The Golden Door Spiced Pear Cake Recipe - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

The Golden Door Spiced Pear Cake Recipe

Spiced Pear Cake | Pamela Salzman

My summer wasn’t exactly a restful one.  I finished writing and photographing my book (due out in April 2017!), prepared 2 kids for college and moved them in, and planned Mr. Picky’s September bar mitzvah.  After I left the girls at school, I did something I have never done before.  I went out of town — by myself.  For four whole days.  And when I say “by myself,” I mean no husband, no kids, no girlfriends, no nobody.  And you know what?  Except for my wedding and giving brith to my three angels, those four days were among the best I’ve ever had.

Spiced Pear Cake | Pamela Salzman

You may have already seen from my Instagram at the end of August that I went to the Golden Door, spa and resort just outside of Escondido, California.  I know a lot about nutrition and nourishing oneself with good food.  I know that exercise and proper rest are both important components of a healthful lifestyle.  But ironically, I am not great about taking time for myself and slowing down.  I think a lot of parents, especially moms, give to their children and spouses and work and then at the end of the day, there’s nothing left for themselves.    Our lives have become so busy and stressful, I don’t know if there’s enough kale in the world to balance us out.

Spiced Pear Cake | Pamela Salzman

Stepping through the Golden Door doors was like pressing reset button both physically and mentally.  And the best part was that someone else was taking care of me — what a concept!  From start to finish, everything about the Golden Door was heaven.  I started each day with a 5:30 am wake-up call in order to meet the guide for a (optional) 5:45 am hike.  A healthy breakfast waited me in my room when I returned and my customized day continued after that. I tried new exercise classes like boxing and TRX and zumba and I had a massage every day.  Every day!  The food was amazing, and most of it was pulled from their organic gardens.  And I met the most interesting women who were also there for some self-care.

Spiced Pear Cake | Pamela Salzman

One of the highlights of my visit was a cooking class with the executive chef after dinner one night.  Not only was Chef Greg absolutely charming and so passionate about healthful food, it was super fun for me to be on the other side of the kitchen for once!  He showed us how to make a delicious salad dressing with preserved lemons and tarragon as well as how to smoke salmon.  Both were off the charts delicious.  But what I loved most of all was this pear spice cake he taught us.  It was packed with pears and had the perfect balance of sweetness and spices.  I’ve been waiting until now to share the recipe with you since it is absolutely perfect for fall.  In fact, I am making this for the break fast on Wednesday night.

Spiced Pear Cake | Pamela Salzman

I adapted the recipe slightly from Greg’s version which called for all rice flour and a non-standard sized loaf pan.  One thing he mentioned that I like to do as well with recipes is to share other substitutions.  He suggested fresh figs would work well in place of the pears, as would apples.  I personally don’t love rice flour which I find a little gritty.  But a good gluten-free flour blend you can use is by King Arthur.  Leave the spice blend as is because it is perfection!

I like to think of September/October as the start of a new year, which is a good time to reflect on the past year and set goals for the  future.  One thing for sure is that it is never too late to make a commitment to your health and well being and a little pear cake never hurt.

5.0 from 4 reviews
Golden Door Spiced Pear Cake
Serves: 1 loaf
  • 2 pears, cored and diced small
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup muscovado sugar or brown sugar
  • ½ cup unrefined coconut oil, melted, plus more for greasing
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or your favorite gluten-free flour blend*
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x5-inch loaf pan with coconut oil. Line with parchment paper, if desired.
  2. Place all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir gently to combine, until a very thick batter forms.
  3. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top is firm.
  4. Serve warm and refrigerate leftovers.
I like King Arthur Multi-purpose Gluten-free Flour (sub 1 for 1) + you have to add 1 teaspoon xanthan gum.


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  1. Love this delicious and simple cake. I have been making it since you first posted it a few years ago. I tried Einkhorn flour in it tonight for the first time. I used 1 to 1 flour ratio but added an extra egg per the suggestions for Einkhorn. It turned out as good as ever.

