Walnut Spice Cake with Butterscotch Pears

Mimi Williams, a Los Angeles-based vegan chef, grew up baking with her mom and came to appreciate the nurturing aspect of it. This comforting cake—fragrant with warm spices and topped with caramelized pears and coconut cream—is lick-your-plate good.

Walnut Spice Cake with Butterscotch Pears
Photo: Brittany Conerly
Active Time:
50 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 30 mins



  • ¼ cup mashed cooked yam or sweet potato

  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened plain oat milk

  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce

  • 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

  • 1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • teaspoon ground pepper

  • 1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons spelt flour

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) vegan butter, at room temperature

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 ½ tablespoons vanilla extract

  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Butterscotch Pears

  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter

  • 4 firm ripe pears, quartered and cored

  • ¾ cup pear or apple cider

  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar

  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice

  • teaspoon salt

  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut cream

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Coconut Cream

  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut cream

  • 2 tablespoons sifted confectioners’ sugar


  1. To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and coat the paper with cooking spray.

  2. Whisk yam (or sweet potato) in a medium bowl until completely smooth. Whisk in oat milk, applesauce and vinegar. Sift all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon salt, nutmeg and pepper into another medium bowl. Whisk in spelt flour.

  3. Beat 12 tablespoons butter, granulated sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until creamy, scraping down the sides as needed, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients, one-third at a time, and mix until well incorporated, scraping down the sides as needed. Stir in walnuts and orange zest. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top.

  4. Bake the cake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Loosen the edges and turn the cake out onto the rack to cool completely, about 20 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, prepare pears: Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pears and cook, flipping once halfway, until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add cider, brown sugar, lemon juice and salt to the pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup coconut cream and cook for 3 minutes. Return the pears to the pan and turn to coat. Remove from heat and add vanilla; mix gently with a flexible spatula. Let cool for 10 minutes.

  6. To prepare cream: Whisk coconut cream and confectioners' sugar in a small bowl.

  7. Slice the cake; serve with the pears and cream.


Parchment paper

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

362 Calories
16g Fat
51g Carbs
5g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 16
Serving Size 1 slice cake, 1/4 pear & 1 1/2 tsp. cream
Calories 362
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 51g 19%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 24g
Protein 5g 10%
Total Fat 16g 21%
Saturated Fat 11g 55%
Vitamin A 38IU 1%
Sodium 328mg 14%
Potassium 148mg 3%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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