Pear Cranberry Spiced Cake

Pear Cranberry Spiced Cake

I originally made the apple version of this on Thanksgiving.  I like pumpkin stuff, but I feel like it gets a little tiresome in the days of pumpkin spice everything, so a little change is welcome!  This cake is more of a cakey, pudding-y cobbler.  And it also reminds me of what my grandmother calls “poor man’s pie.”  You make first make a seasoned fruit mixture, and then you make a batter.  You layer them into a pan, and you do not mix it.  So this time, I changed it up.  I traded the apple for pear, the sour cream for ricotta, and the cinnamon for gingerbread spice mix (which is a blend of ginger, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg).  

Apples are pretty close to pears as far as texture and taste goes.  But pears tend to be a little softer and sweeter (especially compared to Granny Smith apples), so I recommend getting Anjou pears if you can.  Of the normal varieties I see at the store, it is the firmest kind.  They are the brighter green (as opposed to reddish brown or yellow).  I also decided to use fewer cranberries and more pears than the ratios in the original recipe because I found all the cranberry to be just a little bit too tart for my taste.  This version is still tart, but a little sweeter.

hfhsgsThis goes perfectly with a little sweetened whipped cream.  I like my whipped cream a little bit sweeter that normal, so I add about twice as much sugar to it as most other recipes I’ve seen.

This recipe, along with basically all desserts, calls for unsalted butter.  As a rule, I only buy unsalted butter for anything I make.  It keeps it simple, and I can always add salt when I need to.  Also, I always melt butter in the microwave– it’s so easy!  Just put the butter in a microwave-safe bowl and loosely cover it.  Microwave on medium in 30-second intervals until the butter is melted.  If it needs to cool down a bit before adding it to the recipe (especially if you’ll be adding eggs), just pop it into the freezer for 2-3 minutes or in the fridge for 5-6 minutes.  


Total Time:  2 hours

Difficultly Level:  Intermediate

Serves:  8 large slices or 12 small slices



1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems

3 Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and sliced

1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)

1/4 cup orange juice

1 1⁄8 teaspoons gingerbread spice, divided

2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided use

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup ricotta cheese

Sweetened whipped cream 

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sift together the flour and salt, and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix, the cranberries, diced pear, brown sugar, orange juice and zest, and 1 teaspoon of the gingerbread spice until well combined.
  4. In an electric mixture with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high for 2 minutes.
  5. Turn the mixer down to medium, and add 1 cup of granulated sugar, butter, vanilla, and ricotta. Mix until combined.
  6. Turn the mixer down to low, and slowly add the flour and salt mixture until combined.
  7. Spray a 10-inch glass pie pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the apple and cranberry mixture to the pie pan, and spread it out evenly.
  8. Pour the cake batter over the fruit. Using a rubber spatula, spread it around evenly.
  9. Sprinkle the extra tablespoon of sugar and pinch of gingerbread spice on top of the cake.
  10. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes. The fruit should be bubbling, and a toothpick should come out clean.
  11. Serve with sweetened whipped cream.

(inspired by Ina Garten’s Easy Apple Cranberry Cake)