This is one of those Italian culinary delights which is extremely easy to make and oh so delicious. For some, they might say it is more pear than cake but I disagree, the fruit is an integral part forming structure, moisture and natural sweetness. Best of all it comes in two versions vanilla or chocolate, the choice is yours.
Makes 12 Serves
250 grams butter (room temperature)
250 grams white sugar
200 grams almond meal
100 grams plain flour (sifted)
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 semi-ripe pears
handful of flaked almonds
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark chocolate powder (sifted)
zest of 1 orange
icing sugar and cream/ice-cream for serving
1. Butter and dust with flour a 10-inch spring-form cake tin and pre-heat oven to 190° C.
2. Prepare pears by peeling, cutting into quarters and removing the core and seeds. 3 of the pears should be diced into small cubes to go into the cake mix and the other three pears should be sliced into thin strips length ways for the top of the cake.
Tip – Do not use fully ripe pears as they will create a lot of liquid as they cook. If ripe pears are your only fruit option, then increase the almond meal and flour by 50 grams each.
3. Place butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat together until pale and white.
4. Add eggs, one at a time into the butter sugar mix and beat until combined, then add the next egg and repeat, until all 4 eggs are fully combined.
5. Add the vanilla extract or orange zest, depending on which version you are making and briefly whisk into the batter mixture.
6. Add the almond meal, plain flour and baking powder (if making the chocolate version – also add the chocolate powder) and fold into the batter gently until all ingredients are well combined.
7. Fold in the diced pears and fold through the mixture so dispersed evenly and then pour into the cake tin.
8. Smooth the upper surface of the batter and commence to arrange the pear strips on the upper surface so they create a ring of pear segments.
9. Place into the oven and cook for 45 minutes. Then remove and scatter the flaked almonds onto the top and cook for a further 15 minutes.
10. Test the cake after an hour of cooking with a skewer to see if cooked and if so, remove from oven and allow to cool. If further cooking is needed place some baking paper over the top of the cake and continue cooking until cake is done.
Tip – The riper the pears, the longer it will take to cook. The baking paper helps to prevent the cake getting too dark.
11. Once fully cooled, dust with icing sugar and slice. Serve with cream or ice-cream.
12. Any left-over cake should be stored in the fridge but it is always best served at room temperature.
Note – This cake can also be made with apples or as a near neighbour asked with quinces. If you are intending on using quinces, they need to be par cooked for 30 – 45 minutes in a hot oven prior to use in the cake.