The Pear and Almond Cake I'd Rather Be Eating

October 13, 2014

Would you like a piece of cake right now? For Goodness Cake is here for you. Every week, we'll be sharing recipes that prove why cake should be its own food group.

Today: Are you doing something that's making you unhappy? Stop it right now and make this cake instead.

Shop the Story

More so now than at any other point in my life, I find myself thinking, "I'd rather be eating cake right now" multiple times a day.

Compare: Riding the subway at 7 AM (if it's a good day, the train might be in motion), elevated off the ground by a sea of bodies, my armpit smushed into my face, other peoples' armpits smushed into my eating cake.

Compare: Trying to get "exercise" by making grotesque postures in a 105° F room, suffocated by 50 other people all dressed in spandex (this is called "hot yoga" in New York) eating cake.

Compare: Paying $4.50 for a not-so-good tomato and a microscopic sweet potato from the farmers eating cake. 

In no universe are any of these true hardships. Nonetheless, cake would make my day better. At these moments, I wouldn't rather be running or knitting or with Fred (don't you just love those bumper stickers?). No, I'd rather be eating cake. These are not hard choices. These are not hotly debated philosophical questions. Cake. Cake is the answer.

And this is the cake I'd choose. First, you make it in a food processor. You make it really easily in a food processor. Second, it's got two of the best cake ingredients: almond paste to make it incredibly rich, and cake flour to make it airy despite that. Third, it's transportable: My friend ate a slice, packed it in foil, shoved it in his backpack, biked across Central Park, and polished off the rest. You can keep it in your bag and shave off slivers when you're feeling sad (or maybe that's just me).

Importantly, it's easy to eat (use a spoon or a fork -- it's like scooping soft butter); nothing is going to fall from your utensil or drip embarrassingly down your face. The pear slices relax into the cake, offering pockets of mellower, stickier sweetness.

More: If you transport your cake in a cute little package, it's less weird to eat it on the subway.

On top of all that, this cake has a strong connection to Europe -- it was adapted from David Lebovitz's Almond Cake (in turn inspired by a recipe in Lindsey R. Share's Chez Panisse Desserts) and Mimi Thorisson's Italian Pear Cake -- with the height and the confidence to prove it. Close your eyes while you take a bite and you might conjure up an image of a Parisian café or an Italian trattoria. Just don't break the spell by inhaling New York City air.

So cut a big wedge and start eating -- it will be the easiest, least stressful thing you do all day.

Pear and Almond Cake

Makes one 9-inch cake

2 to 3
 very ripe pears (like D'Anjou)
cup cake flour, divided
1 1/2 
teaspoons baking powder
teaspoon salt
1 1/3
 cups caster or superfine sugar
ounces almond paste
cup butter, at room temperature and cut into 1-tablespoon cubes
teaspoon vanilla extract
teaspoon almond extract
large eggs, at room temperature
Confectioners sugar, for dusting

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

The Magical Mini Guide to Cozy Weekends
View Guide
The Magical Mini Guide to Cozy Weekends

Whether you're in the mood for some soup-simmering, leaf-peeping, or nothing at all, your dream weekend awaits...

View Guide

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Uriah
  • Jane Beck
    Jane Beck
  • Anietie
  • ana
  • Cherjh7
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Uriah February 25, 2018
How is it without the pear? Does the moisture still check out?

