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Italian Pear Cake

Italian Pear Cake (also known as Torte di Pera) is perfectly tender and scented with lemon zest and vanilla. It’s wonderful served with mascarpone ice cream or a dollop of cream. 

So stop what you’re doing and add this classic Italian cake to your baking list!

Italian Pear Cake on a wooden cake stand.
So moist and tender!

Just like my Italian Carrot Cake, Italian Lemon Cake, and Italian Almond Cake, this Italian Pear Cake is simple but delicious. The flavors of lemon and vanilla work perfectly with the sweet pears and ensure every bite is sublime!

You can easily serve this cake on its own for an Italian-style breakfast or brunch with friends. But I love making it for dessert served with a spoonful of my Italian Pastry Cream or a dollop of Mascarpone Cream. Whichever way you decide, I can guarantee it will be a hit!

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Moist and tender – Using olive oil instead of butter in this cake makes the texture and crumb so delicate. It’s perfectly moist and soft.  
  • Flavor – Vanilla and lemon combine to add a light but delicious flavor to this cake. You will love how well it complements the pears!
  • Classic Italian – This pear cake is a classic Italian cake I know you’ll love. All you need now is an espresso or cappuccino, and you’ll feel like you’ve landed in Italy.
  • Versatile – whether served with ice cream for dessert, afternoon tea with friends, or even as an Italian-style breakfast, this Italian Pear Cake is always wonderful. 

Ingredients

Ingredients for this recipe as in the recipe card viewed from above.
  • Pears – for this recipe, choose your favorite pears. I often use pears that don’t ripen in the fruit bowl. 
  • Olive oil – light olive oil is best here, so the flavor doesn’t overpower the pears and lemon.
  • Sugar – white granulated sugar or castor sugar. 
  • Eggs – my preference is large, organic, free-range eggs. 
  • Vanilla extract – take care not to use vanilla essence as this is an artificial flavor. 
  • Lemon zest – be sure not to grate the bitter white pith.
  • Milk – I like to use whole milk in this recipe. 
  • Flour – all-purpose flour or plain flour. 
  • Baking powder – this is what makes my easy Pear Cake rise perfectly. 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease an 8-inch (20cm) round cake pan and sieve, or whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.

    Pears in various stages of peeling and dicing.

    Peel, halve, and core pears. Cut two pears into small dice. With the remaining pear halves cut side down, slice thinly (about ¼ inch).

    Yellow frothy batter in stainless steel bowl.

    Whisk olive oil, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla together in a stand mixer until thick and pale. 

    Adding milk to yellow frothy batter.

    Add the lemon zest and whole milk to the stand mixer and whisk slowly until combined.

    Adding flour to yellow frothy batter.

    Add the flour mixture and combine at a slow speed. 

    Adding diced pears to yellow batter.

    Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the two diced pears. Scrape the cake batter into the prepared pan.

    Pear slices in a concentric circle on top of cake batter.

    Top with the pear slices in a concentric circle. Press lightly into the batter, as it will rise around the slices. Bake for 60-70 minutes. 

    Substitutions

    • Lemon zest – substitute lemon oil or lemon extract.
    • Vanilla extract – you could use vanilla bean paste or the scrapped seeds from a whole vanilla bean instead.
    • Olive oil – mild flavored grapeseed oil or sunflower oil are good substitutes. 

    Variations

    • Spices – add cinnamon, cardamon, or allspice to this Italian Pear Cake if you love the flavors of warming spices.
    • Brown sugar – try making this cake with half brown sugar and half white sugar. It makes the cake more rich and caramelized.  
    • Fruit – don’t have pears? Try this recipe with green apples instead!

    Equipment

    I prefer making this cake recipe with an electric stand mixer. However, if you only have an electric hand mixer, that will work fine. You’ll need all the usual baking gadgets, like measuring cups and spatulas, plus an 8-inch or 20-cm round cake pan.

    Storage

    This Italian Pear Cake is best enjoyed fresh. However, it will keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 day – longer if your kitchen is cool and dry. If you plan on storing this cake for any longer, I would recommend storing it in the refrigerator instead. In the refrigerator, it will keep for 4-5 days. 

    Top tips

    Cake topped with pear slices with a large wedge cut out on a cake stand made of wood.
    • I recommend using ripe pears but not soft pears. Underripe or hard pears don’t work well in this recipe, as the baking times will vary. 
    • Baking is all about timing, so preheating your oven is the first step to success. Get to know your oven’s personality – how long it takes to reach temperature can vary with each oven.
    • Accuracy is key! When using cups to measure flour, fluff it with a whisk first. Then, gently spoon it into the measuring cup without packing it down. Use a knife’s flat edge to level it off for the perfect amount. Kitchen scales are even better for precise measurements if you have them.
    • For the smoothest results, gather your ingredients and let them come to room temperature. This helps the butter whip up light and fluffy, blending the eggs seamlessly.
    • When whisking together the oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla, it is important to ensure the consistency is very thick and pale. This can take 5 – 10 minutes to achieve. 
    • Like all baking recipes, it is important to note that ovens vary in temperature, and my oven may run warmer or cooler than your oven. So, although this recipe states that the cake will bake in 60 – 70 minutes, please check the cake towards the end of the baking time and adjust it as needed.

    FAQ

    Should pear cake be refrigerated?

