Pear and Almond Cake

September 19, 2014

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This cake is a European love child, inspired both by David Lebovitz's Almond Cake (in turn adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Remolif Shere) and Mimi Thorisson's Italian Pear Cake. Sarah Jampel

Makes: one 9-inch cake
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 1 hrs 10 min

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 very ripe pears (I used D'Anjou)
  • 1 cup cake flour, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups caster or superfine sugar
  • 7 ounces almond paste
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature and cut into 1-tablespoon cubes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 dash confectioners' sugar, for dusting
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Butter a 9-inch cake pan or springform pan, line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper and butter that, too. Dust the pan with flour and shake off any excess.
  2. Peel the pears and cut them into very thin slices from stem to bottom. Starting at the outside perimeter of the pan, place the pear slices in tight concentric circles until you've covered the pan's bottom.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup of cake flour, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.
  4. In a food processor, grind the sugar, almond paste, and 1/4 cup of the cake flour until the almond paste has mixed with the sugar to form a sand-like substance.
  5. With the food processor running, add the cubes of butter one at a time. When the butter has been incorporated, add the vanilla and almond extracts. Process until the batter is smooth and light.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, processing after each addition.
  7. Add half of the dry ingredients and pulse a few times. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and pulse the machine until the dry mixture is just incorporated. The batter will be light, fluffy, and thin.
  8. Pour the batter over the pears, then bake the cake in the center of the oven. Check it after 50 minutes, at which point in may look like an ominous white blob. Cook it until the top is nicely browned and the center is not too jiggly (mine took 60 minutes in one oven, 70 minutes in another; it has also been known to take 55 minutes. Moral of the story: Watch closely).
  9. Remove the cake from the oven and run a sharp knife around the perimeter of the pan to loosen it from the sides. Let the cake cool completely, then invert it onto a cake rack. Invert it once more if you want the pears at the bottom and the crackly, golden-brown side facing up. Dust it with confectioners sugar, then slice a piece for yourself.

More Great Recipes:
Cake|Pear|Almond|Bake|Winter|Sunday Dinner|Christmas|Fall|Thanksgiving|Dessert

Reviews (91) Questions (5)

91 Reviews

Mandy September 15, 2018
This is one of our go to desserts. My Italian husband LOVES it because it isn't overly sweet like many desserts.
 
zoomorphic December 16, 2017
I have made this cake every year since it came up on this site, and each time it's a hit! Except this time the cake deflated in the middle :( the ingredients were at room temp and I don't think I overmixed the batter. Any thoughts? I'm not terribly worried, mainly curious. It'll still taste great!
 
Jenna G. November 6, 2017
Will this tolerate freezing?
 
creamtea October 11, 2017
Can I use (blanched) almond flour in place of almond paste? I don't usually have the latter.
 
Jennifer October 11, 2017
Unfortunately, almond flour is not a substitute for almond paste. I usually purchase several cans at various on-line retailers so that I always have it on hand during the fall/winter baking season. I did find this recipe on-line for almond paste: https://www.thespruce.com/easy-almond-paste-521145?utm_term=almond+paste+substitute&utm_content=p1-main-3-title&utm_medium=sem&utm_source=gemini_s&utm_campaign=adid-19263efb-7f78-4df6-8266-5a1753e83e44-0-ab_tse_ocode-603498&ad=semD&an=gemini_s&am=exact&q=almond+paste+substitute&o=603498&qsrc=999&l=sem&askid=19263efb-7f78-4df6-8266-5a1753e83e44-0-ab_tse. Happy baking!
 
Jeannine D. October 11, 2017
I wouldn’t, the intense wonderful almond flavor would be diminished!
 
Theresa L. August 20, 2016
So could you freeze it without the pears?
 
I've made this a few times now and we all just stand silently around the plate and eat furtively while glancing furtively at each other. It is so good! Four of us polish off this puppy in no time at all. Marzipan is not always easy to find in this backwater town and I have used almond pie filling once (quite runny) and even that could not destroy this paean to deliciousness.
 
Juliane January 11, 2016
I made this cake last year and it was light and airy, and so fabulous! This year, it was much eggier and less airy. Any thoughts on what I might have done incorrectly?
 
Jeff P. August 28, 2016
Is it possible that you made the cake the second time with colder ingredients?
 
Juliane August 31, 2016
It's possible... I'll try it again with room temp this time :) Thanks!
 
leigh F. November 25, 2015
thanks<br />
 
Jeannine D. November 21, 2015
I would bake it the day before and serve on the next day. Holding it will lose the lift of the eggs
 
leigh F. November 21, 2015
I'm wondering if you could put this together the day before and bake it on Thanksgiving?
 
