I bake cakes in winter. Pies in summer. Every fruit has its season and Chiara’s Torta di Pere is this winter’s best-loved. It reminds me of skipping into Chiara’s lively Trattoria Camillo for a hearty Florentine meal and having this dolce to look forward to for dessert.
I have admired, acquired, and stolen this recipe from my friend Rolando Beremendi’s new cookbook: “Autentico”, in which he pays homage to his dear friend Chiara. I love catching Rolando there on a random evening sitting in his ‘mayor’s seat’, happy as Harry with rosy cheeks near the kitchen. This cake inspires me as it has very little flour and bakes for two hours, allowing the pears to mostly mingle and melt with cream, vanilla and rum. (Sorry gluten-free friends, I have not found flour substitutes to work as well.)
Pears are a fruit I rarely eat raw, although I love them sliced, eaten with a goat blue and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. When you get a juicy ripe one, it’s delightful. Baked into this slow-cooked torta ~ it’s the piece de resistance. Here is Rolando (and Chiara’s) recipe almost verbatim.
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 T Demerara sugar
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp aluminum free baking powder
1/4 t fine sea salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp dark rum
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 medium pears ~ I like comice pears, but you can use any other firm pear, peeled, cored and thinly sliced.
Preheat oven to 350F. Thoroughly butter a 10-inch springform pan. Sprinkle 1Tbsp of the sugar to evenly coat the bottom and sides of the pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, 1 cup of sugar, cream, rum and vanilla to combine. Add the sliced pears. Use your hands to gently fold the pears into the batter. Pour into the pan, arranging the pears to give a nice presentation later. Sprinkle the last remaining Tbsp of sugar on top.
Bake slowly for two hours. Let rest for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pan before separating. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe credit: Rolando Beremendi