I'm wanting to make an almond cake topped with a rose water glaze and wondering if modifying this to exclude the pears will work out OK. I imagine it will, just wanting to check if anyone has excluded the pear, as I don't think it'll go as well with the rose water.
Uriah February 25, 2018
Also, any insight as to how substituting cake flour with very fine corn meal would be? Thinking the corn might be a nice addition and giving it the added benefit of being gluten free.
Jane B. November 2, 2015
One of the best cakes I have made. Love the flavor and texture. Best part of making it is the food processor.
Anietie January 3, 2015
My cake is always too strong pls what shld I do to get a very fluffy cake
ana November 17, 2014
J’adore le tarte au poire amande! Super!
Cherjh7 November 16, 2014
This cake is absolutely divine! It is better day two and three but very hard to keep around that long. It is not too sweet. The texture is lovely. One of my very favorite recipes. It is great for 'foodies' and picky eaters alike. Thanks! I wod rather be eating this cake than doing almost anything. Ha ha
Angelina October 29, 2014
Made this yesterday and may I say ... AMAZING! Comedy of errors with the food processor but used the Ninja and it came out wonderful! This morning served cold with a cup of coffee! Shut the front door! Thanks!
ThaliaCurly October 26, 2014
Great recipe! But as in my country there is no cake flour, I was wondering if I can substitute it with all purpose flour. Would it be the same?
Sarah J. October 26, 2014
I don't think the cake would have the same light texture. BUT you can actually make cake flour at home: For every cup of cake flour you want, just take one cup of AP flour and replace 2 of the tablespoons with corn starch. Sift or whisk that mixture together. For more detailed information, see this post:
Cindy October 15, 2014
OMG, cannot get enuf of this site. I can't even count the amount of times I've been here to look for an exotic recipe. I'm an old timer cook, have been making Tuscan Almond cakes for decades, but this one with the pears, my favorite fruit, is the best marriage of both worlds. I have a canasta card party day every Saturday and I cook. I've delivered award winning oohs & ahhs for the meals and desserts I have served for the last 6 months from this site and I still haven't scratched the surface. I've been everywhere on the www looking for the best recipes and now my search is over. Food52, is hands down, the best.
Sarah J. October 15, 2014
Thank you so much!! We are all so glad that Food52 is serving you well, and we love having you as a member of our community.
MPC October 15, 2014
Can it be frozen?
Sarah J. October 15, 2014
I haven't tried freezing it, but I think it would work as long as you wrap it tightly and let it come to room temperature slowly (in the fridge or on the counter). I imagine that it might be a bit denser than when it's freshly made, but I don't think that would be a problem!
Monkey October 14, 2014
Made this cake last night and it is delicious! Brought in a slice at work and my colleague said it gave her goosebumps. Thank you again for an amazing recipe!
Sarah J. October 14, 2014
Thank YOU for making it! Glad you enjoyed -- that makes my day!
Emi B. October 14, 2014
I ate the very cake that is photographed here, and I am pleased to say it tastes as good -- if not better -- than it looks.
Baker A. October 14, 2014
Making this right now! I hope it will turn out as pretty as yours. Thank you for a gorgeous cake on a Monday!
witloof October 14, 2014
I live in NYC and your descriptions of daily life here made me laugh. Yes, give me cake over the MTA or Bikram yoga any day!
kate H. October 13, 2014
I had pears in my fridge that were ripe and ready to go so I made this for dessert. Delicious, sophisticated and yet so easy to make. I love almond cake and this just takes it to a new level. I can't wait for breakfast to have a slice with my espresso!
Sarah J. October 14, 2014
Hooray!! So happy to hear it!
Alexandra S. October 13, 2014
Lindsey R. Share's almond torte has been a staple in my house for as long as I can remember — my sister, mother, aunt, grandmother, etc. all make it at every holiday or whenever we are expecting company. I am SO excited to try this variation. This is my favorite kind of cake.
Sarah J. October 14, 2014
The fact that I love this kind of cake now, whereas I might have turned up my nose at it 5 years ago, makes me feel like an adult.
Alexandra S. October 14, 2014
Haha, yes, absolutely. Also, frosting is so overrated. I am making this tomorrow for my in-laws. I cannot wait!
Cynthia C. October 13, 2014
I need this cake in my life! Especially since it's Monday unfun-day.
Sarah J. October 16, 2014
Amen!! Also good on other days, too! I'm still dying to make your milk bread!!
Linda J. October 13, 2014
I agree Haley!! I love Almond Paste too. I'm thinking about using it as a hair product:)
Sarah J. October 13, 2014
It has to be better for your hair than the "Moroccan Argan Oil" (or whatever it's called) that I'm using. Plus, you can bake with it!
Linda J. October 13, 2014
I love Morroccan Oil. You might be using too much and YES you cannot cook with it:)
mikeylikesit October 13, 2014
It's called "hot yoga" everywhere.
Sarah M. October 13, 2014
This cake was so delicious and I don't even usually like almond paste.
Tracie October 13, 2014
amen to cake.