This light, tender-crumbed, and just-sweet-enough cake makes a magical after-school snack and goes perfectly with an afternoon cup of tea. It also makes a fine breakfast! In fact, breakfast was its original inspiration as my family has been worshipping Kim Boyce's Pear and Buckwheat Pancakes with Honey Butter for years. We love buckwheat in my house and we pair it with all sorts of fruit year-round. But buckwheat and pear is one of our favorite combinations and we eagerly await the arrival of pears in the farmer's market each fall. The best part of this cake, though, is how easy it is to make. Unless there is a special occasion, I don't have time for elaborate cakes and all the dish washing that comes with major baking projects. This cake comes together in less than 20 minutes and you can mix the whole thing together in one bowl. —jessinkitchen
Preheat the oven to 375. Slice 6 tablespoons of butter and spread them out in an 8 inch square cake pan or other baking dish that will hold about 2 quarts (I use a 10.5” x 7” dish that holds 1.8 quarts). Put the pan with the butter in the oven so that the butter will melt as the oven heats up.
Grate the pears onto a plate with a lip so that the juices won’t run off. There is no reason to peel the pears and I find it easiest to grate the pears whole, rotating them so as to avoid the core. You should end up with about 1 cup of grated pear plus extra juice. Set aside.
Check on your butter. If it’s melted or almost melted, remove the pan from the oven and carefully swirl it a bit. Any small un-melted pieces will melt with the residual heat.
Measure all the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk them together. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk, vanilla, eggs, grated pear and juices and give the mixture a few stirs, taking care to break up the egg yolks. Add the butter and stir until just combined, making sure there are no floury streaks.
Using a butter wrapper or paper towel, spread the remnants of the melted butter around the baking dish so that it is well-greased. Pour the batter into the baking dish and smooth the top with a spatula so that the top is even. Put the cake in the oven to bake for 35-40 minutes. The cake is done when a tester comes out clean. Set the cake on a rack to cool.
While the cake is cooling, measure the icing ingredients into a small bowl. Using a fork or small whisk, stir all the ingredients together until well-combined and no lumps remain. Set aside.
When the cake is just barely warm, spread the icing over the top of the cake. I use a small offset spatula but a spoon or regular spatula will work as well. Lick the bowl while you wait for the cake to cool the rest of the way and the icing to set.