i’m not a seder schlimazel – almond pear-blueberry cake

by hungryrabbit on March 30, 2012

Almond Pear-Blueberry Cake

When I posted my Spiced Apple Cake last year for Passover, I expressed my deepest desire to be invited to a Passover seder. (To get in the right mood, I did write the post while sampling bitter herbs.) The response was overwhelming–I received invites from all over the twitterverse. Though most of them were from far away places, I appreciated each offer.

As this year’s Passover soon approaches, this goy with a yarmulke-to-go still has no local invitation to feast over pot roast, kosher wine, and unleavened desserts. All I want is a little . . . Tradition!. Oy, I’ll probably end up at the half-emptied gym again amongst the goyim and lapsed Jews.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about purchasing extra eggs from the Farmer’s Market. They come in handy on this occasion. Because of the lack of leavening agents in Passover desserts, eggs are the go-to ingredient for my recipes. This year, I decided to add a little bit of my Asian heritage to the dessert — the aroma of ginger and five spice. May this dessert will inspire a new fusion cuisine — HebrAsian.

Maybe if I kvetch a bit more, I’ll be accepted into the home of the chosen people for a nosh. I’m not a schlimazel. Look, I can do it: Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam . . .

Almond Pear-Blueberry Cake

Recipe adapted from Arthur Schwartz
yield: one 8-inch cake


5 medium Anjou pears, about 2-1/4 pounds
1/3 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup crystalized ginger, finely chopped
1/4 cup brandy
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest, about 1 lemon, freshly grated
3/4 cup slivered almonds, chopped and toasted
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup matzo cake meal
1/4 cup almond flour or almond meal
1/4 sliced almonds (topping)


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch-round by 3-inch-high straight-sided cake pans with nonstick cooking spray; line bottom with parchment rounds and spray paper round, set aside

2. Combine blueberries, crystalized ginger and brandy in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave at 50% power for 90 seconds. Remove bowl from microwave and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Drained and set aside.

3. Stir butter, oil and fresh ginger in a separate measuring cup. Set aside.

4. Add sugar and lemon zest to a small bowl, rub with fingers until fully incorporated.

5. Combine 3/4 cup of lemon/sugar mixture, chopped almonds, ground ginger, and five spice in a medium bowl; set aside.

6.. Peeled, cored and halved the pears, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

7. Add eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat on medium-high speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat in remaining 3/4 cup lemon/sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, until mixture is thick and foamy, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, slowly pour in oil mixture until combined. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in matzo cake meal and almond flour with a spatula quickly until fully incorporated.

8. Pour a third of the batter into prepared cake pan. Sprinkle over a third of the almond mixture, then a third of pear slices, and follow by a third of blueberry/ginger mixture. Repeat until you finish all three layers. Sprinkle sliced almonds over top of cake.

9. Transfer cake to oven and bake until the sides of the cake pull away from the baking dish very slightly and topping begins to caramelize, about 75-90 minutes.

10. Remove cake from oven, and rest on rack for 30 minutes. Place a piece of parchment on top and press down lightly to compress the cake. Leave parchment on for 5 minutes, place plate on top of cake and invert to release it from cake pan. Place a serving platter on the bottom of the cake and re-invert, so the cake is right-side-up. Let cool completely, about 1 hour.

Recipe Notes:

1. If your cake pan is 2-inch high, you can make a parchment collar.

2. If you practice a strict Kosher diet. omit butter and increase the canola oil to 2/3 cup.

3. Brandy can be substitute with kosher wine or orange juice.

4. Cake can be covered tightly with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, as the flavor improves with age.

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Gail March 30, 2012 at 7:30 am

Oy, you poor boy! Such a gorgeous cake and nowhere to go! If we weren’t going to Fire Island, we’d have you over, but you’d have to lead the seder!

Mollie Frances March 30, 2012 at 10:49 am

Wow! This looks like my favorite type of cake- dense and eggy with interesting flavors. I can’t wait to try it, of course I’ll have to simplify it a little to make it sugar and gluten free. Yum, thanks for posting this.


Nicole March 30, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Seriously beautiful cake, so well photographed. I wish I were having a seder, (if I were a better Jew!!!!) I’d invite ya!!

Betty Ann @Mango_Queen March 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm

What a delightful post & the Almond Pear Blueberry cake looks divine! You are such a creative genius, Ken! Thanks for sharing. You have to write a post-Passover post & tell us where you went. See you soon :-)

Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen March 31, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I stayed in your web for over half an hour, just looking and reading your posts and beautiful pictures! I would invite you to any dinner! 😉

Teri March 31, 2012 at 5:22 pm

What a beautiful cake and it looks delicious. I definitely want a piece so I will be waiting for it at work, hint, hint, ( I’m Mitch’s friend).

Amrita April 1, 2012 at 9:05 am

Almonds in cake are such a classic and your photographs are beautiful!

If I wanted to replace 1/2 cup matzo cake meal with something else, do you have any suggestions?

hungryrabbit April 1, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Hi Amrita, thanks for visiting my blog. If it’s not for Passover, u can use AP flour. If so, then substitute w almond flour.

