Cakes · Desserts

Chai Spiced Honey Cake with Poached Pears

Somewhere across the world, I hear someone silently cursing at me. It goes something along these lines:

“stupide Americains!” (or is it Americains stupides? There goes 3 years of studying French)

“Why do you insist on placing cinnamon on my beautiful fruit desserts and then ruining it with vanilla ice cream? The dessert is about tasting the pear and the pear-infused mousse!”

From there I mutter that I tried it the way it was written and felt it was lacking. Gasp. Silence in the room.

I revert to my “America’s test kitchen” mode and make 5 variations of the cake: with mousse (original recipe calls for a mascarpone mousse), with mousse and cinnamon, without mouse, without mousse but with cinnamon, without mousse with cinnamon and ice cream.

Considering I was the sole judge and tasted the different varations one after the other, I came to the very partial verdict that the cake without the mousse and topped with a scoop of ice cream and sprinkled with cinnamon was the hands down winner. The mousse texture and flavor did not seem to compliment the texture of the cake and pears whereas the ice cream melded all the flavors together. Can you really go wrong with ice cream anyway?

Recipe adapted from Grand Finales: Neoclassical View of Plated Desserts


For cake:

  •  1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup strongly brewed chai tea
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup honey (the recipe calls for chestnut but I just used liquid honey)
  • 150g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temp

For pears:

  • 6 large bosch pears, ripe but slightly firm (or an alternative seasonal fruit)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 125ml dry white wine


1. Preheat oven to 190ºC.

2. Sift together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients.

3. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until thoroughly combined.

4. Pour the batter into a well greased 23cm x 33cm cake tin and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cake is set and a skewer comes out clean. Begin checking at 25 minutes. Immediately invert the cake onto a rack and cool completely.

5. Meanwhile while the cake is baking, prepare the pears. Peel and core the pears and cut them into eighths. In a large sauté pan , caramelize the sugar. Once the sugar has turned a light golden color, add the pears and lemon juice and remove immediately from heat.

6. Add the wine. Simmer over a low heat until the pears are soft. Reserve cooking liquor.

6. Cut the cake into eight circles (7.6cm) then carefully arrange pear slices on top to suit (I used 5 to 6 slices on each). Drizzle any remaining cooking liquor over the top of the pears and place a small scoop of vanilla ice cream (no cheap vanilla ice cream, please). Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve immediately.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s