This Pear Ricotta Cake has a lovely light texture and stays moist and delicious for days. Bake it with the tree fruit of your choice and top it with a rich almond crumble for extra crunch.
Disclosure: This post is part of a partnership with Life’s Simple Ingredient. All opinions and experiences are my own.
I love baking with seasonal fruit. Not only is it delicious, but I figure a little extra vitamins and fibre are good for everyone! You’re going to love this fall flavoured vintage Apple Dapple Cake with tea or these sticky sweet and sour Plum Cinnamon Rolls for brunch.
Pear Ricotta Cake with Crumble Topping
This Pear Ricotta Cake is the cake to bake when you want just a little something sweet but not too decadent. It’s great with afternoon tea, for a sweet end to the day, or hey …even for breakfast! I’m not one to judge.
Who wouldn’t love a one layer snacking cake that keeps for days (if you can resist it that long!)? It bakes up easily in a springform pan and has a light, even texture without being too dry.
The secret to this cake recipe is the ricotta cheese. For a cake that doesn’t contain any butter or shortening, it’s astonishing how rich and moist it is. No one will ever know how low fat it is because of its stunning flavour.
This year we harvested a modest crop of pears from our backyard trees. My husband made some amazing pear cider from his allotted portion while I chose to do some baking and preserving. I was so thrilled to use our harvest in this delicious cake!
Ricotta Cake, an Italian Tradition
A ricotta cake is a traditional Italian cake that became popular as a result of rationing during WWII. It features ricotta instead of more expensive and (sometimes) scarce butter. This cake was born from economy, practicality, and sacrifice.
This pear crumble cake recipe is pretty far from the classic orange or lemon ricotta cake. It contains chopped fruit instead of orange or lemon zest and is topped with a golden oat and almond crumble.
Ingredients for this Pear Ricotta Cake
It’s amazing how such simple ingredients can come together to make such a beautiful cake.
If you prefer to skip the topping altogether, simply arrange sliced pears over top of the batter before baking. Then, sprinkle a light layer of confectioner’s sugar over the top once it has cooled.
- Baking Soda
- Ground Cardamom
- Brown Sugar
- Ricotta Cheese
As I said, all you need to bake this wonderful cake are fairly common baking ingredients. All purpose flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, oats, cinnamon, and a little fancier …ground cardamom because it is just brilliant with pear.
Unsalted butter is always preferable in baking because it allows you to control the amount of salt. However, if you only have salted butter, go ahead and use that. Just remember to decrease the salt you add to the dry ingredients.
Use any style of pear you like. Mine were backyard pears and the over ripe ones are perfect for grating into the batter or dicing up. If you are skipping the topping, you’ll want to decorate with somewhat nicer pears.
What is Ricotta?
Ricotta is a creamy white Italian cheese with a texture similar to cottage cheese but with smaller curds. The best part is that it’s made from whey, which is a by-product of cheese making. It’s practically made from leftovers!
Without going into a lot of detail, the cheese making process involves removing the milk fat from cow’s or sheep’s milk. This results in two products: cheese and liquid whey. The whey is mostly protein, which can be made to coagulate under low pH and high temperature.
In Italian cuisine, ricotta can be used in both sweet (cakes, cheesecakes, cookies, and cannoli filling) and savoury applications (filled pasta, calzone, stromboli, and pasta sauces).
How to Make a Ricotta Cake
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Next, grease a 9 inch springform pan then line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the all purpose flour, salt, baking powder, and ground cardamom together. Set the dry ingredients aside for now as you mix the crumble ingredients together in a small bowl. The crumble mixture should resemble coarse crumbs.
To make the batter, measure the sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the room temperature eggs and mix vigorously with the paddle attachment until the mixture becomes light in colour and has a light sheen.
Cut a pear in half lengthwise, then cut out the core. Grate it cut side down on a box grater until only the skin remains. Discard and then grate the other half. Add the pear and ricotta to the wet mixture. Stir gently until almost combined.
Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir until just combined. It’s really important not to overmix the batter so that the cake bakes up light and airy.
Core, then dice up another pear in 1/2 inch chunks (peel if you prefer) then fold them gently into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Slice the other two pears in half lengthwise, core, then slice each half into wedges lengthwise. Arrange the pear wedges in a circular design on top of the batter then spoon the crumble evenly over the pears.
How to Tell When a Cake is Done Baking
Bake the cake for 50 minutes, then check with a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake. If it comes out wet, bake for another 10 minutes and check again.
Repeat, adding five minutes extra baking time until the cake tester comes out of the cake clean, the cake is ready. NOTE: You may need to cover the cake with aluminum foil if the slivered almonds start browning too much.
Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the outer ring of the springform pan and let it cool completely. Serve at room temperature with a scoop of ice cream or a little whipped cream.
Can I Use Other Fruit in this Ricotta Cake?
You can use most tree fruits and some stone fruits in this cake if you are able to grate them. Pears and apples work the best while peaches and plums would only be suitable for slicing on top of the cake prior to baking.
How to Store Cake Leftovers
Store the cake in an airtight container on your kitchen counter. It will be good for three to four days, though it likely won’t be around for that long! The cake also freezes nicely for up to three months in the freezer.
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