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This elegant version of a sunken pear cake is true to its flavors and hides the perfect surprise on the inside, making it incredibly moist and fluffy. This bread gets a powerful infusion of fresh ginger, maple syrup and white wine to make it even more festive.

Reprinted with permission from Vegan Holiday Cooking by Kirsten Kaminski, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo credit: Kirsten Kaminski

Poached Pear Chai Bread [Vegan]

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Cooking Time



For the Poached Pears:

  • 2 medium pears (any variety)
  • 2 1/2 cups (600 ml) water
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) dry white wine

For the Cake:

  • 1 tablespoon (7 g) ground flaxseed
  • 3 tablespoons(45 ml) water
  • 1 cup (240 ml) almond or soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) date syrup
  • 1/2 cup (113 g) pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups (230 g) spelt flour
  • 1 tablespoon (11 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (96 g) coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Pinch of salt

For the Orange Glaze:

  • Juice of 1 orange, or as needed
  • 1/2 cup (65 g) powdered sugar


  1. To make the poached pears, slice the bottoms off the pears and peel them, leaving the stems attached. In a medium pot over high heat, bring the water, maple syrup, ginger and wine (if using) to a boil. Place the pears in the pot so that they stand upright and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 6 to 7 minutes, until the pears are just tender, then carefully remove them from the pot and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a 9 x 5–inch (23 x 13–cm) loaf pan with parchment paper.
  3. To make the cake, make a flax egg by combining the flaxseed with the water in a small bowl. Set the mixture aside and let it thicken.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the milk with the vinegar and let the milk curdle for 5 minutes to create vegan buttermilk. Add the oil, date syrup, pumpkin puree and flax egg and combine.
  5. In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, coconut sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and salt. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined (don’t overmix). Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and gently place the pears inside so that they are standing upright, surrounded by the batter. Bake, covered, for 35 minutes. Uncover the loaf pan and bake for another 10 minutes. Let the bread cool slightly before transferring it to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  6. To make the orange glaze, combine the orange juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl and mix until smooth and pourable. (Add more or less orange juice depending on the desired consistency.) Drizzle the glaze on top of the bread and serve while it’s still warm.


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