Ciao'd with a beer and chili. It's the Super Bowl, y'all.



Marcella Hazan said, "This is so modest and elementary a cake it could almost be called naive." She's right that it's a simple, rustic dessert. It is also soooooo #dolcevitadelish. When I made the recipe, I was skeptical as the ratio of fruit to batter tipped to fruit. Would the cake be sticky and/or soggy? I should not have questioned Marcella's genius. The baked cake delivers layers of sweet pears with a custardy filling in between. It is honest and light. Serve the cake with a dollop of whipped cream and raspberries, if you wish, but it is truly perfection on its own. 

Serves 6

2 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1/4 cup dry, unflavored bread crumbs
2 pounds fresh pears, such as Bosc or Comice
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350F. 

Grease a 9-inch cake pan with butter, and sprinkle the bread crumbs on it. Turn the pan upside down, and tap it or shake it lightly to get rid of the loose crumbs. 

Peel the pears. Cut them in half, and scoop out the seeds and core. Cut them into thin slices, no more than 1-inch thick.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract to combine. Add the sugar and salt, and continue beating to mix. Add the flour, mixing it thoroughly with the other ingredients. Add the pears to the bowl, and gently stir to coat with the batter. 

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, leveling it off with the back of a spoon or spatula. Dot the surface with the two tablespoons of butter. 

Bake the cake in the upper level of the oven until it is set in the middle and the top is lightly browned, about 45 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan as soon as it is cool and firm. Recipe adapted from Marcella Hazan, More Classic Italian Cooking, Knopf, 1978.