I am a huge fan of the pear cake in Amarone by Osvaldo. Crispy and with a great crumb on the outside, the cake contains smooth layers of cooked pear, bits of caramel and soft custard (I later realized that this soft custard was probably slightly moist batter) on the inside. It was easy to eat and totally delicious. I had been on a kick for awhile to 'discover' this pear recipe and I tried several online versions until I felt I'd cracked it.
The management at Amarone said that they only make this cake when a certain kind of pear is in season. I'm not too sure about that, since the cake is more in season than European pears and also, there aren't any Italian pears to be had in Singapore, but just to be on the safe side, I have generally made this cake with Rochas pears, which are from Portugal. I have only found these pears in Singapore of late, as one of the newer food products to come out of Portugal. I have never tried them with Packham pears, but those would be my next choice. The cake itself is super easy to make (essentially a butter cake with half almonds added in) and the only additional step is that you have to flambé the pears first.
300 grams butter
250 grams white sugar
150 grams self-raising flour
150 grams ground almonds
3 or 4 pears
An additional 15 grams butter, 1 tbsp white sugar and 100 ml brandy for cooking pears
1. You can bake a tall 9 inch round cake with this recipe or 2 regular (2.5 inch height) 6 inch round cakes. Butter and line the tins.
2. Pear, core and quarter the pears and gently sauté them in a frying pan with 15 grams butter, a tablespoon of white sugar and 100ml brandy till tender. You can slice each quarter in half length-wise if you prefer. I like to use a non-stick frying pan to make for ease of clean-up.
3. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, this will take at least 15 minutes. The aeration of the creaming process make a big difference to this cake, given the higher proportion of butter, so do not stop beating till it is light in colour and texture.
4. Gradually add the eggs, one at a time, then the flour and almonds.
5. Scrape your cake batter into the lined tin and place the pears on top in a circular pattern. These pears will sink down through the cake, ending up (hopefully) midway between the top and bottom surface of the cake. Pour the syrup from the pan on to the top of the cake either before or halfway through baking.
6. Bake at 160 C for 70 minutes until the top is browned and the skewer comes out almost clean. Don’t be concerned if the skin of the cake browns, I quite like it browner than usual, to give a bit of caramelization to the cake. The aroma sits very well with the crumb of the cake and use of brandy.