Pear torte

A variation on Marian Burros’s famous plum torte recipe – buttery perfection, lovely to look at and simple to make. By popular request, it was published annually in the New York Times from 1981 until its official retirement in 2005.


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)
  • 2 large or 3 medium pears, ripe but firm (Bosc or Anjou are good choices; Bartlett won’t hold shape when cooked)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar and sprinkle of nutmeg, for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a springform (8, 9 or 10 inches) or cake pan.
  2. Cream sugar and butter in a bowl. Add eggs and beat well. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Peel pears and cut in half lengthwise. Cut half again and trim out core in each section. Slice thinly.
  4. Spoon the batter into prepared pan. Place pear slices, one overlapping the next, on top of the batter, forming circles from the outer edge of the pan toward the center. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and nutmeg.
  5. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool to lukewarm, and serve.

Makes 8 servings.


  • Bake a day ahead and store at room temperature. Reheat gently in a low oven if you like.
  • To freeze, double-wrap the torte in foil, place in a plastic bag, and seal. Defrost and serve at room temperature, or warm in 300 degree F oven before serving.
  • Marian and Lois’s apple-cranberry version: in place of pears, use three medium apples, peeled, cored, sliced into 1/2 inch slices (tossed with lemon juice if you like) and 1/3 cup dried cranberries, soaked in hot water (some to sprinkle on top and rest added to batter). Arrange apple slices, overlapping slightly, forming circles from the outer edge of the pan toward the center. Mix 2-3 tablespoons of sugar with 1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon; sprinkle on top of apples.
  • Try peaches, apricots or berries in the summer. Use a sprinkle of cinnamon instead of nutmeg if you prefer.
  • You can also add vanilla or almond extract. But use sparingly, as the extracts tend to detract from the buttery taste of the cake.

Here’s a link back to the post and pictures.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment