Italian pear cake

This Italian pear cake is so elegant in its simplicity. This is why it is my husband’s favourite cake. He is not really a ‘cake’ person, but this one makes him very happy, especially with a perfect cup of espresso. My aunt gave me this recipe and I am ever so grateful. Her husband was Italian and she always has a magic touch in the kitchen. The most important ingredient are ripe pears. We are a big family and love having platters of seasonal fruits on the kitchen table, and it’s always a pleasure to finish off over-ripe fruits. So I use old pears for this cake – they melt in beautifully. The corn starch makes the cake fluffier and airy, very Italian style. Just how I like it.
This recipe is easy and the result is grand.


3 ‘very’ ripe pears – peeled & cut into chunks
150 g/ 1 & 1/4 cup plain flour, sifted
150 g/  3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
30 g/ 1/4 cup corn starch
1 pinch salt
90 g/ 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp butter (slightly melted)
3 eggs
Icing sugar (to sprinkle/ decorate on cake)

To serve:

Whipped cream (optional)

Pre-heat the oven 180°C. Cream the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift the flour, corn starch, salt and baking powder together. Add the flour mix and stir well, add the butter till the batter is smooth. Line a 24 cm cake pan with parchment paper, and pour in the batter. Peel the skin off the pears, cut in chunks and drop them on the cake, gently pushing down each piece of pear. It doesn’t matter if the pear sticks out of the cake it will all blend in. Bake for 30 minutes max. Leave to cool before serving. When cool sprinkle icing sugar on cake. Serve with whipped cream on the side.

76 thoughts on “Italian pear cake

  1. Sooo delicious (and very easy to make), light and airy, everyone wanted a second helping. Will definitely become a favourite and frequent dessert in our home. Thank you for the wonderful recipes, it’s very inspiring and infectious to read how passionate you are about food.

    1. I found the cake needed some flavour. I added orange rind, vanilla, cinnamon and 1/2 cup blueberries

  2. This is my kind of dessert; not too sweet and using in-season fruit. My grandmother is part Italian and she and I share a passion for baking. Love all of your recipes! Could you post U.S. measurement? Thank you.

      1. Thank you! I’m overcome with serendipity as I have ALL of the ingredients readily at hand, even the corn flour and had been trying to figure out what to do with overripe pears. Have a great weekend.

  3. Thank you for posting this fab recipe – I’ve now made it twice in four days. The first time I stuck to the exact recipe and today I customised it a little by adding blueberries along with the pears – worked really well as a combination.

    1. Bonsoir! I have never tried to freeze this cake, but I think the pears might get a bit watery if you freeze it – this cake is especially light and airy. So, to answer your question, I don’t think it is suitable for freezing. Best, Mimi x

  4. Loved this – delicious despite me sifting the sugar with the dry ingredients by mistake. BUT, it was undercooked at 30 minutes, still batter-like, so baked for almost an hour and it was superb! Thank you!

  5. I added 1 tablespoon of baking powder because ignored the part about the grams and read it as “1 tbsp”…. so it went bad. could you fix that for people like me. thanks

    (6 g/ 1 tbsp baking powder)

  6. I have visited Nice many times, and have lived in Italy extensively for work: Florence, Rome, Venice, Perugia, I love to cook as well, all cuisines, to tell the truth, but French and Italian are probably my strong suits. I needed to make a dessert, had some very ripe pears, and I saw immediately what you had in mind with this beautiful recipe. Delicious, a hit! A lovely website–I will visit and try more of your recipes.

  7. I’m not sure if I made this recipe right because it didn’t pour…it was thick I ended up spreading it into my pan. But, it still turned out great because the pears were so juicy. Next time I will fold in the pears into the batter before I put into the pan and add just a very light sprinkle of cinnamon.
    Great recipe!!! First time making the Italian Pear cake…made my whole house smell delicious! Thank you for the great recipe 🙂

  8. Hi Mimi,
    I’m going to make this cake tomorrow to celebrate my 11 months old girl!
    Can’t wait and so excited I found the recipe I wanted!!!

  9. Boujour Mimi,

    Ca a l’air delicieux! I’m following up about the baking powder someone asked about – is that meant to be 1 tablespoon or 1 teaspoon? I teaspoons is usually 5 grams.

    Merci de clarifier!

  10. Not only a great cake but one of the most beautiful web sites ever. Thanks for both.

  11. This is a beautiful cake recipe. Delicate, light and easy to make. It is wonderful served warm with ice cream. My parents are Italian and I will be sending her this recipe.

  12. You mention corn flour and in brackets
    Corn starch which is the USA are both different things. Which one should we use?

