I love Fall! Cooler weather is more conducive to baking and cooking. And I am always eager to say goodbye to summer fruits and welcome pears, apples, plums, etc. This Italian Pear Cake, made with sweet, juicy pears, layered inside a soft and tender sour cream cake, says Fall is here! In true Italian style, the cake is not overly sweet. I prefer hazelnuts to almonds because, of course, that is how it is made in Italy. A dash of pear grappa (brandy) is nice, but not necessary. Warm spices and lemon zest complement the pears perfectly. This is the perfect “go to” cake recipe – simple (no mixer needed), and irresistibly delicious!
Italian Pear Cake (Torta di Pere)
- 1 pound fresh pears, peeled, cored, and cut into small chunks (about 3 cups)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or pear brandy
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cardamom (cinnamon or nutmeg can be used instead)
- ½ cup vegetable or light olive oil
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ¾ cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (2% or full fat)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or Pear Brandy
- Zest of one lemon
- Sanding sugar
- Chopped hazelnuts or sliced almonds
- Whipped cream for serving
- Preheat oven to 325° convection and grease a 9” springform or cake pan that is at least 2” deep. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Peel and cut the pears and toss with sugar and lemon juice or pear brandy. Set aside.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk the oil, sugar, eggs, sour cream or yogurt, vanilla and almond extracts, lemon juice or pear brandy, and zest together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Batter will be creamy and slightly thick.
- Pour/spoon half of the batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Arrange half the pears over the batter, covering evenly. Add the remaining batter and spread evenly over the pears. Arrange the remaining pears over the top, leaving any juice in the bowl. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts or sliced almonds and sanding sugar.
- Bake for about 45-50 minutes. Cake should be nicely browned and feel firm.
- Let cool for 30 minutes before removing outer ring of springform pan.
- The cake is delicious as is, but a dollop of whipped cream is your choice.