Almond-Pear Cake Recipe

María del Mar Sacasa

This recipe transforms the classic French almond-pear tart's flavors into a cake.

Note: Zest the lemon before juicing if using for the pear poaching section of this recipe because you'll need it for the cake. Pears can be poached and stored, refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 days in advance. Good quality canned pears are an acceptable substitute here.

Recipe Details

Almond-Pear Cake Recipe

Active 45 mins
Total 3 hrs
Serves 10 to 12 servings


  • For the Pears
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup (about 3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon (see note)
  • 4 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 4 Seckel pears, halved from pole to pole and cored
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • For the Cake
  • 1 1/4 cups (about 6 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons pear poaching liquid
  • 1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (about 3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons almond paste
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (see note)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seeds (optional)


  1. For the Pears: In small saucepan, bring wine, water, sugar, lemon juice, and cardamom pods to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add pears, and simmer, turning occasionally, until pears are just tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pears from heat and cool (in syrup) to room temperature, at least 30 minutes.

  2. Remove and discard cardamom pods, then transfer pears to cutting board with slotted spoon. Cut pears crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Reserve poaching liquid. Brush bottom and sides of 9-inch round cake pan with butter. Arrange pears in decorative pattern.

  3. For the Cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

  4. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In liquid measuring cup, combine poaching liquid, milk, and vanilla; set aside.

  5. In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, almond paste, and lemon zest with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

  6. Decrease mixer speed to low and add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with milk mixture, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Increase speed to medium and beat mixture just until combined, about 15 seconds.

  7. Spoon batter over pears and spread evenly. Bake until tester inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating cake halfway through baking. Transfer cake to cooling rack and cool in pan 15 minutes, then invert directly onto cooling rack. Cool cake completely, about 1 hour. Dust with optional confectioners’ sugar and ground cardamom. Serve.

Special equipment

small saucepan, slotted spoon, 9-inch round cake pan, electric mixer, rubber spatula, cooling rack

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