Whenever I head down to visit my parents in Florida, my mom bakes this incredible apple loaf cake. Moist, cinnamon-ey, bursting with soft, baked chunks of apple. Warmed up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (um, on the couch in some sweats…) – it is pure, luxurious comfort.
I thought I’d recreate a version of this loaf cake using delicious, seasonal winter pears instead of apples. Returning from Goa, I brought back a ton of spices – turmeric, massive cinnamon sticks, woodsy black cardamom, and some beautiful anise seed. The anise struck me as an ideal compliment to sweet, ripened pears, AND I’ve been looking for an excuse to use that Pernod liqueur that’s been sitting on the shelf for who knows how long.
I used Bosc pears here because they hold up really well to cooking and don’t turn to complete mush. I always ripen my pears in a bag on the counter before using them to get the peak flavor because most of the ones at the farmers’ market are unripe when you get them. Also, I macerated the diced pears with Pernod and sugar before adding to the cake batter – the liquid that’s released develops beautiful flavor in the cake and adds moisture. Theoretically, you could leave out the Pernod as long as you still macerate the pears with sugar and enough liquid is released – but I’m disclaiming that I haven’t tried it that way so you’re on your own! The result is a fine crumb loaf cake that is moist, full of pear flavor, scented with licorice-anise. Enjoy!
Yields 1 8½” x 4¼” x 2¾” loaf pan
3 cups peeled, cored and diced bosc pears
3 tbsps Pernod liqueur
1 ¼ cups light brown sugar
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp anise seed, crushed (with a mortar and pestle)
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsps baking powder
½ stick butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, room temperature
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Place diced pears in a bowl and add Pernod along with 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Stir to combine and let stand to macerate for 15 minutes.
In another bowl, sift together flour with salt, spices, baking soda and baking powder.
In a stand mixer, cream together remaining sugar and butter. With mixer on medium-low, add vanilla and then the eggs one at a time. Turn mixer down to low, and add in the dry ingredients, stopping to scrape down the sides. Mix until almost combined. Add in the pears with any liquid that’s accumulated and mix until thoroughly combined.
Pour batter into a greased loaf pan, and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.