    • That’s wonderful! I love using einkorn flour. Thank you for sharing, Nicole 🙂
      I’m glad this recipe has been a favorite.

  2. I just made this gluten-free using King Arthur flour. Tit was delicious even if a bit crumbly. Next time I will try muffins!! Great recior, it is a keeper. I’m the Celiac & my husband loved it. Said you would never know it’s gluten-free!!

    • Great!

  3. Here in Australia we don’t have something called wholemeal “pastry flour” . I took it to mean (after some searching) as wholemeal plain flour and just added the 1/2 tsp of baking soda as per the recipe. That hasn’t worked which is disappointing as I am taking it for afternoon tea and it is as flat as tack!. Further searching indicates to make it self raising to add 2 teaspoons of baking soda. Smells great though and will serve with clotted cream.

    • Hmmm, ok it’s not the same as wholemeal plain flour, but I don’t see why that wouldn’t work. It’s not a very high bread. The chef at the Golden Door makes it with rice flour, but it doesn’t hold together as well as a gluten flour.

    • I live in Melbourne, Australia, specialty stores e.g. organic grocers, have “cake” or “cake and biscuit” flour which is the same as pastry flour, but it is not self-raising and looking at the recipe the flour used is also not self-raising. I find the safest bet is to sift flour when making a cake. Hope it turned out well, I can’t wait to try it.

      • This flour is not self-rising! It should turn out great 🙂

  4. Just made it tonight – and it was devoured after dinner (two teenage sons and one husband – this is why I don’t typically bake. There is no savoring, just devouring. Ha!) Everyone loved it, savored it in their own way and appreciated a home made dessert. Oh, and I forgot to melt the oil, so I stirred it a lot until moist, but it was very crumbly. I’ll remember to melt the oil next time.

    • I love this cake. Since it’s gluten-free and chock full of fruit, it tends to be a little crumbly. It’s better to allow it to cool fully for it to slice better. Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Just made this for Shabbat dessert last night. So delicious! Subbed almonds for walnuts b/c of allergy. After my husband asked for seconds, I suggested that I should spend a few days alone at the Golden Door in the future. 😉

    • LOL!!

  6. How many figs would you recommend using instead of pears?

    • I’d try 6, diced. Let me know how it turns out!

  7. I made this over the weekend and it was fabulous! I intended on making the gluten-free version but I had the wrong flour, so I did use whole wheat pastry flour. Everyone loved it! ( And I had home made candy for my one gluten-free guest.) A total winner recipe and super simple. I will make it again with gluten-free flour this week and see if my husband can tell the difference. This cake will be perfect for Thanksgiving weekend breakfasts…

    • Yes! Perfect for the holidays! Thanks for your feedback — I always appreciate it.

  8. I baked this last night and it was wonderful! We all liked it. I used one and a half Granny Smith apples instead of pears… but that was because I was distracted by my 2 year old in Whole Foods and walked right past the pears. I want to try it again with the Oaktown Pumpkin Spice mix!

    • Ooooh, that would be great with the Oaktown Spice mix!!

  9. Looks amazing!
    Which type of pear do you recommend using?

    • Chef Greg recommends any type of pear, although I am partial to Bartlett. 🙂

  10. Is almond meal an ok option to the flour?
    btw if you do the Golden Door again next year you have the makings of a very fine tradition

  11. The spiced pear cake sounds fabulous . . . can’t
    wait to try it. I will consider it my “Zen” recipe — the closest I’ll ever get to the Golden Door!

  12. Love this! The cake looks delicious and the message is so true — and needed!

    • I have to remind myself of the same message regularly. 🙂

  13. Pamela, this looks great! If you wanted to make muffins instead of a loaf, at what temperature would you bake them? And for how long?

    • Still bake at 350 and I would guess 20-30 minutes is the range.

  14. Even if we can’t get to the Golden Door, your message was really quite inspiring! Thanks! And thanks for the recipe which I am going to make pronto! Pears are my husband’s favorite fruit.

    • I love pears, too. SO underrated!

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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