spoon the batter into the pan. Press the pears in, stem end up. Bake for 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake 1 part comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the pan, then gently remove the cake from the pan to a rack to cool completely.

Very carefully melt the chocolate: Set a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch 1 the water. Stir the chocolate in the bowl until melted. Using 1 a spoon, drizzle the chocolate over the cake and create nice stripes on top.

Let the chocolate dry for a bit and serve the cake in thick slice with the reduced pear syrup poured on top.

Source: Home Made Winter by Yvette van Boven [Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2012]