Pear and Ricotta Torta

This cake was inspired by afternoons eating Torta di Mele ~ Apple Cake, with my nonna. (A recipe worth it’s own post) A simple apple cake she likes to bake for the family to be enjoyed for merenda (afternoon tea snack) or even breakfast. I’ve taken inspiration from the simplicity of an Italian apple cake and slightly elevated it using pears and ricotta; a combination that truly ‘pairs’ so beautifully together.

 

With a moist and delicate crumb, studded with sweet bursts of pear, this torta is perfect alongside your morning coffee or afternoon cup of tea.

 

Notes: 

Try to use Bosc pears if you can as they contain less moisture and are better for baking. They will ripen less than other pears so it’s ok if they still feel a little firm after a day or so in the fruit bowl.

 

The fresher and firmer your ricotta, the better. (Ricotta ‘spreads’ are no use here). Try and look for ricotta sold in little draining containers or buy fresh from your local deli. 

 

Take note on the size of the cake tin. This is the slightly smaller size. If you only have the larger 23cm cake tin, cooking time may need to be adjusted slightly. And if you have a spring-form tin, even better as you won’t have to turn the cake upside down and squash that delicate pear decoration!

 

And lastly, the best way to enjoy this cake is served warm! Of course it can be enjoyed cold too but there’s something about little pieces of hot pear in a cinnamon-scented cake that you can’t beat!

Ingredients

  • 2 small Bosc pears (plus an extra pear for decorating)

 

  • 80ml extra-virgin olive oil (1/3 cup)

  • 80ml honey (1/3 cup)

  • 2 eggs (at room temp)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 60ml milk (1/4 cup)

  • Zest of 1 lemon

  • 170g ricotta, firm and well-drained (1 cup)

 

Dry

  • 200g wholemeal flour (roughly 1 & 3/4 cups)

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

 

  • Icing sugar for dusting, optional

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (conventional).

  2. Grease sides and line the bottom of a 20cm round spring-form cake tin. 

  3. Peel, de-core and cut 2 pears into small (around 2cm) pieces, set aside. With the decorating pear, leave skin on, cut in half lengthways along the stem and thinly slice. Set aside.

  4. In a small bowl combine all the dry ingredients and set aside.

  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil and honey. Add the eggs and whisk well to combine. Then add the vanilla, milk and lemon zest, whisking to incorporate.

  6. Add the ricotta and gently whisk until it is well incorporated. It is ok to have tiny lumps of ricotta!

  7. Gradually fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture until combined and there are no lumps of flour left.  (The batter will be thick)

  8. Add the diced pears and gently fold through until well distributed. (Tip: Toss the pear pieces in a pinch of flour first to lightly coat them as this will help prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cake when they bake).

  9. Pour mixture into your prepared cake tin, gently smooth out the top with a spatula and decorate the top of the cake with the thinly sliced pear pieces, gently pressing them slightly into the batter.

  10. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 

  11. Remove from oven, let the cake rest in the tin for a few minutes before removing from tin.

  12. Dust with icing sugar (optional) and serve warm.

 

This cake will keep in an air-tight container for 4 days in a cool, dry place.