Thursday, February 3, 2011

cardamom pear loaf

Hello readers,

Perhaps like me, you've survived the great snowpocalypse that attacked much of North America (yes North America, dear States-side readers. When you see weather systems disappearing beyond the borders of the US on TV, they come here to Canada).  I can't bear the idea of leaving the house, the slushy streets, icy sidewalks, and the mountains of snow to be conquered on every street corner! All I want is cup upon cup of tea, and a little cake to go with it!

Inspired by a recent recipe on Gourmet Live, I devised a (vegan) cardamom pear loaf.  The original recipe is for a molasses cake, and I was intrigued by the method, which required adding boiling water and then freezing the dough to supposedly evenly bake the bread.  It produced a delicious cake, so moist and fluffy, and with only one egg! that I thought it a fine recipe for vegan tweaking.

This bread is so good - it makes two loaves, one for now, one for later, and fills the house with the yummiest scent of cardamom and vanilla baking.

Vegan Cardamom Pear Loaf
Makes 2 loaves
Takes 1 hour (plus freezing time)

1 cup honey
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons canola oil
2 inches of the black innards of a vanilla pod (or 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (5-6 pods)
2 cups flour
1 cup semolina*
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 pears sliced up into little bits
1/2 cup pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
1.5 cups boiling water

Toast the pistachios in a toaster oven or the big oven on 250 for 8–10 minutes.  Careful they don't burn!  When they've cooled, coarsely chop them.  If baking bread right away, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease and flour 2 loaf pans.

In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in the honey (you may want to melt the honey in the microwave or on the stove).  When dissolved, add oil, vanilla and cardamom, and stir vigorously until it's well-combined.  Add the flour, semolina, baking soda and salt, and stir until the dough resembles course, sandy meal.  Mix in the pears and crushed pistachios.

Add the boiling water and stir, the dough will be runny like pancake batter.

At this point you have two options, to freeze the dough or to not the freeze the dough.  I find that there is no difference between freezing and not freezing the dough in the finished bread.

The loaf on the left was baked yesterday with immediately mixed batter, and the loaf on the right was baked today, from batter that was frozen overnight.  It has a slightly larger crumb, but other than the differences from my pouring a bit more batter into the pan, tastes the same and has (basically) the same texture.

Oh well.  Since this recipe makes enough for 2 loaves, you get a later loaf for when you've eaten all of the first one!

Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes (a bit more if you have a frozen loaf) until a fork comes out cleanly.  Let cool in the pan, and then turn out and enjoy!

*Semolina is also known as rava or cream of wheat.  It gives the bread an extra little crunch.  If you don't want to use it, you can use another 1.5 cups of flour (3.5 cups flour total).


  1. yum! beautiful pictures! the perfect antidote to wintery weather. what's the perfect antidote to tropical heat? any suggestions for a good non-south indian recipe with all local ingredients and not many kitchen implements?

  2. Recipe sounds good but hardly vegan as the first ingrediant is honey!

  3. Hi Pamela,

    Thanks for your comment. I use the labels vegan and gluten-free loosely, for recipes that I think can be easily adapted. I am always reading recipes and thinking about how I can make them work for me, and I assume that's how readers view recipes on my site too.

    For information on why honey isn't vegan: