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“WHAT’S MISSING ?” . . . like that feeling you get when you eat/taste something and even when it’s good, you know deep-deep down inside that it needs something EXTRA to make it just RIGHT !

This is why I made this . . .

As usual, I was invited to fancy & tasty work-related lunch meetings and I had a piece of pear tart once and then a piece of pear cake another time. Both we’re very good but something was missing (both times) to make it “oh-so-good”.

I had an idea in mind and tested it out. There wasn’t 1 thing missing but actually 2 !

My answer : It needed CARDAMOM for the freshness & brightness of flavor (which makes sense and which I often add to apple desserts and in addition (and not to add insult to injury), some GREEN PEPPERCORNS for that “bite”. Lots of cardamom and just a little green pepper make a huge difference.

The rest is easy enough I guess, the crumb topping is an uncooked crumble that cooks with the cake, the firmer BOSC pears are slightly cooked and some of the mushier softer pears (like in the photo) are reduced to a purée and included in the batter for a more intense pear taste.

Anyways, get the ingredients, follow the instructions and tell me how yours turned out . . .  :)

pear & pistachio & cardamom 'crumb cake'




pears :

  • 500 grams (4-5 medium) ‘bosc’ pears, (2-3 cored and thickly sliced and 1-2 reduced to ½ cup or 120 grams of purée for the cake batter)
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice  (or lime juice)
  • 29 grams (2 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 20 grams (1 tbsp) honey (or maple syrup)
  • 12 grams (1 tbsp) sugar
  • 1 gram (¼ tsp) lemon zest (or lime zest)
  • 1 gram (¼ tsp) fine sea salt  

crumble topping :

  • 130 grams (1 cup) whole wheat flour (or all-purpose white flour)
  • 50 grams (½ cup) coarsely chopped and/or halved pistachios
  • 55 grams (¼ cup tightly packed) dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 55 grams (¼ cup tightly packed) light brown muscovado sugar
  • 2 grams (1 tsp) ground cardamom seeds
  • 1 gram (¼ tsp) fine sea salt
  • optional : 0,5 -1 gram (1/8 -1/4 tsp) ground green peppercorns
  • 115 grams (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted

cake batter :

  • 120 grams (½ cup) sour cream or crème fraîche
  • 120 grams (2 large) eggs
  • 120 grams (½ cup) unsweetened pear purée (from 1-2 fresh pears)
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) vanilla extract
  • 160 grams (1 ¼ cups) white all-purpose flour
  • 35 grams (¼ cup) ground pistachios
  • 145 grams (¾ cup) granulated golden cane sugar
  • 3 grams (¾ tsp) baking soda
  • 3 grams (¾ tsp) baking powder (in North America, increase to 1 ½ tsp because in Europe it’s stronger and like double-action)
  • 1 gram (½ tsp) ground cardamom
  • 1 gram (¼ tsp) fine sea salt
  • 115 grams (½ cup) softened room temperature butter


  • divide the pears in 2 groups, 1-1 ½ pears or ¼ of the total for reducing to a purée and 2-3 pears or ¾ of the total to be cored, quartered and sliced again
  • reduce some in a food processor (approximately 120 grams or ½ cup of purée) and reserve in a bowl
  • wash & remove cores from the rest of the pears, quarter and then slice each quarter in 4 thinner slices and toss with the lemon juice, then melt the butter and honey in a large pan at medium heat, add the pear slices, the sugar, lemon zest and salt and let cook for 2-3 minutes until slightly softer, then set aside and let cool down, drain the slices and discard the excess liquid
  • prepare the crumble by combining all the dry ingredients together and mix well, then add the melted butter and keep stirring until clumps form and set aside
  • preheat the oven to 175°C
  • use a springform loaf tin (mine measured 30 cm x 11 cm x 7 cm or use any other medium sized square or round springform baking pan), place a piece of baking paper on the bottom, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with flour on the bottom and insides and shake out the excess flour
  • prepare the cake batter by combining all the wet ingredients together (sour cream/crème fraîche, eggs, vanilla extract and pear purée) using an electric mixer until smooth
  • mix all dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, pistachio powder, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom, salt and optional green pepper)
  • add the softened butter to the dry ingredients mixture and use a pastry blender (or your fingers) until the dry ingredients and softened butter are well mixed together and crumbly
  • add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well using an electric mixer until smooth
  • pour the cake batter in the baking pan and smooth out the top with a spatula, lay the pear slices on top in 1 or 2 layers, then cover the pear slices by sprinkling the crumble topping on top
  • bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes (or until an inserted skewer comes out clean)

note : after 40-45 minutes, if the crumble topping is getting dark too quickly, then loosely cover with a small sheet of aluminum foil and continue baking

  • remove from the oven, let cool down completely for 2 hours before removing from the baking pan, then unmold carefully and serve in thick slices.