Linda April 1, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Wow Ken – very impressive blog. Beautiful photos and man – the treats look divine. I googled coconut cupcakes and found your post from last Easter, which I’ve bookmarked. Then I checked out your homepage and the Nutella cookies, also bookmarked. I’m pretty happy to have stumbled upon your blog!
I do have one question re: the frosting on the coconut cupcake post…one reader commented the buttercream didn’t come out right – before I make them, any suggestions?

hungryrabbit April 1, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Hi Linda, first off, thank you for visiting my blog. I think her problem might be the butter being too soft when making the buttercream. My rule of thumb w softened butter is, if you hold the stick of butter in your hand and try to bend it, it should yield a slight curve and not fall apart. Make sure you whip the buttercream for the entire 4 minutes to get it fluffy, this also helps the buttercream to set up nicely. If the buttercream does turn out too soft, place it in the fridge for 30 minutes and it should set up. Let me know how it turns out. -Ken

Sweetsugarbelle April 2, 2012 at 3:45 am

You are hilarious!!! I want to attend a Seder too…I’m thinking you have a way better chance then me! As usual, gorgeous cake, Ken!

Mary April 4, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Ken, funny that today would be the day I hopped on your blog to check it out. I am in dire need of some new Passover dessert ideas for this year. This cake sounds delicious and I love the photos. I also loved your Apple cake recipe from last year. And, quite a few other recipes I happened upon while looking through past posts. BTW – if you want to take a quick trip to L.A. this weekend, you are welcome at my Seder table!

Jay @ LocalFood.me April 4, 2012 at 8:35 pm

The food looks terrific, as usual. Can I ask a non-food related question? Where did you get that vibrant blue tablecloth? Fantastic.

hungryrabbit April 4, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Hi Jay, thanks for visiting my blog, While I was traveling this past holiday in Asia, I found that fabric in Dali, China.

Jamie April 11, 2012 at 6:25 am

Baby, where is that Jewish husband lurking? Isn’t it his responsibilty to get you to a seder? And *sigh* I guess I do have to move to New York if for anything to make a seder for you and my own goy. But promise me a fabulous cake like this one? *hug*

Andrea May 4, 2012 at 12:51 am

WOW! This is thee most beautiful cake I have ever seen! I am dead serious-its perfect-its boarder line seductive. This is definitely on my buck list of things to make! Thank you for being so talented.

Susan March 21, 2013 at 10:30 am

This looks so great I want to make it for Passover! We’re having a crowd so I’d make two cakes, but — I don’t have an 8″ spring form. I do have a 10″ and a 7″, which by my calculation total to area (& volume) just slightly bigger than two 8″ pans. So if I double the recipe, amount-wise it should work. But will it cook OK in a larger pan, or is there something I need to do to adapt the recipe? Thanks!!

Susan March 21, 2013 at 10:33 am

Forgot to mention — I’d invite you this year, but I’m in Virginia!

hungryrabbit March 21, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Hi Susan, I think the 7″ pan should be about the same as an 8″-pan. The cake in the 10″-pan will have less height, so it might require less time; just keep an eye on the cake around the 50-60 min mark. Happy Baking! – Ken

kelly @ kellybakes March 22, 2013 at 8:31 am

Remember how I said that this year’s post was my favorite? Well… it might just be a tie with this one, for the flavors alone. Beautiful cake, Ken!

Susan March 22, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Thanks for the quick response Ken! Being in Virginia, I had a merry chase today finding “five spices” and crystallized ginger — but did find them at an Asian Grocery.

Susan March 30, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Turned out AMAZING! Worth the extra effort to find the ingredients, grind up almonds info flour, etc. I was able to double the recipe and then make one 7″ and one 10″ — watched carefully but the cook time was about what you have in the recipe for 8″.
The only thing I did differently was to increase the amount of blueberries (and brandy to soak them in.) The 10″ size worked well for our large-ish seder.

hungryrabbit March 30, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Hi Susan, I’m glad it all worked out and that you had a great seder. Thanks again for your visiting my blog and hope you’ll continue and enjoy my posts. -Ken

Ilana March 31, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Oh my goodness! Waiting for it to come out of the oven. It is looking and smelling amazing. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Kathy February 20, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Can the recipe be converted to non passover and how. Please let me know if possible. Many Thanks. Kathy

hungryrabbit February 20, 2014 at 10:55 pm

Hi Kathy, Though I haven’t tried it myself, I’m sure you can switch out the matzo cake meal and use AP flour or other flour of your choosing. Please keep me posted if you try it. -Ken

Amy A April 5, 2014 at 5:38 am

come to my passover! just outside of london. it is a wonderful time for family, food and warmth.
thank you for the beautiful recipe.

Sharon April 12, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Is the measurement for the almond meal a quarter cup? Above just says “1/4 almond meal.” Thanks.

hungryrabbit April 14, 2014 at 10:04 am

Hi Sharon, yes it’s 1/4 cup, thank you for pointing out the error. I have revised the recipe. Happy Baking! -Ken

Randee April 15, 2014 at 4:12 pm

I just tried making this cake as I love to bake. I had a difficult time spreading the cake mixture into layers (as it was thick)when trying to pour it into the cake pan and didn’t have enough of anything (except for pear slices) to make 2 layers. Wondering what went wrong:(.

hungryrabbit April 15, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Hi Randee, There’s not a lot of batter. It’s just enough to bind the pears together during baking. The beauty of this cake is it’s mostly fruit. Happy Baking! -Ken

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