Italian Pear Cake
This moist fruit-forward cake really requires no frosting, but you could add a decorative sprinkling of powdered sugar to the top before you serve with dark, rich demitasse cups of espresso.
Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour a 10-inch springform pan. Peel the pears; chop one into small pieces for the batter, and slice the other two in lengthwise slices and reserve. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir to mix, then add lemon zest. Reserve. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine ¾ cup sugar and eggs and beat for 2 minutes. When the eggs are light yellow and frothy, add the mascarpone and olive oil and beat until smooth. Use a spatula to slowly fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture, being careful not to over-stir. Fold in the chopped pears. Spread the batter in the springform pan and smooth the top. Arrange the pear slices in a pinwheel design on top of the cake, and sprinkle with the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar. Bake for 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with only moist crumbs attached. Cool on a rack, then run a paring knife around the edges of the cake and remove the springform rim. Serve immediately, or store, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 days at room temperature.
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