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. 











24 comments:

  1. I love this cake, Rowena! The ricotta and pears sound perfect together and I love your caramelized pear topping. Can't wait to see your chocolate creation for your son - of course both cakes were a wonderful success, I'm surprised you had any doubt! ;)

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    1. Laura, I still have doubts about the baker in me. I survive and make some good ones now and then. Thank you very much!

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  2. I'm so glad you made this cake, Rowena, it's gorgeous and I can see why everyone would have had multiple servings of it. I suspect that there will be no more cake-buying from now on. I still remember you mentioning in one of your posts that you're not a baker. I think your family and your readers would beg to differ given all the baked treats you've given us lately.

    I baked a sweet treat this weekend, too. It was my husband's birthday also. :)

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    1. I saw your prep pictures of the cake and I can't wait to see the outcome. I'm still trying with the baking and happy that I get successful ones more this time. Thanks Jean!

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  3. This is a lovely cake, Rowena!

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  4. What a pricelessly beautifully cake plated on just the right dish :) ! Not a baker myself, but can appreciate! For what it is worth: much to our collective surprise both my older daughter and my father shared the birthdate of 14 October! When she turned one, he was 61 - then the time to depart came. And, unbelievably, my best girlfriend was to die in a car accident en route > me, on the same day years later . . . However thrilling the early days were, please believe me that in a fortnight I'll have very mixed memories - methinks your husband made the right choice for a lifetime . . .

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    1. I think my husband made the right choice too. My son wouldn't feel like a shadow to him on their birthdays. You, on the other hand, have a date in the calendar that is quite sweet and painful. I have a date like that too. Our 10th wedding anniversary turned out to be the day when we had to put our longtime family dog to sleep and on the other side of the globe, my sister's longtime family dog was also being put to sleep. They're dogs I know but they meant the world to us. Both died of cancer. It was also my Mom's birthday who died of cancer...

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  5. I don't bake birthday cakes for the exact same reason! But I realized that our level of worries are very different... LOL. Look at you, Weng, you can make this beautiful cake and still worry, while me... I should be seriously worry about getting a car key. Great job! Not sure how Italian cakes look like but this cake is so pretty and it's much better than a store bought. Great job Weng!!

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    1. I'm practicing a lot Nami to create some nice, edible cakes! LOL! Italian cakes are very simple, always or often covered with icing sugar like this. They're not so elaborate looking but they are good.

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  6. I have just posted a ricotta and cherry cake on my blog. I got the recipe a couple of days ago from the woman running a Bed & Breakfast in Sorrento. It was a wonderful place and she made all her own food from the produce on her land. We had a great stay there but we are now in the north. Her cake is a little different with the ricotta and cherries (amarene)as a filling. It was delicious so I know your one would be too.

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    1. I just saw your post Suzanne. Boy, that cake can pull you to Sorrento! It would be a place to keep in mind whenever we are in town. Thanks!

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  7. This looks divine, and love the flavor combo! would you please share this with the Bakefest blog event on my blog? here are the details: http://www.funandfoodcafe.com/2012/10/blog-event-bake-fest-12.html

    Thanks!
    Mansi

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  8. Yum! I want to try this... but can i use canned pears or do they have to be fresh? Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. I never tried canned pears before but I'm sure it will go well with the cake. Enjoy!

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  9. Hi Rowena:
    I am baking this cake now...can't wait to take a nibble or two. Just wanted to ask: Should the vanilla powder should be 16g also? The one I purchased was only .5g and the original recipe you linked to said, "una bustina" which means one little bag. So, I went with that one little bag instead. The baking powder, or lievito in polvere was a 16g. pouch/baggie. I wonder if this was a typo. Please clarify.

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  10. Hi LP, I just checked and you are right! It is .5 g. Thank you for advising me. I will correct it now.

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  11. Made this cake yesterday for my book club meeting. Everyone loved loved loved the cake! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe and wonderful photography

    PS: I also minced some chocolate mint leaves from my garden and added them to every slice. Amazing taste and freshness :)

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    1. Thank you for telling me about it Yanina! It means a lot to me. I like your idea of minced chocolate mint leaves. It should have great!

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