This recipe developed from my go-to Rosh Hashana dessert of date cake and roasted pears, I would serve them side by side and drizzle the roasting liquid from the pears over vanilla ice cream for an easy yet festive dessert. I have always felt that pears were a totally undervalued fruit and cooking them either by poaching or roasting shows them off brilliantly. And as to Silan, many say that when the Bible spoke of the Land of Milk and Honey, the milk was almond milk and the honey came from dates, thus my introduction of date honey to our Rosh Hashana table.
One day all my mussing over dates and pears made me question; what if the pears were baked directly in the cake? The result is just so delicious, it was a revelation!
- 4 pears, peeled, cut in half, core removed
- 115g (⅓ cup) silan (date honey)
- 80g (⅓ cup) maple syrup
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 green cardamom pods, crushed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 240g (2 cups) self-raising flour or (240g (2 cups) plain/all-purpose flour + 2 baking powder)
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
- 120ml (½ cup) hot water
- 250g (2 cups) chopped dates (or the same weight whole pitted dates)
- 155g (½ cup) silan (date honey)
- 200g (1 cup) dark brown sugar
- 220g (1 cup) vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
For roasted pears:
- Heat oven to 180℃ (350℉). Place the pares in a small roasting tin. In a medium bowl combine the silan, maple syrup, lemon juice, water, and salt. Add the crushed cardamom pods to the mixture. Pour the silan mixture over the pears in the tin and add the cinnamon stick to the tin. Roast for 15 minutes if your pears are ripe or up to 30 minutes if your pears are unripe. You want pears that are fork-tender, but not falling apart. Remove the pears from the tin and strain the roasting liquid, reserve the liquid for serving.
For the cake:
- Lower oven temperature to 160℃ (320℉). Line 2 medium loaf tins or one extra-large with baking paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and whisk well.
- Prepare coffee by combining the coffee granules and hot water. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, place the coffee mixture, dates, silan, brown sugar, and oil, process to a smooth paste. Add the eggs through the feeding tube one at a time. Pour the date mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture, and using a spatula mix until all the flour has been incorporated into the batter. Pour mixture into the prepared loaf tin(s).
- If adding the pears to the cake, place the pears on top and push them ever so slightly into the cake.
- Bake for 50-80 minutes depending on the size of your loaf tin. Test by piercing with a knife, the cake is ready when a few crumbs adhere to the knife. Cool for 10 minutes before serving along with the liquid from the roasted pears.
- Cake can be made up to 3 days ahead of time, store well wrapped at room temperature.