Add interest to the holiday dessert table with this warmly spiced homemade cake, which is topped with pears and pecans. The beautifully arranged pear slices make it a spectacular way to end a meal. It would also be a fabulous treat to serve at a festive vegan brunch

By Shelli McConnell,


  • 2 medium pears
  • 1¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup light molasses
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • Powdered sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Core and cut 1 pear lengthwise into very thin slices. Peel and chop remaining pear.
  • In a large bowl stir together the next seven ingredients (through cloves). In a medium bowl stir together the next four ingredients (through vanilla) and 2 Tbsp. hot water. Add applesauce mixture to flour mixture; whisk just until well combined. Stir in chopped pear. Spoon batter into a 9-inch round or square silicone baking pan, spreading evenly. Arrange pear slices over batter. Sprinkle with pecans.
  • Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly in pan on a wire rack. If desired, remove cake from pan. Sprinkle cake lightly with powdered sugar. Serve warm or cooled.

Comments (37)

(5 from 22 votes)

Recipe Rating

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Wonderful recipe ~ tastes so good! I realize it is a little heavy on the sugars and sodium, but as a treat now and again, or as something to take to an event for sharing ~ absolutely delicious!

Peggy Galbraith

This has definitely become a favourite dessert for me. It is so moist while totally oil free. The only adjustment I do is cutting the molasses in half and the maple syrup in half. Absolutely love it!


I’ve made this cake many times. I’m about to make it again for Christmas tomorrow. I find I don’t have light molasses. I can of course sub maple syrup or leave it out to cut the sugar content. Has anyone tried date paste? I may try that for a more WFPB version.


This was so delicious! My husband asked me if we were supposed to be eating this, it tasted so good! I used half the amount of molasses and then used 1/4 cup of hot water instead of the 2 T. Already asking for it again!


This was delicious. I halved the sugary components- only adding the 1/2 cup of maple syrup with no molasses. It was perfectly sweet and very moist. Is also takes much longer to cook. Mine was in for 70 minutes before the fork came out clean.


Definitely cutting the sugar on this recipe....yikes.


It is almost impossible to print these recipes... neither of my emails are accepted! How can that be? Screenshots work for those having a similar problem.


Way too much sugar!! How is this "healthy eating"?


I agree this is far too much refined sugar. I usually just skip the sugar in these recipes, replacing it with a touch of date syrup if anything, and they still work out well.


This is “off the charts”…one of the best holiday desserts/coffeecakes ever. I’ve taken it to various gatherings in the last few months, and people simply can’t believe no oil. I used whole wheat flour and cut the sweeteners back some. Beautiful presentation and tastes like gingerbread.


I agree with Sondra. I gasped when I read the 1/2 cup of light molasses and 1/2 cup of maple syrup. What? This does not sound like WFPB eating. Why is FOK drifting back into the SAD lane? I did not make this, with good reason. The red flags went up just by reading the ingredient list. Yellow flag? Most likely a stop sign.


Do you have a gluten free version?

Deborah Middleton

Entirely TOO MUCH SUGAR!! 30 grams of sugar is over the top. Red flag indeed. My diabetic husband could not eat this after dinner or in between meals. Perhaps the dieticians at Forks over Knives should rethink some of their pastry recipes.

Lindsay Parks

So easy and deliciously moist! I used regular whole wheat flour with 1 T cornstarch. Used peeled Bosc pears. Baked in a very old black 9” square pan….it was done after 35 minutes per the toothpick test. Based on other comments, ovens and pans vary, so just check your bake time. Guests raved about the pear “gingerbread”!


Can I sub more maple syrup for the molasses? Hate to buy molasses for just one recipe. Thanks!

Sondra Davies, MS Nutrition and Exercise Science

I've noticed that over the last year or two, the Forks Over Knives recipes have been sliding into the land of sweeteners and flours, and drifting away from whole plant foods. Those who are familiar with the research of Dr Alan Goldhamer DC and Dr Joel Fuhrman MD would caution that feeding sweet things like this cake to the taste buds sets up the body's insulin and fat-storage response, as well as the desire for more and more sweets. Flagged with a Big Yellow Caution sign. These types of recipes give the illusion of being healthy and will actually contribute to the overconsumption of calories.

