Spiced Pear Gingerbread

There is a new cookbook on my shelf, a recent arrival from the Berkshire kitchen of my friend, Alana. Actually, it hasn’t rested on the bookshelf yet; I’ve been keeping it with me in the kitchen for daily cooking, baking and tea-time reading.

The Homemade Kitchen: Recipes for Cooking with Pleasure is the second cookbook from Alana, and a long awaited companion to The Homemade Pantry. It’s a personal and passionate ode to home cooking without an ounce of pressure. Alana encourages aspiring cooks with memorable lessons such as Do Your Best and Then Let Go, Be a Beginner, and Do the Work. In fact, these guiding principles form the outline of her book, and she explains and expands on them in thoughtful essays that undoubtedly come from a place of learning.

I’ve been cooking plenty from The Homemade Kitchen already, so read on for more thoughts on the cookbook and a splendid giveaway, too.

Minestrone + Popovers from the Homemade Pantry || Simple Bites

There is a warmth in Alana’s cookbook that I recognized right away. It is the same generosity of spirit and open-armed welcome that I received last February when we dropped in to her home on my book tour. Having sipped Chemex coffee and devoured breakfast burritos in the same kitchen the book is named after, I can honestly say that The Homemade Kitchen is a truthful portrayal of the real thing.

Soup was the first dish I was inspired to make. Minestrone, to be exact, a recipe tucked into the back of a chapter titled ‘Use Your Scraps’ – a worthy cause that is close to my heart. And so I did just that, opening the fridge and turning odd bits of vegetables, leftover beans and some tired kale into a bowl of comfort food.

To keep everyone happy (although my crew adores a vegetable-filled bowl like the one above) I slid a batch of Alana’s Popovers into the oven 25 minutes before dinner. At my beckoning, the three little ones skidded into the kitchen and parked in front of the glass door of the oven to watch them puff. They rose to impressive heights, and stayed that way until we devoured them with our Minestrone.

It was a perfect October weeknight supper.

Pear Gingerbread || Simple Bites #cake #recipe

Spiced Pear Gingerbread

Alana introduced me to the term ‘snacking cake’, although I can’t remember exactly when. She has long professed a soft spot for tea and cake and really, what are October afternoons for if not for nibbling on cake while watching the leaves fall?

I debated long and hard between The Homemade Kitchen‘s seasonally appropriate Pear Gingerbread and the tempting Rhubarb Snacking Cake, because my little plant is still producing. In the end I decided to save the rhubarb for one last pie for Thanksgiving and reached for a box of Quebec pears.

Before long, the kitchen was perfumed with an intoxicating concoction of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. The cake rose tall and turned golden, and it wasn’t long before Clara and I were tucking into a slice each. Delicious. Spicy and dense; not too sweet.

Our little family is going to face a few challenges in the coming months. Does knowing what lies ahead help ease the anxiety? Not really. But perhaps I can store a few pans of pear gingerbread in the freezer for the more difficult of days. Slowing down for tea and cake seems like a good way to come to grips with grown up issues. Add homemade applesauce and a little whipped cream and the road to recovery will be swift.

Pear Gingerbread || Simple Bites #cake #recipe

Pear Gingerbread

Boldly spiced and subtly sweet, this snacking cake is perfect for afternoon tea on a chilly fall day.
4.7 from 23 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Desserts
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 1 9x9-inch cake
Author: Alana Chernilla - from The Homemade Kitchen


  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter plus additional for the pan
  • 1/2 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup or honey (I used honey)
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar I used organic muscavado
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons ground ginger I used half fresh, half dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 2 Bosc pears peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices


  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch square or equivalent pan.
  • In a small sacuepan, melt together the butter, syrup, and brown sugar over low heat. Gently stir to combine as the mixture melts. Set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture and combine with a few strokes of a wooden spoon, taking care not to overmix.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and yogurt. Add the egg mixture to the batter, and gently combine. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
  • Lay the pears on top of the batter in a pinwheel shape. Bake until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the cake, 30 to 35 minutes


Store tightly wrapped at room temperature. This cake gets better on the second and even third day.
Wisely, Alana calls for a 9x9 inch pan. I only had 8x8 and the baking temperature was longer than usual, which made the edges of the cake dry out slightly. Go with 9x9!

If you get a chance, pick up The Homemade Kitchen in a bookstore and flip through it for the lovely photos. They are magazine-pretty, yet don’t feel staged – not an easy accomplishment.

