One of my fellow librarians gave me a whole bunch of windfall pears and I didn't know what to do with them -- can only eat so many -- so I cast about on the Internet until I found a recipe at Allrecipes for "Fresh Pear Cake."
I made a few alterations to the recipe -- less sugar, walnuts for pecans, added ground ginger, and I only soaked the (very ripe) pears for about as long as it took me to preheat the oven and mix everything else together. I also ground the cloves myself so my half tsp was an approximation.
I'm really pleased that the pear chunks, while very tender, still kept their shape and didn't dissolve into the batter or fall to the bottom of the cake.
Oddly, this cake tastes better on the second or third day (as if it needs to mellow a bit?). This is true for other similar cakes I've made (zucchini, blueberry, tomato soup, etc) and I don't know why -- I just plan on making it an extra day ahead of time if I'm bringing it somewhere. (Or, you know, I could try wrapping it in cheesecloth soaked in pear brandy -- as if it were a fruitcake -- but that might make it too moist. Hmmm. Will have to think on that).
Also, I have no idea what kind of pears I used. My co-worker didn't know and the pears themselves just look, well, rather generic. I'm guessing they're "Yellow Bartlett" because they've come ripe at the right time for Bartletts and did turn a beautiful yellow as they ripened. Regardless of their variety, the windfall pears where delicious and almost make me wish we had a pear tree of our own.
Over the course of my childhood, my parents planted many fruit trees. Alas, they were all, over time, lost to deer or hurricanes or ice storms and this caused me to think fruit trees are not worth the fuss and effort. But, now, I look at the side yard (which is pretty wide open) and think about the number of trees we could plant. Pears and cherries. Apples and plums. Hmm.