Pear Cake with Olive Oil, Ginger and Cinnamon

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Pear Cake with olive oil, candied ginger and cinnamon is a perfect choice for pear season, autumn gatherings, and Rosh Hashanah. Need other ideas for the Jewish New Year? You’ll find many more in this Rosh Hashana round-up.

slice of pear cake with whipped cream on blue plate

Olive Oil Pear Cake – Perfect for Fall and the Jewish New Year

There is nothing quite like fresh-picked fruit. When my neighbor generously shared a bounty of hand-picked Bartlett pears from Ukiah, I immediately started thinking about pear everything. When I saw the Kosher Camembert’s post about her super simple apple cake for the Jewish New Year – I wondered: could I use pears instead?

pears in white bowl

Turns out you absolutely can. Influenced by the flavor choices in this skillet pear cake, I added crystallized ginger, cinnamon, and salt to the original apple cake recipe and gave it a try. The result was described by one Rosh Hashanah dinner guest as “next level”. This olive oil cake with pears was served right next to an expertly baked cake from the Ottolenghi/Goh cookbook Sweet. And it held its own, mightily.

Why are Apples Traditional for Rosh Hashanah?

Eating apples and honey, in their basic form or in the dishes you cook for the Jewish New Year is one of the ubiquitous food traditions of Rosh Hashanah. Honey is traditional for its sweetness – symbolizing the Jews’ hope for a sweet new year.

But why do we dip apples and make apple cakes? Why not another fruit? Well, apples are generally sweet (and crunchy), so that’s the practical answer. In addition, the sweetness of the apple is mentioned in the bible in Song of Songs in a story of Solomon and G-d’s relationship with the Jewish people, something we contemplate during the Jewish High Holiday season.

apple honey in bowl with candlesticks in background

Can you Bake this Cake with Apples instead of Pears?

You absolutely can bake this cake with apples. The original recipe that inspired me to create this pear version was made with apples. Note in the original recipe that Gayle does let the apples macerate for half an hour in a bit of sugar and lemon juice to soften them up – a step that is less critical with naturally softer pears. (lemon juice is still necessary just not the half hour to soften up)

pear cake in pan with two whole pears

Can you Freeze Olive Oil Cake?

I learned from Gayle’s apple cake recipe that you can make the cake ahead and freeze it. I did this for the pear version the first time I made it – careful to wait until it was completely cool and wrap it airtight. It defrosted perfectly and served up so well. Make this cake ahead of time and freeze it with confidence knowing you’ll have a delicious cake to serve the day you need it.

whole pear cake with pear, cake server, striped napkin

Steps for Making this Pear Cake with Olive Oil

  1. Prep your round cake pan.
  2. Measure your dry ingredients.
  3. Dice the crystallized ginger.
  4. Whisk the eggs and sugars together.
  5. Whisk in the olive oil and vanilla.
  6. Peel your pears. Dice one to add to the cake batter. Slice the other two.
  7. Add the diced pears, crystallized ginger and dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and combine.
  8. Pour the batter into your cake pan. Decorate the top with the sliced pears and cinnamon sugar.
  9. Bake!
  10. Freeze or eat!

pear cake batter in round pan w cinnamon sugar

How to Serve this Olive Oil Pear Cake

This cake is lovely to eat just as it is, but a dollop of freshly whipped cream flavored with vanilla or orange liqueur or orange zest is a wonderful addition. Or serve it in the afternoon with tea. Or if you’re like me, eat a slice with your morning coffee.

slice of pear cake on blue plate with dollop of whipped cream

Helpful Supplies for Making this Olive Oil Cake with Pears

This post contains Amazon affiliate links – if you click on one and purchase something, I receive a very tiny percentage of the sale. Your price is never affected.

Here are helpful supplies for making this pear cake. A good Springform Pan is a great choice for this cake but a regular 9 inch cake pan will work as well. I prefer non-stick in both cases but if your pans are not, just grease them well. The crystallized ginger is available at Trader Joe’s but if you are an online shopper, I included an option for you. And finally, I don’t pull out the mixer for this cake (though you could) so I included an ergonomic OXO whisk as well.

Also check out my Amazon shop that includes some of my favorite food and food-related products. I am always updating it – please visit often. And let me know if you need specific products recommendations – I am happy to help! 

Other Recipes for your Rosh Hashanah Menu


close up cake slice with whipped cream fork on plate
5 from 6 votes

Pear Cake with Olive Oil

This pear cake, a close cousin to a traditional Rosh Hashanah apple cake, is simple to make but will wow your guests with its unique twists and flavor profile. Sure to become a fall favorite!

Course Dessert
Cuisine Jewish Holiday Baking
Keyword olive oil cake, Pear cake, Rosh Hashanah
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 10
Calories 260 kcal


  • 2 cups flour 1 cup All Purpose, 1 cup White Whole Wheat (2 cups AP ok too)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup olive oil no need to use your best finishing oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1.3 pounds Bartlett pears about 3 medium sized or 2 large, peeled (chop one pear for batter - about 1 cup, the balance sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon candied ginger chopped
  • ½ lemon for squeezing on pears after chopping/slicing


  • 1 tablespoon course sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Prep your 9" round cake pan (springform if possible) with non-stick spray and a dusting of flour. Add a piece of parchment on the bottom if you have any concern that it might stick.

  3. Measure your dry ingredients and combine them in a small bowl.
  4. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the eggs and sugars together.
  5. Then whisk in the olive oil and vanilla into the egg/sugar mixture.

  6. Add the diced pears, crystallized ginger and dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and combine.
  7. Pour the batter into your cake pan. Now decorate the top with the sliced pears and a sprinkling of the coarse sugar and cinnamon if you like.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 – 60 minutes – top should be golden brown and a cake tester should come out clean
  9. Cool and serve with fresh whipped cream. Or wrap well and freeze for later use.

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10 Responses to Pear Cake with Olive Oil, Ginger and Cinnamon

  1. Gayle September 23, 2019 at 5:07 pm #

    Looks gorgeous. The base cake is ripe (ha!) for so many variations, and I love your riff on mine, which was….ironically….a riff on a pear cake that was a riff on a plum cake (yes, THAT plum cake!.

    • Beth Lee September 24, 2019 at 9:21 am #

      And that is what makes cooking such a fun and creative activity! Thanks again for inspiring me last year when I had a mountain of pears!!!

  2. Nellie Tracy September 20, 2019 at 8:32 pm #

    5 stars
    I had never had anything like this before but I thought it was delicious!

    • Beth Lee September 21, 2019 at 9:05 am #

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Claudia Lamascolo September 20, 2019 at 4:53 pm #

    5 stars
    I love pears and never used them in a dessert, I would flip over this one and its so elegant looking wow!

    • Beth Lee September 21, 2019 at 9:04 am #

      Thank you! So easy to pull together too!

  4. Sandi September 20, 2019 at 4:04 pm #

    5 stars
    I love that you shake things up. Pears are the perfect topper for this cake.

    • Beth Lee September 21, 2019 at 9:05 am #

      Pears are easy to work with and so yummy!

  5. Laura September 20, 2019 at 3:10 pm #

    5 stars
    I’m loving all the flavors in your pear cake. Olive oil cakes are so easy and moist. Love the addition of candied ginger! YUM!

    • Beth Lee September 20, 2019 at 3:23 pm #

      Well that is a high compliment coming from the leading expert on olive oil cakes and cooking! Yay! So glad you liked it.

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