In this impressive quick bread, spices, dates, nuts, and pears scream “Autumn!” We used highly prized Warren pears, but you can try firm and ripe Seckel or Comice pears as well.
Saison Pear-Date Cake
Makes 1 (9x5-inch) loaf
- 16 dates, pitted and sliced
- 1¼ cups room temperature Saison or Hefeweizen beer, divided
- 2 medium pears
- ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (110 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
- ½ cup (57 grams) finely chopped walnuts, toasted
- 1½ teaspoons (3.5 grams) ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking soda
- ½ teaspoon (1 grams) ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons (14 grams) walnut halves (optional)
- Honey-Beer Syrup (recipe follows)
- Soak dates in ½ cup beer for 15 minutes.
- Cut 2 thin slices from center of each pear. Grate remaining pear on the large holes of a box grater to equal 1½ cups.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with baking spray with flour.
- Drain dates. In the work bowl of a food processor, place dates; process until smooth. Add melted butter, eggs, and vanilla; pulse until combined. Stir in remaining ¾ cup beer.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, and nutmeg. Add date mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Fold in grated pears. Pour batter into prepared pan. Arrange pear slices on top of batter, and press additional walnuts into batter, if desired.
- Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour and 5 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and gradually spoon one-fourth of Honey-Beer Syrup over cake in pan. Continue to spoon glaze over cake until all glaze is used, allowing it to soak into cake after each addition. Let cool completely in pan.
Makes about ¾ cup
- ½ cup Saison or Hefeweizen beer
- ⅓ cup honey
- 3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter
- In a small saucepan, bring beer, honey, and butter to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat, and use immediately.
This is a beautiful alternative to quick bread. The beer/date “infusion” smells wonderful. If you can find a hefeweizen that has banana notes, you can easily consider this an atypical banana bread. I had to reduce the syrup for quite longer than the recipe called for. You may want to use less of the amount you pour over the cake, as it tends to get so moist and heavy that it breaks apart when you handle it.