TDM CCN Header

30 September 2012

Ricotta & Pear Cake


My husband's and my son's birthdays fall in September with a two-day gap in between them.  Being a Caesarian delivery, I had the liberty to choose the birthday of my son within a given time frame.  It coincided with the period of my husband's birthday.  I think the most natural choice was to set the birthdays of father and son on the same day.  But my husband was against it.  Our son has to have his own space, a special day of his own, however close it is to his father's.


Until last year, I wouldn't even think of baking any birthday cakes at all.  I always buy them.  It's my way of tucking myself into safety rather than disappointing expectant guests with something that's a flop.  Maybe I'm too much of a pessimist but I see birthday cakes as the grand finale' of the party.  It's the second principal thing that gets the attention of everyone, after the celebrant. 


This year, I gathered my courage then I declared that I would be making two birthday cakes for our little celebration.  One for my husband which is this cake and another one for my son which is a chocolate cake.   I was within grasp from the car key to jump on the car to buy cakes in case the ones I made were inedible.  My paranoia was settling me to uneasiness.  But lo!  The cakes were delicious!  And everyone had seconds, even thirds of both cakes.  

So here is one of the two cakes I made that day.   Because of the ricotta, this has a custard-like texture.  It has a mild and very pleasant taste of pears with a slight hint of mint that gave it an additional twist.  

Buon appetito!

UPDATE (26 Nov. 2012):  The Traveling Vineyard has suggested wine pairings of Fissata Blonde Moscato d' Asti and Fissata Red New York for this recipe.  Please click on this link to go to the page. 



Ricotta & Pear Cake

Adapted from Giallo Zafferano's Torta Ricotta e Pere

Ingredients:
For a springform round pan of 24 cm. in diameter
  • 250 g. flour 00
  • 350 g. ricotta
  • 16 g. lievito in polvere (baking powder)
  • 0.5 g. vanillina (vanilla powder)
  • 1 lemon, zest & juice
  • 300 g. pears, pulp only (weight after peeling & coring), diced + 1 whole for garnishing
  • 3 eggs
  • 150 g. sugar + 2 tablespoons for caramelizing 
  • dash of brandy
  • confectioner's sugar for dusting
  • fresh mint leaves (optional)
Directions:
  1. As soon as pears are diced, put them in a bowl and mix with some lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown.  Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, beat sugar with ricotta.  Add vanilla powder.  Add eggs one by one and continue beating the mixture.  
  3. Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, add the zest of 1 lemon to the mixture.  Add sifted flour & baking powder and stir carefully until the the mixture becomes smooth.  Mix in diced pears.
  4. Pour batter to a baking pan that has been previously greased with butter & covered with flour. 
  5. Bake at a pre-heated oven of 180 degrees Celcius for 60 minutes.  Check if cake is cooked by inserting a toothpick or knife at the center of the cake.  If it comes out clean, then take it out of the oven.  If it doesn't come out clean, then leave it in the oven to cook some more.  In case the surface of the cake darkens too much and it is not cooked yet, cover the top part with an aluminum foil and bake until cooked.
  6. When cooked, let it cool then transfer to serving plate.
  7. Meantime, prepare the caramelized pear to decorate the cake with.  Slice pears to round slices.  Take away seeds.  In a small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of sugar with 4 tablespoons of water.  Let it cook until it slightly changes color.  Add 1 teaspoon of butter.  Add pear slices when butter has melted.  Add brandy.  Let alcohol evaporate on high fire.  Set aside.  
  8. Decorate cake with the sliced caramelized pear and mint leaves then sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

UPDATE (26 Nov. 2012):  The Traveling Vineyard has suggested wine pairings of Fissata Blonde Moscato d' Asti and Fissata Red New York for this recipe.  Please click on this link to go to the page.