Pear and Cranberry Cake

By • September 11, 2011 • 28 Comments

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Author Notes: This is a family recipe, no denying it. It was my Aunt Martha’s creation, but quickly became a holiday staple in my house as well. I distinctly remember eating this cake as part of our Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, and then again the next morning for breakfast; a huge treat for my sisters and I. Now I make it too, because it is mixed and in the oven in under fifteen minutes, and because it makes my kitchen smell divine. The flecks of mild, sweet pear and bites of sour cranberry are little gems, lending this moist, citrus-spiked cake a distinctive holiday look and taste. cristinasciarra

Food52 Review: Cristinasciarra shares her aunt's luscious cake recipe which she adapts here with pears. This cake is a snap to put together, there's a tantalizing aroma while it bakes, and it's very gratifying with that first bite. The tart pop of the fresh cranberries with the bright citrus notes in a perfectly moist rag-cake texture is simply divine. You could add a tiny pinch of salt, if you like. This is also a very forgiving recipe, if you happen to forget the wheat germ: it will still be lovely. I made this both ways. Thanks, cristinasciarra for sharing this gem!Sagegreen

Makes 1 bundt cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • zest of one orange
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberries (if frozen, do not defrost)
  • 2 very ripe pears, peeled and partly mashed (if unripe, cook them with ½ tablespoon butter, ½ tablespoon sugar and ½ tablespoon fruit brandy until soft)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, zest and eggs.
  3. Mix in orange juice. Pour in melted butter, while whisking vigorously, so the butter does not coagulate.
  4. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. Add wheat germ and baking soda, and incorporate.
  5. When the batter is mixed smoothly, add (slightly mashed) pears and cranberries, and integrate.
  6. Pour batter into a well-buttered bundt pan.
  7. Bake for one hour, or until a knife comes out clean.
Jump to Comments (28)

Comments (28) Questions (5)

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Food52

10 months ago Manhattan Tart

Have subbed cornmeal for the wheat germ and it's delicious; the cornmeal isn't a distraction from the other fabulous flavors, it just adds a nice little crunch. Love this cake!

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about 1 year ago Ausra de Araujo

This was exactly what I was looking for! I adore pears and cranberries,- & the combination of both must be divine. Short list of ingredients and even shorter of instruction :) Thanks so much for sharing. Now my Xmas kitchen will get a different smell too :) XXX

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about 1 year ago cristinasciarra

Thanks, Ausra! This cake really is an indispensable part of my holiday season, so I hope you love it, too!

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about 1 year ago learningbycooking

Thinking of using persimmons in lieu of pears. do you think this would work, especially with the orange notes? beautiful 'go to' recipe!

Stringio

over 1 year ago adele93

would rolled oats work as a substitute for wheat germ? Also, as i was going to use blueberry's and the cranberry's provide a "pop" of tart should i reduce the 2 cups sugar to 1 1/2?

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over 1 year ago cristinasciarra

Hi Adele, the wheat germ provides a nutty flavor note, although it doesn't alter the texture of the cake the way rolled oats would. It wouldn't be my inclination to add the oats, but by all means, experiment as you see fit! (You can also just skip the wheat germ if you want.) As for the berries, the zest from the citrus really shines through, particularly the orange, so I might only use fruit you think marries well with orange. And lastly, the sugar: the wheat germ helps temper some of the cake's sweetness; since the fruit only studs the cake, I don't think it lends the cake as a whole much sweetness. However, if you like your desserts on the less sweet side, feel free to experiment with the sugar quantity until you're happy!

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almost 2 years ago norcal liz

I am finally making this now:) but need to use a different berry.....any other you like? Leaning toward raspberry or blueberry.

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almost 2 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Norcl Liz I would stick with something tart - one of may favorite things about this cake it that tart cranberry pop - so I would choose raspberry over blue berry, or maybe fresh currants if you can get them

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almost 2 years ago norcal liz

Will dehydrated cranberries work?

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almost 2 years ago cristinasciarra

Hi norcal liz, I wouldn't use dehydrated cranberries-- part of the goodness of this cake is the plump, moist bites of cranberry.

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almost 2 years ago Josephsm

Raw wheat germ or toasted wheat germ, or doesn't it matter? Thanks, looks like a great cake.

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almost 2 years ago cristinasciarra

Hi Josephsm, Toasted would be my inclination, but I suppose it doesn't matter.

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almost 2 years ago barb48

Can I just skip the wheat germ? What effect will it have on the cake?

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almost 2 years ago cristinasciarra

The wheat germ adds a bit of a nuttiness, and balances the sweet/citrus. However, the cake will still be tasty without it.

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about 2 years ago Kaycita

This worked great with my 2 substitutions. I used flax meal instead of wheat germ. And I used Cointreau instead of fruit brandy because I wanted a little extra orange flavor. I think it would work well with apples too.

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over 2 years ago BavarianCook

This is fantastic. Just had my first slice of it after pulling it out of the oven an hour ago. It's not "holiday season" right now but I had some leftover frozen cranberries to use up and this cake fit the bill. Deliciously moist and the citrus is not overpowering but goes wonderfully with the pears. A keeper and thank you for the recipe, Cristinasciarra!!!

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almost 3 years ago Waverly

Perfect holiday bundt cake!

Bike2

about 3 years ago Sagegreen

Lovely flavors!

Bike2

almost 3 years ago Sagegreen

Aargesi is so right! This is delicious. It worked really well with a pinch of salt and even my forgetting to add the wheat germ the first time. Everyone still loved it!

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almost 3 years ago cristinasciarra

I'm so glad it worked out! Thanks so much for testing it! Just in case you ever want to enjoy this cake in a more tropical setting, my Aunt adds: "You can also use pineapple juice instead of orange juice and chopped pineapples (use the pineapple chunks and cut them down) instead. Cut up macadamia nuts mix with sugar and sprinkle on top. All other ingredients are the same and you prepare the same way."

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about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

How beautiful, and what lovely flavors.

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about 3 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

It is in the oven!

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about 3 years ago cristinasciarra

I hope you love it!

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about 3 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Absolutely delicious! Moist tender cake, tart pops of cranberry, and the perfect citrusy notes. We love it!!!!

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about 3 years ago cristinasciarra

I am so glad you like it! :)

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about 3 years ago cristinasciarra

I hope you guys like it!

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about 3 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I have a bag of frozen cranberries that I have been hoarding, and a lot pf pears too - this is perfect!!!

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about 3 years ago nannydeb

Just in time for another potluck at work! I can taste it already. thanks!