Dawna November 21, 2015
I would bake it the day before since I think it's better the next day!
 
Allison November 21, 2015
Can you freeze this cake? I need to start Thanksgiving baking.
 
Anyoota November 20, 2015
Thank you for the answers everyone!<br />I made the cake today, and it tastes good, my only problem is that the almond taste seems to overpower everything (I didn't even use the almond extract) and I can't feel the pear taste. I used two medium pears and the bottom of the pan was covered with them. I read the recipe 10 times and made sure to do everything (except I skipped the almond extract). Maybe my pears weren't ripe enough?<br />
 
Jennifer November 19, 2015
I couldn't find any paste myself. I used more almonds and also put in some almond extract. It was great - I have made this cake several times and it always comes through.
 
Jeannine D. November 19, 2015
Almond Paste is totally different from Almond butter. It is available at most supermarkets.
 
Anyoota November 19, 2015
Oh, I am glad I asked - Thank you!!
 
Anyoota November 19, 2015
Hello,<br />can someone please tell me what is almond paste? Is it the same as almond butter? can I use almond butter? or do I take blanched almonds and just grind them in a food processor with some water? if yes, then how much water exactly?<br />Sorry, I am just starting to experiment with baking, so this might be a stupid question.
 
Windischgirl November 19, 2015
Almond paste is similar to marzipan (marzipan is sweeter). Almond paste is a blend of peeled almonds, egg white, and sugar syrup. In can be found at the supermarket in the baking section, either in a can or in a plastic tube.<br />No silly questions! We are all here learning from each other.
 
Laura415 November 19, 2015
I used this food52 recipe for the almond paste. https://food52.com/recipes/28464-almond-paste I used already ground almonds from Trader Joe's. <br />I only used 1 cup of powdered sugar and it was more than sweet enough. I froze half of the almond paste to make the cake again sometime. If you make this recipe for almond paste and do the cake you can use one egg white for the almonds and then for the cake 5 whole eggs and the one egg yolk left over from the almond paste recipe. Cake comes out fine with 5 1/2 eggs instead of 6:)
 
Julie P. November 16, 2015
I made this last night and thought it was very good. The cake itself was moist and delicious with a nice almond flavor. I used 1 cup of sugar and could have cut it down even more. <br />The only thought is that I really did not taste the pear at all (not a bit) and wonder if a stronger flavored fruit might suit this cake better? Like plum or apple or even peach? The only other issue I had is that my food processor was too small and I had to blend it in batches and then by hand. Overall, a great flavor and texture to this cake. I'd make it again using a different fruit.
 
alison November 8, 2015
I would love to know specifically what GF flours people used or what brand of GF flour mix - thanks so much!!!!!!!!!
 
Laura415 November 9, 2015
I use Cup4Cup. It has no bean flours in it and is mostly starches. It's expensive per cup but it has few ingredients so I looked at the amounts of different flours from another recipe so I could closely duplicate C4C with bulk GF flours I buy at the coop. <br />Hope you can use this recipe. It's in grams so you'll need a scale. <br />Cornstarch 275 grams<br />White rice flour 250 grams<br />Brown rice flour 200 grams<br />Milk Powder 175 grams<br />Oat flour or other GF flour of your choice 125 grams<br />Potato starch 125 grams<br />Xantan gum 69 grams or about 1/8th cup<br />Makes 9 2/3 cups (C4C comes in a 10 cup bag)<br />If you have other allergies you will have to experiment. C4C is mostly starch so pick starches over GF grains for most of it. No known substitute for milk powder or xanthan gum although you can leave out he xanthan gum and use other thickeners in your actual recipe. Xanthan gum is convenient because it is a dry ingredient so goes into the mix easily. Good luck.
 
alison November 7, 2015
Has anyone successfully made this recipe gluten free? Thanks!
 
Dawna November 8, 2015
Yes! I used gluten free flours! I've used all different kinds! It's wonderful!
 
Laura415 November 8, 2015
Absolutely! Use a basic GF flour mix or make your own and use it. Watch out for a lot of bean flours though. In my opinion they do flavor the cake with a slight bean flavor. Cakes in general can be easily made GF. Cake does not require the gluten that something like bread or pizza dough does. Cake is supposed to be tender.
 
hchambers86 October 27, 2015
Just have to say - this is so, so good, even without proper equipment/being too lazy to peel my pears. Made it for colleagues and they could not believe I didn't source it directly from the french bakery around the corner.
 
Jeannine D. October 18, 2015
I peel mine as well
 
Beth T. October 18, 2015
Recipe tells you to peel them.