Pear Windfall and Italian Pear Cake

Most people these days would probably associate a ‘windfall’ with unexpected good fortune, a financial gain, perhaps a lottery win or an unforeseen inheritance. However, If you live with fruit trees in your back yard, a windfall is that day after a strong wind when fruit drops suddenly and the ground is strewn with ripe bounty.  In the case of windfall pears, the window of opportunity is short. They are usually very ripe and need to be used quickly.

Our earliest pear tree, Clapp’s Favourite, originated from a seedling that occurred by chance in Massachusetts in 1850. It is reliable cropper with bright yellow skin turning red on the sunny side of the tree, with juicy white flesh. It resembles a William pear but the fruit is much larger and is not a good keeper.

Clapps Favourite. Windfall pears.

With the recent windfall pears, I set to work before bruising set in. To freeze for winter, peel, core and dice the good usable flesh, then poach in a light sugar syrup- one part sugar to four parts water is the lowest sugar/water ratio you can use. Poach for a couple of minutes only then place the fruit in containers, covered with poaching liquid and leaving a few centimeters of head space before freezing. Not one to waste anything, I reheated the left over poaching liquid, added a pinch or so of Persian saffron then reduced the liquid to a thicker sauce. The resulting gold and pink syrup can live for a while in the fridge to use as a glaze or a simple drizzle over ice cream.

A classic Italian Pear Cake, Torta di Pere, is easy to make and keeps well in a covered container for three days. Lovely for breakfast or afternoon tea, it has a subtle pear and vanilla flavour, old-fashioned and comforting. I’m also considering the future of my remaining windfall Clapps pears-  perhaps a pear, almond and chocolate cake or a Pear and Ginger Clafoutis.

Torta di Pere. Italian Pear Cake

  • 3 eggs
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 150 g SR flour, sifted
  • 30 g corn flour/corn starch
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 90 g butter, melted
  • 2-3 pears, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks

To Serve

Icing sugar to dust and whipped cream or marscapone lightened with cream and a drizzle of reserved saffron syrup.


Pre-heat the oven 180°C. Cream the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla. Sift the flour, corn starch, salt together. Add to the egg batter and stir well, then add the melted butter and stir until the batter is smooth. Grease and line a 24 cm cake pan with baking paper and pour in the batter. Place the pear pieces on the cake, gently pushing down each piece into the batter leaving a little exposed. Bake for 35- 40 minutes, until the top is golden and the cake is set inside. Leave to cool before serving. When cool sprinkle icing sugar on cake. Serve with whipped cream on the side.

Done and dusted.
Pear tart in profile. Nice soft crumb, vanilla notes with subtle pear flavour.


Recipe courtesy of Manger

If you are after some interesting fruit trees and live in Australia, Yalca has many unusual varieties. They are posted bare rooted in winter but you need to put in your orders well in advance. Our Yalca trees are thriving.

There’s a pear in there….


26 thoughts on “Pear Windfall and Italian Pear Cake”

  1. You are far too guilty of teasing us with unavailable fruits in Far North Qld. But when I lived near you, when pears were a bucket for nothing, I was introduced to an amazing soup recipe including said fruit with parsnips, veggie broth and yoghurt or Mascarpone or sour cream with a mixed fresh herb topping. I’m sure you have this recipe from Madame Neil, as I do, but during our cooler tropical months when we get the affordable southern fruit & veggie leftovers, it’s proven to be splendiferous entree that delivers a southern taste nigh-matched by any FNQ options. However your fresh preserves, Tortes, cakes and yummy puddings are unbeaten. As an aside, figs are $36.00 a kilo here and pears are $12.50, parsnips at $26.00. Our late season mangoes are on the wane and a 40 kg box is going for $10.00. Do the Math – enjoy seasonal food.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I could send some up in a plastic bag!!! I’ll have to wait a while to make that lovely soup alla Norma as all the parsnips in Melbourne are rather woody and young ones won’t be on the scene for a while. God mangoes are still around. will they wait for me when I come in April? No doubt there’ll be another gorgeous fruit in season instead.


      1. Albeit frozen cheeks but alas Frozen mango daiquiris await your arrival – as promised. The late season mangoes are only available at our farmers’ markets due to the small yield but alas they serve well. Our season finishes late March but not available for commercial sale. Having a four month season suits us well. However, I’ll pass on the stewed parsnips thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think pear cakes are my favourite. Also good in a ricotta tart. And for cooler weather, in a light pumpkin soup. I love the saved poaching liquid, I find such leftovers very useful and the saffron is a wonderful touch.


    1. You and Peter are soul mates. He has suggested pear paired with parsnip and you with pumpkin. I have not ever used pear in a soup and now I must try. Or later, when the late autumn pears arrive to match the arrival of pumpkins and parsnips.


  3. Francesca thank you very much for sharing. I have copied your recipe and I am going to put it into action. Lovely post with beautiful pictures. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gorgeous images F! We have loads of pears .. and apples. I love the idea of the mini poach and then into the freezer. I have been so busy this year .. missing Bill in my kitchen. Mulled pears with cider is delicious. Hugs


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