  13. Mimi, made this cake today. The taste is lovely. It took over an hour to bake and the did not rise much, the final product was like yummy pudding encased in a tasty crumb. Could you give an idea of the proportion of pear to batter? I stopped at two pears instead of three because the quantity of pears seemed almost equal to the batter. I want my next cake to look like the one in your picture, any advice is much appreciated. Thanks.

  14. I love this blog & read any updates as soon as I get the email notification…I have made this cake with gluten free flour instead of wheat flour – I didn’t change any of the other ingredients. It worked well, the only thing was it took longer to cook; 40-50 minutes rather than 30 minutes. Thanks for your inspiring blog & recipes.

  15. Hi I want to make the italian pear cake, but I dont know what is equal to l80 degrees also what is a 24cm cake pan
    Please get back to me as I would like to make this today
    Thank you

  16. I made this cake for Christmas for my family… It is great, especially for my mom, who really doesn’t like overly sweet cakes. The corn flour / corn starch texture is a great addition to my baking tricks. Thank you!

  17. I found this recipe & your blog, when looking for ideas on how I could use up a bunch of overripe pears. : ) It was so simple and just delicious. I had 1 piece, and my husband pretty much had the rest! My only concern when making this was that it would smell quite ‘eggy’, so I added some vanilla extract and it turned out fine. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Thank you – this was truly a wonderful recipe. We were eating it and already planning when next to make it.

  19. Delicious! And so easy! It tasted like the cakes that my Mother-in-law from Germany used to make. She put plums on top. I expect they would work well with this recipe as well.

  20. Hello,
    I made the recipe yesterday but the pears ended at the bottom of the cake plus the cake seems a bit spongy/dry inside, is this the way it’s supposed to be? I didn’t make any changes apart from the fact that I baked it for 35 min.

  21. Hello Mimi!
    Thank you for this amazing blog, I will make the Italian Pear Cake this weekend but I have a question regarding ingredients quantity.
    For example the flour: 150g OR 1 & 1/4 cup, right?
    Thanks for clarify this.

  22. Love the recipe and the nuances added in comments. I’ve baked it, it smells and looks beautiful. I’m wondering how I am going to get it out of the pan looking the way the photo looks in the blog.

  23. Ce gâteau est tout simplement délicieux! Made it exactly as indicated with a small addition of pure vanilla. Merci, Mimi!

  24. I have made this cake repeatedly, with great success and the delight of all to whom it was served (I’m in Australia). I baked it for my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration and they loved it. Possibly the best compliment though was when my 83 year old father-in-law quietly took himself off to the kitchen for a second helping! He never has seconds so I was thrilled! Thank you for sharing it with us.

  25. This really is a wonderful cake, almost angel food-y, with a tender and small crumb. Mine looks just like the picture. Sprinkled just a breath of cinnamon on top. My first corn starch cake … thanks for this recipe!

  26. Mimi, adore the Italian way of using up food which other nationalities might throw away – this beautiful cake is a perfect example, have made it twice before and my third is currently in the oven!
    Am now about to spend some time looking for further inspiration on your very stylish website. Grazie!

  27. What a lovely recipe. 🙂

    I’m just wondering… Is it necessary to peel the pears? I’d love to keep the peel on if that wouldn’t interfere in the final experience. Have you tried it before?

  28. Hi, what does “slightly melted” butter mean? Is it simply melted butter?

    In addition, how do u beat it in? I used oil instead but the oil wouldn’t emulsify with the batter unless I used my mixer. Is that normal? Am I overbeating it?

    I’m asking because my cake came out dense instead of light and fluffy 🙁


  29. Thank you for this fabulous recipe! Finally a way to use the very ripe pears, and such an easy and delicious one! I used brown sugar and added a little lemon zest. The whole family loved this cake, no doubt I will bake it again soon!

  30. Bonsoir! I have been reading the recipe several time….no mention of corn flour in the list of ingredients. Thus teh question: how much corn flour? Merci

  31. Lovely and simple recipe!

    I’ve made it 2 times in these last 2 days, as quick treats – first, as an after-dinner bite with tea for family, then again as a housewarming gift for close friends.
    Works like a charm every time, very easy. Like also that there was no nuts, for those with allergies.

    I substitute corn starch/corn flour with arrowroot powder instead, which is nearly 1:1 but slightly less arrowroot needed.
    The first time I used pears, and only included 2 because it was looking cluttered in the tin and I was worried about adding too much moisture… once baked, I realised it could’ve definitely used the 3rd pear! For extra texture and flavour. The second time, I added 2.5 pears and 2 small peeled plums. Turned out great, I liked the combo of colours. Both fruits are currently in season and perfect for baking.
    Final personal tip is to try not to overbeat the mixtures, so the batter doesn’t get overworked.

    Enjoyed it and will become a household staple. Thank you! x

  32. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. It’s an absolutely divine cake! My family devoured it and it has now become a family favorite. Warmest regards to you.

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