    If you live in a hot and humid climate or your house is quite warm, it is important to refrigerate this Italian Pear Cake. The cake is so beautifully moist that it can be susceptible to mold if left at room temperature for too long. 

    What do Italians eat for breakfast?

    Italians generally eat a sweet breakfast consisting of a simple homemade cake, homemade cookies, and a milky coffee. This cake is a perfect example of a classic Italian breakfast cake. It’s simple, lightly sweetened, and, of course, delicious!

    Serving Suggestions

    Cake with pear slices on top on a wooden cake stand with several wedges cut and removed.

    I love serving this Italian Pear Cake as dessert after a delicious meal featuring my Italian Braciole and Semolina Bread

    The same as my yogurt cake recipe, which is one of those Italian breakfast favorites, this cake is also perfectly at home on the breakfast table.

    Stewed Pears
    Red Wine Poached Pears

    Italian Pear Cake on a wooden cake stand.

    Italian Pear Cake Recipe

    A lemon scented Italian Pear Cake Recipe is easy and delicious. Brimming with fresh pears, it's perfect for breakfast Italian-style or with a dollop of whipped cream or scoop of icecream it will make a popular dessert.
    5 from 30 votes
    Print Pin Review
    Prep Time: 30 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hour
    Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
    Servings:10 generous slices
    Author: Marcellina

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups (250g) all purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • pinch salt
    • ½ cup (125ml) light olive oil
    • ¾ cup (150g) white granulated sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 4 pears
    • cup (80mls) whole milk
    • finely grated zest of one lemon or 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil/extract

    Instructions

    • Preheat oven 350°F (180°C). Grease a 8inch (20cm) round cake pan.
    • Sieve or whisk together all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.
    • Peel pears, halve, and core. Cut two pears into small pieces. With remaining pear halves cut side down, slice thinly (about ¼ inch thickness).
    • In an electric stand mixer bowl place oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Using the whisk attachment whisk together at medium/high speed until thick and pale. Mixture will increase in volume.
    • Add the lemon zest or lemon extract and whole milk and whisk slowly until combined.
    • With the mixer on slow speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined. Scrape down the sides then beat at a higher speed for 30 seconds.
    • Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the 2 chopped pears.
    • Scrape the cake batter into the prepared pan.
    • Top with pear slice in a concentric circle. Press only lightly into the batter as the batter will rise.
    • Bake for 60-70 minutes. Test with a skewer under the pears. Please see my notes regarding cooking time.
    • Allow to stand for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool. Or eat it warm!

    Notes

    Tips for success
    • Some tips on baking times for cake –
      1. The cake starts to pull away from the sides slightly
      2. The batter is springy and there is no more jiggle
      3. A skewer insert into the middle of the cake comes out clean. I find if a cake has a crack, insert the skewer there, that’s where it will be the least cooked. In the case of this Pear Tea cake, push the skewer sideways under the pear, that’s where it will be the least cooked.
      4. Listen to the cake, it will have stopped sizzling.
      5. Let your nose be your guide. You will find the house will be filled with a glorious smell just before the cake is done.
    Tried this recipe? Give it a star rating and leave a comment below!

    Nutritional Estimate Per Serving

    Calories: 323kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 18mg | Potassium: 233mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 71IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 1mg

    Nutritional Disclaimer

    Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.

    This updated and improved recipe was first published here on December 8, 2017.

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    5 from 30 votes (26 ratings without comment)

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    15 Comments

    1. My boyfriend adores this cake. It was easy to follow and I was able to give him a taste of his home (Italy) while he was in America. Thank you for sharing.

    2. 5 stars
      The new version of this recipe is great! I did make the old one but this is easier and more delicious. Thank you, Marcellina!

    3. 5 stars
      Thanks for this delicious recipe! The instructions were easy to follow and the cake is an absolute delight. We had it with your mascarpone cream. So good!

    4. 5 stars
      Thank you so much for writing a recipe with all units converted!! I am French but live in Australia so really appreciate not having to overthink the conversions. I love the presentation of this cake. Mine baked for 45 min. But I made some changes:
      – added poppy seeds
      – didn’t use zest as I didn’t have organic lemons
      – 250 g Flour replaced by 75 g almond meal/ 75 g oat flour/ 50g corn flour/ 50g fine semolina
      Yumm! Thank you

    5. The cake was good and I’ll make it again. Not so sweet! I notice that neither of the commenters above had made the cake.
      A couple of comments from me: You don’t say how many pears… I used two very large ones and chopped the pointy ends into the small pieces, then cut the cored pears into three pieces each.

      The cake took about 45 mins, but I left it in for another 15 mins because your recipe said 1hr 15. Mine was slightly over-cooked at an hour. My oven doesn’t cook very hot, so I wasn’t cooking the cake too quickly. I think a thin cake like this shouldn’t take more than an hour, especially in quite a big tin!

      1. Hi Jenny ! Thank you so much for your very detailed reply! I’m glad you enjoyed the cake. Thank you for bringing to my attention the omission of the quantity of pears. There are five pears needed. I will correct this. In my oven it did take 1 hour 15 minutes but I’m glad you used your cooking knowledge to remove your cake earlier. I will retest the cake just in case. I really appreciate you taking the time to write an honest and detailed review. Marcellina xx

    6. This is such a gentle cake and I so look forward to baking it, and eating it! I can already smell the warm pear and olive oil.

    7. Thank you for such a lovely comment, Lorraine! It’s all true and more…you deserve ever success in life xx