Torta Rustica di Pere-Rustica Pear Cake

by cakeduchess on November 11, 2011 · 36 comments


I had been craving carrot cake all week. I decided instead to make a parsnip cake. Have you ever had a parsnip cake?

It’s an acquired taste. The parsnips have a strong flavor that does not get masked by the addition of lovely spices. The kids weren’t too impressed with it. I think I’ll stick with carrot cake. 
I thought a nice rustic pear cake would make up for the strong flavored parsnip cake. The kids were grateful and happy. I’m not giving up on my little parsnip cake.
I’m having a difficult time finding enough light these days to take my photos. I know. I live in Florida. How could that be? It’s been raining. We have many cloudy days. When the sun peaks out I rush to try to get a shot. Lately it’s been close to sunset. I take my cake outside and try my best. Little guy is always close behind me. The doggies are always hoping I’ll drop a piece.
My mom had just arrived and helped me hold the fork for this photo. My mom rocks.

A crab wanted to take a bite of my cake. The crab and L were waiting in line for that first slice. Check out my fancy photo prop: tissue paper.

At that same moment, Fabrizio walked by and knocked over the dish that had the sifter filled with powdered sugar. The dogs dove for the sugar. I was trying to get just one more photo and keep L’s hands off the slice of cake.

So that was my frantic photo session before the sun set.
And then it was finally the moment we all were waiting for: a slice of this gorgeous rustic pear cake.
This cake is pretty simple and straightforward. Perfect for an afternoon merenda (snack). You could switch the pears for plums or apples if you prefer.

Torta Rustica di Pere-Rustic Pear Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup light brown sugar, plus one teaspoon
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup whole milk (you could use almond, rice, or coconut milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 firm but ripe small pears, cored and cut lengthwise into quarters
1-2 tablespoons sugar, to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease and dust with flour a line an 8 or 9-inch spring form pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pears and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the light brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sea salt, and cinnamon.  In a medium sized bowl, mix together the sugar, egg, oil, milk and vanilla.  Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Scrape the sides of the bowl while mixing. Spoon in three quarters of the mix into the base of  cake pan-. Scatter the pears on top. Spoon on the rest of the batter and let some of the pears peek through. Sprinkle on some some turbinado sugar and bake 

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 15-20 minutes before removing from the pan. Dust with confectioner’s sugar.

Thanks for coming over to see what’s baking here this week! What’s your favorite fall recipe?

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

bunkycooks November 11, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Your pear cake looks delicious! I agree, getting light to take photos is tough this time of year, especially since we lost an hour of daylight. Lots of baking will be in order now so that photos can be done early in the day.;-)


claudia @whats cookin November 11, 2011 at 2:31 pm

looks terrific one of my favorites, quick and perfect for the holiday! Not too sweet the way i like it! The only difference in mine is a small amount of baking soda to!


Nelly Rodriguez November 11, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Oh this looks sooo good! I need to make this! I haven’t had a good pear yet, so must go and search for them…and then drown them in cake!


movita beaucoup November 11, 2011 at 2:36 pm

We’ve been having the same trouble here – all rain, no light. Your photos are still delightful though!


Jennifurla November 11, 2011 at 3:51 pm

this is so lovely, thick and rich…love


Pretend Chef November 11, 2011 at 4:01 pm

This looks so delicious. I have apples on hand and can’t wait to try this. Crave worthy!


Cher November 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm

That’s beautiful. Have to love pear season!

Bon Appetit Desserts has a parsnip spice cake with a ginger cream cheese frosting that always makes me happy :-)


Carol Egbert November 11, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Lovely recipe and photos. sun is alos in short supply in Vermont this time of the year.


Claudia November 11, 2011 at 7:37 pm

My mother in-law made a rutabaga cake once – she had mixed up her ingredients for the meal – the whole family tell that story. I think I’d stick with your pear cake – and always love the rustic!


Cassie//Bake Your Day November 11, 2011 at 9:14 pm

This is beautiful, that texture looks to-die-for. Delicious and perfectly seasonal!


mellissina2 November 11, 2011 at 10:51 pm

A torta guszta,de biztos finom is,nekem tetszik!Megpróbálom a receptet leírni,de a fordítás nagyon rossz!!!


