The perfect pair

Pear Cardamom Bundt Cake bursts with fall flavor

bundt cake

Pear Cardamom Bundt Cake bursts with fall flavor

Omaha, Neb.

Looking for an easy, delicious cake to capture the essence of fall? This Pear Cardamom Bundt Cake is just the thing. Made with a homemade pear compote, this spiced bundt cake is incredibly moist and bursting with pear flavor.

Chances are that you already own a bundt pan. Millions of Americans do. But have you ever wondered how this unusually shaped pan came to be? It was originally designed by the Nordic Ware company in Minneapolis in 1950 at the specific request of a group of Jewish women who were looking to recreate traditional eastern European cakes that had a hole in the center.

But the popularity of the bundt pan didn’t really take off until 1966 when the Tunnel of Fudge bundt cake won second place in a national baking contest. Demand for these unique pans suddenly skyrocketed, as bakers all across America wanted to make their own version of this gooey chocolate cake. Today, there are as many bundt cake variations as there are bakers, and the Nordic Ware company continues to manufacture the beautifully shaped pans that bake them.

This Pear Cardamom Bundt Cake is a rustic, cozy, and simple variation of the bundt. It is the kind of cake that is very much at home with a mid-morning or afternoon cup of coffee. I opted for no glaze or frosting here, just a simple dusting of powdered sugar. It honestly doesn’t need anything more. Of course, if you want to dress it up for dessert, a drizzle of warm caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream wouldn’t hurt.

The homemade pear compote that forms the base of this cake is delicately laced with freshly ground cardamom, vanilla, and fresh ginger. It makes a delicious topping for toast, crispbread, porridge, and granola and is well worth making, even if you aren’t planning on using it to bake a cake. You will often find a jar of it in my refrigerator when pears are in season.

I hope this recipe calls you into the kitchen for an enjoyable afternoon of baking on a chilly autumn day. This Pear Cardamom Bundt Cake is a sweet and delicious way to celebrate fall.

Pear Cardamom Bundt Cake

By Kristi Bissell
Makes 1 9-inch cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. fine salt
  • 1 tsp. cardamom seeds, ground in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle (or 1 tsp. ground cardamom)
  • 1 1/2 tsps. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Roasted Pear Compote with Cardamom, Vanilla, and Fresh Ginger
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 10-cup capacity bundt pan. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cardamom, and cinnamon. Set aside.
Combine butter and brown sugar in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time. Add flour mixture and mix on low until just combined. Mix in pear compote.
Spoon cake batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate and allow to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve.

Roasted Pear Compote with Cardamom, Vanilla, and Fresh Ginger

You can substitute 2 cups of chunky, unsweetened store-bought applesauce for the pear compote.

  • 5-6 small to medium-sized Bartlett pears, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 tbsps. honey
  • Seeds from 2 cardamom pods, crushed in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle (or 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom)
  • 4–5 thin slices of fresh ginger (no need to peel)
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients except vanilla bean and lemon juice in an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish.
  2. With a small sharp knife, split vanilla bean down one side of the pod. Open up the pod and lay it flat on your cutting board.
  3. Using the back of your knife, remove the black seeds from the interior of the pod by scraping from one end of the open pod to the other. Place seeds and empty pod in the baking dish along with the other ingredients.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until pears have softened considerably.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven. Using a spoon, remove and discard the vanilla bean pod and ginger slices.
  6. Mash pears with a potato masher or the back of a fork until they create a chunky, rustic mash. Add lemon juice.
  7. Taste the mixture and season with additional lemon juice, salt or honey to taste.
  8. Set aside to cool (compote can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks).

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 13, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Kristi Bissell

Kristi Bissell is the founder of True North Kitchen, a Nordic food blog designed for the American home cook. She enjoys creating recipes that celebrate her Scandinavian heritage and that approach traditional Nordic ingredients in a modern, fresh and approachable way. Kristi is a native of Minneapolis and currently resides in Omaha, Neb. When she’s not cooking and baking in her cozy kitchen, Kristi teaches private and corporate yoga classes and leads Scandinavian cooking and baking workshops. For more information, visit her blog,