Cooking Italy: Pear Torta

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It’s my favorite time of year. Autumn. Fall. Not Summer anymore. Holiday Season. Whatever you wish to call it, it’s time for comfort, and my most favorite fruits, apples and pears. This recipe will work well with either and will turn into a “go to” all the way to Spring.

I first learned to make this torta at a cooking class in Tuscany, and at that time was surprised to find it to be considered an Italian recipe. The things that do seem to be Italian about it is its rustic nature, ease in baking, and not very sweet, a cake that would be perfect for breakfast.

Our cooking class was in a Tuscan farmhouse (circa 1300) and it was quite fitting. Rustic. Easy. Delicious and yet not too sweet and a perfect match for a bit of homemade vanilla gelato. But, I like this best for breakfast, and I suggest you bookmark this for your next holiday brunch.

This week, this recipe was supposed to be the one in Marcella Hazan’s cookbook. After comparing recipes with the one I had learned, I tweaked both and came up with my own original. The recipe that I learned in Italy had lemon, butter and baking powder, whereas Marcella’s had none, but she did suggest cloves and I thought that was a superb idea as this tart was headed for a neighbor who was born in India.

I thought she might enjoy the extra dimension of flavor, and this inspired me to add in a pinch of cardamom. (I seem to add cardamom to a lot of baked goods).

Ingredients for Pear Torta

  • 4 pears (or apples) peeled, sliced thinly
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon butter, melted
  • Juice of one small lemon, divided
  • 12 cloves (optional)
  • Raw sugar (or regular granulated sugar) for dusting
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Pear Torta

Italian Pear Cake
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Course: Cake
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: pear cake, pear torta


  • 4 pears peeled, sliced thinly
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 12 cloves optional
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar for dusting


  • Butter baking pan.
  • Preheat oven at 350 Degrees F. (180 C.)
  • Prepare sliced pears. Squeeze half lemon juice over pears. Set Aside.
  • Beat together eggs and milk.
  • Add flour, baking powder, cardamom, salt.
  • Add in melted butter. Mix thoroughly.
  • Pour batter in pan. Add pears. Arrange cloves. Dust with sugar.
  • Bake for 50 minutes. Remove cloves. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over tart.

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