Buttermilk Spice Cake with Pear Compote

Making sure we don’t waste any food is almost like a game to me.  I am always trying to make sure nothing gets thrown away.  Before we left to go on vacation, we had 3 semi-ripe pears sitting on the counter.  I had no time to do anything with them, so I decided to just put them in the refrigerator to see if they would stay good until we returned.  Sure enough, they didn’t ripen anymore, but they looked fine – they just didn’t seem ripe enough to eat by themselves.  I was looking through my Bon Appetit magazine, and noticed this recipe – the Buttermilk Spice Cake looked delicious – but it was the Pear Compote that really caught my eye.  I decided this was exactly what these pears in the refrigerator were meant for.  I followed the instructions, and they turned out beautifully – even my husband was impressed – since he is usually the one that has to eat up all the fruit.  The cake was also delicious – although it did not get as fluffy as I expected.  I was picturing it more like this cake which is so rediculously light it almost melts in your mouth.  Even so, it went perfectly with the Pear Compote – and there was not a piece left the next day – except for the piece I saved my daughter to put in her lunch…and boy was she happy about that.


Pear compote:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 3 Bosc pears (about 1 1/2 pounds total), peeled, quartered, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Buttermilk spice cake:

  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (scant) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground whole star anise*
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3-inch piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lime peel
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • Powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups crème fraîche or whipped cream


For pear compote:
Mix sugar, lime juice, and salt in heavy large saucepan. Add pears and toss gently to coat. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until pears are just tender, stirring occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled.

For buttermilk spice cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides; line pan with round of parchment paper. Sift first 9 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until smooth. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating to blend between additions. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and add lime peel; beat to blend. Beat in flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions, scraping down bowl occasionally. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake cake until beginning to brown on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool cake in pan on cooling rack. DO AHEAD: Cake can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.

Cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Turn cake out onto rack; peel off parchment and turn right side up onto platter. Sift powdered sugar over. Cut into wedges. Serve with pear compote and dollop of crème fraîche or whipped cream.

For a printer-friendly recipe, please click here:  Buttermilk Spice Cake with Pear Compote

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6 thoughts on “Buttermilk Spice Cake with Pear Compote

  1. Well this is different, nice way to use up the pears! I would probably really enjoy this cake, now I just need to go get some pears, but I do have far too many apples, maybe I could use those.

  2. oh! i remember you mentioning this cake the other day! it looks divine. i love a good MOIST cake and will probably make that lemon one soon! i have that same obsession about not letting stuff go to waste! i hate it! take care…Liz B

  3. Yes, I love this Buttermilk Spice Cake with Pear Compote. I will definitely try it for my family. Thanks for the useful post.

  4. What a beautiful picture. This looks so good, I’ll bet your husband had a hard time waiting until you finished taking the pictures!

    Thanks for the great post.

  5. The picture speaks for itself. Buttermilk Spice Cake with Pear Compote is a very delicious cake. You dont want to miss the taste of this superb cake.

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