When Alana and family dropped in on us earlier this summer, her daughter Rosie and my Noah perched on the sofa together with their mum’s cookbooks and chuckled at the photos of themselves on the pages. Alana and I elbowed each other and tried to listen into their nine-year-old commentary. It was all rather adorable. I’m happy Noah got the chance to commiserate with someone who understands what it’s like to have a photographer follow you around in the apple orchard.

The Homemade Kitchen giveaway


Thanks to the lovely people at Clarkson Potter I have a very special giveaway for you!

Grand Prize:

One winner will take home a grand prize of:

  • One Zwilling Stainless-Steel 6-inch Chef’s Knife (I own and love this knife)
  • The Homemade Kitchen’ tote bag (these are beautiful!)
  • A signed copy of The Homemade Kitchen.

Second and Third Prize:

A copy of The Homemade Kitchen shipped to the doors of two runner up winners.

To enter: leave a comment on this post and tell me your current fall baking or cooking obsession. That’s it!

Giveaway ends Sunday, October 11, 2015 at 7AM. Winners will be announced in my Weekend Links post. Good luck to all!

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Auntiepatch says

    5 stars
    If my oven was working, I’d be baking hand pies!

  2. Definitely, Baked Oatmeal with Fall flavors and seasonal fruit, such as apple-cinnamon, maple, gingerbread, etc. to warm chilly Minnesota mornings.

  3. I’m not a big baker, but the fall has me popping pumpkin muffins and banana breads and apple crisps in my oven! Also, I’m beyond happy to pull out my crockpot and start up my weekly soups again! It feels like a cozy hug from a friend who’s been away for a while…when she comes back you realize how much you actually missed her!

  4. Christina.vd says

    Soups, squash and crisps!

  5. Baby back ribs with homemade bbq sauce and chocolate cake with marshmallow icing. Finding the most moist chocolate cake recipe.

  6. I’ve formed an obsession with the pumpkin pie with a bottom layer of cheesecake underneath. I haven’t had time to make it yet and hopefully I get time before our new baby makes his entrance! I’d love a new book about home cooking since I’ll be home over the winter to cook 🙂

  7. I’ve been getting into pumpkin. I love it in soups and last year, I made my very first homemade pumpkin pie! It was delicious! This year, I want to try your recipe for pumpkin cheesecake. It looks so good and, more importantly, so easy. I can’t wait to try it 🙂

  8. Kristen Cushing says

    I’m loving cooking and baking with all the warm spices of Autumn. Cinnamon-vanilla-honey granola, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, applesauce, roasted chicken and root vegetables. . .

  9. Sandria van den Heuvel says

    I am currently obsessing over the carrot, cranberry, oatmeal muffins from your recipe book. So delish! Also, looking forward to an apple crisp this weekend with French vanilla icecream and homemade caramel sauce. Yummy! I love fall food

  10. As the Mom of a kindergartener – my first to go to school – I am busy baking and cooking treats and snacks for school lunch. Muffins, cookies, brownies and granola bars are churning out of my kitchen! Am also hosting my first Thanksgiving so obsessing about that as well. BEJJ is helping my through it….butter roasted turkey, honey sweet potatoe ginger purée….

  11. 5 stars
    My fall cooking obsession is roasted cauliflower! I am also having a great time canning all things pear. So far I have made Perky Pear Ketchup, carmalized onion and pear marmalade, pickled Seckel pears, and of course my standby…pear sauce! Yum! I love this season!

  12. Mathieu Jarry says

    4 stars
    Current obsession for the fall is anything slowcooker. Throw it in there and let the house smell delicious! By the time its ready, everyone is famished and running to the table!

  13. 4 stars
    en getting into slow cooker foods. Such as various types of stews /chillies and desserts. I’m into finding new baking recipes moist cakes and cookies. I’m loving the change of weather because it makes me want to be in my warm kitchen cooking and embracing good food and cooking new recipes.

  14. Jeanne Wilcox says

    My goals this Fall are to find a great parsnip soup recipe, try some of the overnight oatmeal recipes I’ve seen and make bacon jam.

  15. I love anything with Pumpkin. I crave it in the fall.

  16. I SO love Alana’s first book, and am so looking forward to exploring her new one. Making pumpkin muffins, and more applesauce, and an apple pie for my darling husband.

  17. This fall, I’m obsessed with finding new ways to make breakfast special on the weekend, with little effort on Saturday morning for the cook (me!). I’ve prepped your overnight Pumpkin French Toast for tomorrow morning – so looking forward to it! A perfect start to a Thanksgiving Weekend!

