Italian pear cake

This Italian pear cake is so elegant in its simplicity. This is why it is my husband’s favourite cake. He is not really a ‘cake’ person, but this one makes him very happy, especially with a perfect cup of espresso. My aunt gave me this recipe and I am ever so grateful. Her husband was Italian and she always has a magic touch in the kitchen. The most important ingredient are ripe pears. We are a big family and love having platters of seasonal fruits on the kitchen table, and it’s always a pleasure to finish off over-ripe fruits. So I use old pears for this cake – they melt in beautifully. The corn flour makes the cake fluffier and airy, very Italian style. Just how I like it.
This recipe is easy and the result is grand.


3 ‘very’ ripe pears
150 grs flour
150 grs caster sugar
6 grs baking powder
30 grs corn flour
1 pinch salt
90 grs butter (slightly melted)
3 eggs
Icing sugar

To serve:

Whipped cream (optional)

Pre-heat the oven 180°C. Cream the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift the flour, corn flour, salt and baking powder together. Add the flour mix and stir well, add the butter till the batter is smooth. Line a 24 cm cake pan with parchment paper, and pour in the batter. Peel the skin off the pears, cut in chunks and drop them on the cake, gently pushing down each piece of pear. It doesn’t matter if the pear sticks out of the cake it will all blend in. Bake for 30 minutes max. Leave to cool before serving. When cool sprinkle icing sugar on cake. Serve with whipped cream on the side.

Roast chicken with rosemary, lemon and thyme

Summer night dinner at home.

My daughter Louise climbing the apple tree during dinner.


1 whole farm chicken
A few rosemary and thyme sprigs
1 lemon (cut in quarters)
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves (skin on)
olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

For the gravy:

All the juices from the roasting pan
Half glass white wine
1 tbsp plain flour
Salt & pepper

I roast a chicken at least once a week. In France, I always buy the poulet fermier jaune (farmer’s yellow chicken – it basically means that it is corn-fed chicken). The flesh is yellower and richer in taste.
Take the chicken out 2 hours before roasting. Cooking meat straight from the fridge dries it out. I have learnt how important it is to roast meat at room temperature – that really is the secret to a great juicy chicken, therefore a successful gravy. Place the chicken on a roasting pan, salt and rub olive oil all over the poultry, salt lightly in the cavity and stuff the rosemary, bay leaf and thyme sprigs, the garlic with the skin on and the lemon cut in quarters. Leave to rest.
In a full-on 240°C pre-heated oven, place the chicken in the center. Then lower the heat to 190-200°C and cook for 1 hour. I don’t do anything to it for 1 whole hour.
When ready, take out the chicken, cover with a tinfoil then a tea towel. Place the roasting pan filled with the chicken juices on to a stove on medium heat and add the wine. It should be bubbling away so let it reduce for a few minutes. Sprinkle the flour and whisk the sauce until it thickens to a perfect gravy. Pour in a serving dish and there you have a delicious gravy flavoured with lemon, thyme, rosemary and wine. Simply divine.

I serve this dish with roast potatoes, a corn salad and sucrine lettuce. I usually roast two chickens because there is nothing better that cold chicken sandwiches for the next day’s lunch.