Pear Cake

April 2, 2010(updated on July 1, 2022)

This pear cake uses canned seckel pears, tucks them into a tasty cake batter, and bakes them into a pan of pear-dimpled goodness.

canned pears

Last summer (as you may remember), I went through a period where I canned a lot of fruit whole. That’s right, I just popped it into the jars, poured a syrup over top and processed. I wrote about the plums in honey, but as I look back through the archives, I realize I never managed to blog about the seckel pears I canned in that same honey syrup, spiked with a bit of powered ginger.

dry ingredients for pear cake

Throughout this year, I’ve gotten a number of questions from readers who fearlessly followed me into whole fruit canning and then didn’t know what to do with it once they were there. Well kids, here’s one recipe that works for either whole canned pears or plums (provided you used firm plums that at least kind of held their shape during the canning process).


This is a nice, adaptable cake that also works with fresh fruit (but there’s not much of that round these parts besides storage apples that are getting mealier with each passing day). For those of you observing Passover, you’re going to have to wait several more days before you can make this. However, it would make a VERY nice addition to an Easter brunch, if you happen to still be casting about for recipes.

finished pear cake

Next time I make this, I think I might sprinkle the top with a bit of crunchy sugar, to give it a bit of shimmer. However, taste wise, it doesn’t need a thing. The fruit makes it feel virtuous but underneath those pear halves, it’s still all cake (moist, slightly nutmeg-y cake). Another way to fancy it up (if you’re using home-canned fruit) would be to reduce the canning syrup down a bit and drizzle it over the top of the cake when serving. So good!

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Pear Cake


  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 5 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 canned seckel pears or 8 canned plums halved and cored/pitted


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter an 8 x 8 baking pan.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together using either a hand or stand mixer. Beat until they are well combined and fluffy. Add the eggs and applesauce and beat to combine. Add the orange zest and vanilla and combine.
  • Add half the dry ingredients, beat on low to combine and then repeat.
  • Scrape the finished batter into the baking pan and level. Lay the pears into the cake, cut side up, in whatever pattern most appeals to you. I used six pears for this cake. If you use plums, you’ll want to use eight.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, checking in with the cake after 25 minutes to ensure it doesn’t overbake. When finished, let cool for half an hour and then turn it out on a rack to finish cooling completely. Serve with coffee as a treat, or with a dollop of yogurt for breakfast (that’s how I ate it this morning – divine!).


Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

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23 thoughts on "Pear Cake"

  • Seckel pears are always a treat, let alone when spiked with a bit of honey — but they’re particularly adorable scattered over that cake. Perfectly heart shaped and delicious.

  • Canned whole Seckel pears? Sorry, I can’t even think about the cake because I can’t get past the pears.

  • This is great, I have a few jars of whole seckle pears as well. I’ve been wondering what to do with.

    I canned plums in honey with a bit of crushed cardamom over the summer. Last weekend I opened a can and poured them into orangette’s clafouti recipe, it was wonderful.

  • A couple of years ago, I made ginger-pear jam that never set up, so it was more like ginger-pear chunky syrup. I managed to use up every bit of it in apple bread I used the syrup for half of the liquid and half of the oil (and I even used a boxed quick bread mix for my co-workers who wouldn’t know the difference). It always turned out moist and tasty and I didn’t feel like I was wasting my failed jam. I might have to try whole pears just so I can make this cake now!

  • Oh that’s so cute, they look like little hearts in there!

    I was just combing through my overstuffed pantry and found 2 huge 1 qt. jars of apricot jam someone kind made me. What on earth do I do with that sort of thing? I mean beyond glaze fruit tarts? That would be a lot of fruit tarts….

  • I’ve had some canned whole seckel pears that catch my eye every time I head into the basement pantry. I’ve been mulling over what to make with them (only have 3 jars). I think this might fit the bill, thanks.

  • My mother always used a gingerbread cake-mix and poured it over pears that were spread over the bottom of the pan. It was good!

  • That is one gorgeous cake! I second the sprinkle of sugar on the top idea. I just did that on some peach muffins I made and it is almost like a sparkly glaze.

  • I’ve been contemplating doing one of these kinds of cakes with the spiced peaches that I canned in honey syrup last summer. You’ve inspired me to follow through on it! Your cake looks fantastic and almost makes me wish that my peaches were pears. 🙂

  • I’ve never seen a cake like this with canned fruit set into it. More ideas like this would be great. I want to can more this summer, but I don’t always know what to do with it.

  • The picture of the heart-shaped pears crackling down into the cake made me gasp out loud. Now, just to make some canned pears!

  • I made this on Sunday, using some canned peaches from the grocery store because I got so caught up with jam last year that I didn’t can any whole fruit. This cake has definitely convinced me to make sure I don’t make that mistake again!

    And I’m making the cake again tonight to bring to a potluck tomorrow. It’s *so* good.

  • Thank you so much. I was just wondering what I could do with my last jar of pears. Now I know. I love your blog. Thanks so much for teaching and informing. I pray your home sells quickly and the Lord leads you to the perfect place. One of rest, peace and prosperity!
    Hilltop Blessings!

  • Old-fashioned upside down cake is another wonderful way to out canned fruit to good use. Pears are especially nice, peaches too, and if you happen to have a handful of frozen or fresh blueberries (or huckleberries), tuck them in the interstices for color.

  • I set out to make the pear and vanilla jam recipe, and after chopping the pears realized I had clear jel, not pectin, so I made a variation on this with chopped pears instead of the canned. So delicious! Thanks for the recipe!