We grew up eating fruit – fresh apples, oranges and pears were always in the fruit bowl. After every meal at home, mamma or papà would peel fruit and hand it out to us, making sure we had at least one serve per day. Now that mamma is alone, she still manages to eat at least two pieces of fruit each day – no wonder she is still going strong at 86. Fruit often made its way into a cake – apple strudel being a favourite. Every now and then she would made a simple vanilla-scented cake and bury pieces of fruit in the batter.
I loved it when she made a cake with ripe pears. Pears are in season in Australia now and I have been buying a large bag full of Beurre Bosc each week. They are so sweet and delicious, I make sure I have one for breakfast, often with some creamy yoghurt on the side. When they are almost overripe, they are perfect to use for baking. This recipe for torta di pere is based on one from this website and it takes just over an hour to make, including baking. It is almost identical to the one mamma used to make. It is super simple and moist, with buried segments of pear. You can be indulgent and have it with some whipped cream on the side but I love it as it is, for breakfast, with a coffee. This way I am still eating fruit each day, even if it is in a cake.
Torta di pere (pear cake)
150 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
150 g self raising flour
30 g cornflour
90 g butter, melted
2 large or 3 small ripe pears, peeled and cut into 1/8 (or quarters) segments
icing sugar for dusting
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Line a 24cm cake tin with a removable base with baking paper. Beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift the flour and corn flour and add to the egg/sugar mixture, stirring gently. Pour in the melted butter and the vanilla and stir until smooth. Place the batter in the prepared tin and arrange the pear segments in a circle, so the tip of the segment is pointing towards the centre of the cake. Push the slices slightly so that they are at least partially covered by batter.
Bake for 40 minutes – the top should be golden and a skewer should come out clean when inserted. Leave to cool then dust on some icing sugar before serving.