Pear and Beer Cake!

Pear and Beer Cake

Happy New Year!

2017 is my year. I keep repeating it to anyone that will listen. I told it to myself in the mirror, trying to pat my cowlick down. I told it to the smoke that danced from a blown-out candle. I told it to my boyfriend as we held hands at the spa in my hometown of Bedford. I told it to my mother when she was doing dishes and to Milo when he was snoring on my shoulder while I answered emails.

I am ready to embrace this year. I hope it decides to embrace me back.

My resolutions are in invisible ink. Lemon juice on parchment that fades. A starburst behind my eyelids. I'll remember them, but they are a tetragrammaton I can't utter just yet. I am working on myself, on my food and my words. I am working on forgiveness, too. It's not at all easy, but I'm 25 and growing.

A year ago I moved back to Pennsylvania. A year ago, I stopped worrying about money and a career and the eternal sunshine of a coast I never fully understood. I made this cake to remember that time, to look back on who I was and how I have grown. I made a French cake, one from Dorie Greenspan, and spiked it with Yuengling and roughly chopped pears, so dull and brown and juicy in their diffidence. 

Pear and Beer Marie-Hélène Cake

Pear and Beer Cake

This cake is a throwback to one of my oldest recipes I ever baked in California. It's Dorie Greenspan's Marie-Hélène apple cake and it is, in its original format, delicious. As I said, I wanted to honor last year's move home by tying in flavors of Pennsylvania with Pittsburgh's most famous beer, Yuengling. This cake is super moist, super easy, and honestly, one of my favorites (but that goes with anything Dorie does). Of course, feel free to omit the beer and sub in apples. Further, I made this in a compact, taller cake pan. If using a standard 8 or 9 inch pan, your baking time will be reduced by about 15 minutes.


  • 1 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 1 TB cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 pears, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
  • 3 TB beer
  • 2 TB dark brown sugar
  • 2 TB orange juice
  • 1 TB orange zest
  • 1/2 TB pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 8 TB butter, melted and cooled
  • Confectioner's sugar, for dusting


  1. Preheat oven to 350*F and prepare your pan with butter, flour, and parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt
  3. In a separate bowl, stir pears, beer, brown sugar, juice, zest, and vanilla together, making sure to coat the pears evenly with the liquids
  4. Finally, in your stand mixer (or a third bowl!), whisk together eggs until foamy, then continue whisking while you slowly pour in your cup of white sugar
  5. Create a well in the center of your dry mixture, then, with a rubber spatula, slowly stir in the egg mixture. It will be a bit thick and very dry
  6. Now, add your butter and the pear mixture, including the liquids in the bowl
  7. Stir again with your rubber spatula
  8. Pour into your prepared cake pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Check at one hour for doneness
  9. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan
  10. Dust with confectioner's sugar before serving
Pear and Beer Cake
Pear and Beer Cake
Pear and Beer Cake
Pear and Beer Cake