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Gingerbread Cake with Root-Beer-Poached Pears

Christopher Hirsheimer; food styling by Melissa Hamilton

Servings: 8 (with leftover cake)

Root beer’s aromatic, spicy sweetness makes it a great poaching liquid for pears. Serve both the gingerbread cake and the pears warm or at room temperature. Note: be sure your cake pan has a volume of at least 10 cups.


For the gingerbread

  • 1/2 oz. (1 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 3 large eggs
  • 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1-3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup root beer, preferably an artisanal brand

For the pears

  • 4 firm-ripe Bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored
  • Four 12-fl.-oz. bottles root beer, preferably an artisanal brand
  • Freshly grated zest of 2 medium lemons

For Serving

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 800
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 340
  • Fat (g): 39
  • Saturated Fat (g): 11
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 12
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 15
  • Cholesterol (mg): 115
  • Sodium (mg): 550
  • Carbohydrates (g): 112
  • Fiber (g): 4
  • Protein (g): 6


Make the gingerbread

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Coat an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan (at least 10 cups in volume) with the butter and lightly dust with the granulated sugar. In a small bowl, stir the oil, molasses, and eggs until combined. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.

    In a small pot, bring the brown sugar and root beer to a boil. Meanwhile, add the molasses mixture to the flour and stir to combine. Add the hot root beer mixture and quickly beat until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack until warm, about 40 minutes. Invert the pan to remove the cake and turn the cake right side up. (The cake may be prepared up to 4 hours ahead.)

Poach the pears

  • In a medium saucepan, combine the pears, root beer, and lemon zest. Bring the mixture to a slow simmer over medium-low heat and cook until the pears are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. With a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the pears to a plate. Bring the poaching liquid to a boil and boil until reduced to a syrup, about 15 minutes (watch carefully towards the end because it can burn quickly); you should have about 3/4 cup. (The pears and syrup may be prepared up to 4 hours ahead. If the syrup thickens, reheat before serving.)

To serve

  • In a chilled medium bowl, beat the cream and sugar with a hand mixer until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Cut the gingerbread into 8 pieces of whatever size you choose and place one on each of 8 plates. Arrange a pear half against each piece of gingerbread and drizzle each with the syrup. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and serve.


Rate or Review

Reviews (14 reviews)

  • scottmmm | 12/25/2011

    I used a 8x8x2 pan suggested by the by FC_Editors. What a mess. Burnt smoke filled house and a destroyed oven. And now, I need to start over...with a different recipe.

  • Anshelm96 | 11/29/2011

    What else could you poach the pears in instead of rootbeer? I don't like rootbeer

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