  18. I can’t get enough of French Toast Casseroles.

  19. Weird! My comment disappeared.
    I’ve been baking ginger snaps- perfect spices for fall.

  20. My current fall obsession is baking apple pies.

  21. Does deep frying count as baking? Because I have apple fritters on my to-do list for the weekend!

  22. I love baking things with apples, pumpkin and ginger at this time of year

  23. Pumpkin pie and anything made with apples !

  24. I love gingerbread and I love that it is so easy to make. The entire house smells wonderful and cozy while it’s baking, and then you get to eat something delicious to boot!

  25. I am obsessed with making soup! My favorite is a chorizo and red bean soup with zucchini and potato. It is slightly creamy and slightly spicy and soo tasty.

  26. I’ve been obsessed with applesauce – for school lunches, to freeze for winter mornings, to bake in banana bread or other quick breads. I so love this season!

  27. I am an October baby, and this is my favourite time of year. Pumpkin muffins are in heavy rotation, with 12 and 14 year old boys packing lunches. Will make myself the pumpkin/maple Bundt cake for my birthday after my mother-in-law descends with pies tomorrow!

  28. It’s soup!! It was a hot summer and I’m so happy to be back to simmering soup on the stove! My boys gobble up veggies this way. Happy Thanksgiving Aimee and family!

  29. Chicken and dumplings!

  30. I just brought in a ton of pumpkins from the garden. I think after they have been pureed I will be baking tons of pumpkin things, bread, cookies, pies, smoothies ect.. Maybe I will try something savery.

  31. My family loves mini cinnamon sugar pumpkin muffins.

  32. I love The Homemade Pantry! I can’t wait to get my hands on Alana’s new cookbook.

    Currently, we have been baking up a lot of pumpkin pop-tarts and enjoying homemade applesauce. I’m looking forward to fresh apple cider with friends this next week.

    I think a snacking cake may just be in order to bring to church in the morning. Nothing like fresh baked goods to make preaching more palatable 😉 (don’t tell my husband I said that, haha).

  33. I love making fresh applesauce this time of year or really anything with local apples. My daughter recently made some pumpkin muffins that were outstanding. And with cool weather we are into weekly soup pot meals.

  34. Ariel Vallis says

    Wow, how exciting! I read in your cook book to challenge yourself to cook with one new ingredient each month, and for me, that ingredient is butternut squash. My current fall cooking obsession is cranking the oven and roasting it for soups, stews and sides.

  35. Kathy Clark says

    I love to make apple pies and other apple goodies.

  36. Janet Norwood says

    This cake is what I will be baking today!! Love anything with pumpkin, too!

  37. Susan Christy says

    Pumpkin Cheesecake bars are my current obsession. I’ve made them to take to work, to dinner at a friends and I’m making them again for a family get together.

  38. I wish Icould tell you that we can feel autumn here in very hot and sunny Southern California!! (currently over 100 F), but the heat does not keep me away from the oven!! I love to bake all kind of breads, muffins, cakes, cookies, and apple pie, my favorite, along with pumpkin scones!
    Thanks for the giveaway!!

  39. Everything with my homemade slow cooker applesauce! So great for baking!

  40. Stews!!

  41. Maple apple everything! Especially homemade applesauce with maple syrup and whipped cream on fluffy buttermilk pancakes 🙂

  42. Apple cider, hand pressed in a vintage mill. amazing!

  43. i have been roasting up my little pie pumpkins in order to make pumpkin everything in the next few days 🙂 muffins, pumpkin spice lattes, homemade style, ohhh so many awesome recipes. this would be fabulous!

  44. My current fall baking obsession is finding healthy or guilt-free ways to enjoy dark chocolate desserts using pumpkin!

  45. Apple sauce pies and crisps….yes we brought way too many apples home from the orchard!

  46. Pears, pears, pears. Jam, pies anything!

  47. I always have roasted sweet potatoes on hand in the fall, which I like with smoked salt. And the kids have been on a huge oatmeal kick since the nights have cooled down!

  48. Baking pies right now. Using some saskatoons from my yard that I froze in the summer. I don’t think anyone will complain about saskatoon pie for thanksgiving do you?

  49. I will be baking another double batch of what my son calls “dwarf bread” which is Jessica Fisher’s (goodcheapeats.com) Wholesome Energy Bars with a couple minor substitutions. He takes them to school on especially long days when he knows he’s going to be hungry, again. Tomorrow I need to make the second double batch of the school year.

  50. I’m collecting soup recipes I want to try. Haven’t started using them yet. I’m waiting for it to get a little bit colder first. But I’m sure I’ll start trying then soon!

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