Jo-Ann B.

I agree with you Sondra. I input the recipe into Myfitnesspal and assuming 8 servings as indicated in the picture, it was 30 grams of added sugar (not including the pears) per serving. That's more than the recommended daily limit for added sugars of 24 grams for women. As one of the advantages of eating healthy is not to have to count calories (for those of us who want to lose weight), this recipe could be a problem.

Sue Ann Johnson

I make this often. It's easy to prepare, simple to add the pears and it's delicious and beautiful. I have shared with non-vegans and I get rave reviews. I have made this with whole wheat all-purpose flour previously with excellent results. I prefer to use Bosc pears when available. I haven't tried to make this with Gluten free flour blend, but worth a try.


This cake looks so good, but I’m gluten intolerant. Is there a substitute for the whole wheat pastry flour that I can use?


What kind of pears should be used in this recipe? Thank you.


Has anyone tried to make it with golden syrup? I think it is known as light treacle in the US.

Lauren G

I have! Works great!


This cake reminds me of Christmas when I opened the oven to take it out. I used grape molasses instead of light molasses and it tasted divine. I had to cook it for another 10 to 15 minutes. I purchased the grape molasses from a Turkish supermarket.


this was so delicious and looks so beautiful with the pear slices arranjed on top! I used sliced almonds instead of the pecans and used half of the sweetener :)


Directions were easy to follow & I already had most of the items in my pantry. My 1st vegan wfpb cake & it turned out better than I thought. even my meat eating husband like it. this is a keeper

Monique J. Manning

Mine came out as 4 stars, but I'm giving this 5 stars for the recipe as is - I couldn't get pastry flour so I used 2 TBL cornstarch (sifted) + 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour (for each cup appropriate to recipe) and it was slightly rubbery due to the difference in gluten, so I will definitely remake with pastry flour. I also substituted brown sugar for the molasses and the taste was great. My dinner party was happy with it and they gladly took the leftovers home for breakfast! Also, super easy to make and a breeze to clean up.


Wonderful! Made this twice for Christmas family parties and everyone raved over it! Definitely a staple dessert when the weather turns cool.

Laurie Holden

I love this! It tastes like gingerbread. I baked mine for 60 minutes.


I am so glad to hear you say that - I love this cake, made it twice, and both times it needs way more than 45 mins to bake! Whew I kept thinking I got the ingredients wrong. Yep a good 60 minutes for me too!


Absolutely fabulous! I have been making this since the recipe came out in the Forks over Knives magazine. Loved by all who take a bite! It pairs beautifully with a Riesling!


It looks delicious but I have a question? I don't get molasses, is there a substitute? Thanks for sharing!!

Laurie Holden

You can just use all maple syrup.

Linda Sharp

Looks lovely. Would this freeze well?

Kelly Brunell

What do you recommend as a substitute for pecans for nut free option to accommodate nut allergies?


I made this cake recently for my non-vegan friends and it was a BIG hit. I did not find whole wheat pastry flour so I used regular pastry flour and I was generous with the spices - ie. heaping spoonfuls.

Rosemari Via

Please disregard my previous message. I shouldn't read a recipe while having a massive headache. Thanks.

Rosemari Via

Hi, I have a question about the "applesauce mixture." I read the recipe a few times and I can't figure out what it is the applesauce mixture!! Do I mix the applesauce with another ingredient before adding to the flour mixture? Please clarify your recipe. Thanks.

About the Author

Headshot of Shelli McConnell

About the Author

Shelli McConnell

Shelli McConnell graduated with a bachelor of science in consumer food science and a minor in journalism from Iowa State University. She began her career as a home economist in the Better Homes & Gardens test kitchen before moving into an editorial position within DotDash Meredith. She has since freelanced for 25 years and has served as an editorial project manager for many books and magazines, including three editions of the Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book. She has also developed thousands of recipes for publications including Forks Over Knives magazine; Eat This, Not That!; Diabetic Living; Better Homes & Gardens; The Magnolia Journal; and more. McConnell loves to entertain and inspire, so when she’s not in her office, she’s usually in her kitchen. Find her on LinkedIn.
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