Before making this cake, I knew that I didn't want to do a fruit filling and I didn't want to put the pears into the batter (for no particular reason - just the mood I was in, I guess). That left me with one option: cooking the pears on top of the cake.
I caramelized the pears a bit and used some of the leftover sauce to pour on top of the pears before adding the batter to the cake pan. This step gives the cake a bit of a brown sugar glaze, another solid flavor addition to the honey and pears.
How good does this cake look, even without the honey cream cheese buttercream? It's already got great flavors and texture on its own.
I also love the cream cheese in the frosting - adds a little tang to the sweetness of the rest of the cake.
And some earlier versions of the cake...
For the Honey and Pear Cake (The Cake Blog, caramelized pears added by me)
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 pears, pealed and sliced
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
For the Honey Cream Cheese Buttercream (adapted from The Cake Blog)
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
6-7 cups confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons honey
For the Honey and Pear Cake
1. Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the water and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar has completely melted. Add the sliced pears and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 8" round pans.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
4. In a small bowl, mix together the buttermilk, honey and vanilla. Set aside.
5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes.
6. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
7. Gradually add in the dry and wet ingredients, alternating between the two, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
8. In two of the pans, evenly place the pears on the buttered and floured parchment paper. Pour 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce over the pears in each pan. Save the remaining sauce in an airtight container to use as a cake soak for the pear-less cake after it's baked.
9. Evenly divide the batter between the three cake pans, being careful to gently spread the batter over the pears.
10. Bake for 30 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
11. Let cool in pans for 5-10 minutes, then remove to wire rack to finish cooling.
For the Honey and Cream Cheese Buttercream
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about three minutes.
2. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar on low speed until it is all combined. Increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat for another 2-3 minutes.
3. Mix in honey.
1. Place first cake layer, pear-side up, on a cake plate. Cover the top of the layer with about a cup of buttercream. I like to use a piping bag to ensure I evenly cover the cake.
2. Place second cake layer, the one without pears, on top of the frosting and cover it in frosting.
3. Place the third cake layer, pear-side down, on top of the second layer of frosting. Frost a crumb coat around the entire cake and set in the freezer for about 15 minutes to set before applying the remaining frosting.