Pear Bread

This pear bread is a moist, spice-infused tea bread that filled with bites of tender pear and studded with crunchy walnuts. Perfect for a tea party or dessert. We may have even indulged in it at breakfast.

A glass cake stand topped with several slices of Cornelia Walker Bailey's pear bread.

This spice-infused tea bread comes from the kitchen of Mrs. Cornelia Walker Bailey, historian, muse, and guardian angel of Sapelo Island, off the Georgia coast. Mrs. Bailey’s family has lived on Sapelo Island since the year 1806, and her life’s work is keeping their stories and wisdom alive and well. She works through words, telling stories, writing books, and sharing recipes for the food that has fed her ancestors for more than 200 years. This bread comes from The Foods of Georgia’s Barrier Islands: A Gourmet Food Guide to Native American, Geechee and European Influences on the Golden Isles, a book she wrote with Yvonne J. Grovner and William “Doc Bill” Thomas.–Nancie McDermott

LC A Quick Bread with Pedigree Note

Though this quick bread is far from pretentious, it certainly has pedigree–and you don’t need to know its geneology to know this. One taste tells all.

Pear Bread

  • Quick Glance
  • (4)
  • 15 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Makes 2 9-by-5-inch loaf pans or one 10-inch tube pan
4.8/5 - 4 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Southern Cakes cookbook

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  • For the pear bread
  • For the buttermilk glaze


Make the pear bread
Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Lightly butter and flour a 10-inch tube pan or two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the flour mixture, dump it in a small bowl, and toss in the chopped walnuts.
In a medium bowl, combine the butter or oil, eggs, granulated sugar, grated pear, nuts, and vanilla, and stir to mix everything well. Scrape the pear mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until the flour disappears and the batter is evenly moistened.
Quickly and gently scrape the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake at 350°F (175°C) for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the bread is handsomely browned and firm on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool the pear bread in the pan(s) on a wire rack or on a folded kitchen towel for about 10 minutes. Then turn it out onto a plate or the wire rack to cool completely, top side up.
Serve as is, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, or ice with the Buttermilk Glaze.
Make the buttermilk glaze (optional)
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the buttermilk, confectioners’ sugar, butter, cornstarch, and baking soda. Bring to a gentle boil.
Immediately remove the pan from the heat, stir well, and cool to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla and then set the glaze aside to cool slightly.
Glaze the pear bread (optional)
Spoon the Buttermilk Glaze over the warm cake and let it cool completely prior to slicing. Originally published June 10, 2007.
Print RecipeBuy the Southern Cakes cookbook

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Recipe Testers Reviews

This pear bread recipe is already a favorite in my household. I’ve had three requests for it already. It has great texture, a fine crumb, is nice and moist, and not overly sweet. Some errors are worth making and I’m sticking with mine.

Adding both the butter and the oil may seem like too much—I thought the bread would turn out oily—but it was perfect. Using pears is also a pleasant change from banana or apple and the buttermilk glaze was a nice finish.

This recipe is worth keeping and passing on to the children and grandchildren.

This pear bread or tea cake is so good and even better the day after it’s baked. If you can wait that long!

The pear bread works with both pan suggestions (with some tweaking in baking time) and with both fat suggestions. The textures and flavors change a bit, though.

I prefer the glaze when it’s allowed to boil for a minute or two. The sugar starts to caramelize and it’s so good.

I wasn’t going to make this pear bread, thinking pear season was pretty much over. While shopping, however, I came across some perfectly ripe yet firm Bartletts. I was glad I did. This cake smelled wonderful while baking, sweet and warmly spicy, and tasted just as delicious. It was moist and dense with nuts, buttery, and nicely pear flavored.

The glaze, while probably not really necessary, was a tangy addition. A terrific breakfast with a cup of steaming coffee. Also delicate enough for a light snack with tea. It kept well, both at room temperature for several days and frozen.

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