Reeni November 12, 2011 at 3:02 am

What a lovely cake! It sounds like everyone was waiting for a taste and I can’t blame them one bit. It looks positively delicious. I don’t bake with pears often enough – apple and pumpkin are my favorites. xoxo


marla November 12, 2011 at 3:34 am

I love the idea of both parsnip and pear cake….I am very intrigued by the parsnip version :)


Mari @ Mari's Cakes November 12, 2011 at 3:44 am

Ohhh …Sembra delizioso! It looks good, thanks Lora for this WoNdErFuL recipe!



Jamie November 12, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I would really rather have pear cake than parsnip cake, but I think you could probably make one I would love! This luscious, moist, flavorful cake would even have me eating pears. But JP LOVES pears and LOVES these kind of cakes. Perfect!


Lizzy November 12, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Your mom DOES rock! And you definitely got some gorgeous photos…this is one wonderful cake. I don’t think parsnip cake would go over well here, either :) Have a great weekend, Lora!


Chris November 12, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I am thinking olive oil would probably work well here, like you did with that lucious lemon cake this summer :) I may have to try it. My mother-in-law is coming Friday, there are pears at the farm, and well…yum! :) Ooohh…and I do have some pear liqueur I could probably throw a bit in when I cook the pears…Speaking of which…what do you cook the pears in? A skillet yes, but with some butter, water?


Gina November 12, 2011 at 5:39 pm

The best light is gone here too, sniff, sniff. So glad your mom is back home and can help you. It was so great getting to meet her, hoping you come next year too. It’s lots of fun. Hope you have a great weekend, say hi to mom for me.


Heather Christo November 12, 2011 at 6:07 pm

pretty cake! U am having the same terrible trouble with light in Seattle. But all the sudden sunset is happening around 3:45-4pm, its crazy!


Nancy November 12, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Beautiful fall cake!! I love anything with pears so I know I would love this cake!


Farmgirl Gourmet November 12, 2011 at 8:26 pm

This looks fantastic Lora!! I have pears on the counter that are calling me right now!! :)



Carolyn November 12, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Just beautiful, Lora!


Chef Dennis November 13, 2011 at 1:14 am

what a gorgeous cake, the texture looks soooo good! Don’t get me started with lighting issues….sigh it gets dark way too soon now.

thanks for sharing this magnificent pear cake with us!


Elies_Lie November 13, 2011 at 2:12 am

I always loes have a veggie or fruit in a cake! I’m sure this will be a delish & healthy dessert fr kids & mommy :)
Tq fr sharing the recipe Lora! Have a great blessed weekend to u too! ;)


Paula November 13, 2011 at 4:05 am

This gorgeous pear cake would look delicious in any lighting! Hope you had a nice visit with your Mom over coffee and cake and then more coffee and more cake… :)


Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. November 13, 2011 at 4:33 am

I know what you mean about the lighting troubles! I live in Florida too and had trouble last week since it was so cloudy! But, your cake still came out looking delicious!


Barbara | Creative Culinary November 13, 2011 at 5:51 am

Ok, Ok you Floridians; you are not alone. I live a mile closer to the sun and I’m having trouble too! Drat the end of DST!

Cake, as always…gorgeous Lora. I stumbled all over it. :)


foodwanderings November 14, 2011 at 12:45 am

Aww Miss Lora what a fantastic photo shoot session! Love the crap and tissue paper props:) I was cracking up at your little parsnip sweet experiment, I know it does sweetness to savory dishes though! :)


Happy When Not Hungry November 14, 2011 at 1:25 am

This looks beautiful! I love the flavors too. Def need to try!


jhl November 14, 2011 at 2:32 am

I love apple crisps, but thanks for reminding me about pears! I also have a pear-cranberry crostata with cardamom that is a favorite here … I’m looking forward to trying this one!


Grubarazzi November 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm

This is really beautiful.


Maria November 14, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Beautiful dessert!


Priscilla - She's Cookin' November 16, 2011 at 3:52 am

This time of year makes food photography a challenge, even here in Southern Cal, but you managed to make that pear tart look pretty awesome! Now, to find some decent pears :)


Diane {Created by Diane} November 17, 2011 at 5:33 am

looks absolutely wonderful!!


kita November 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm

I totally wish I had a fork holding helper! Its sooo hard trying to do that solo.
This looks beautiful (as always!) so I say you are coping well with the seasonal change in photography.


heather October 25, 2013 at 9:11 pm

I posted a pear & parsnip cake recipe on . I LOVE the combination of the pear and parsnips together. We just finished making it now.


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