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Pear Charlotte Cake Recipe

The pear offers a sweet earthiness that makes a great foundation to build flavours on top of.
Pear Charlotte Cake | Michele Bogle
Pear Charlotte Cake | Michele Bogle

The most commonly shared story for this cake is that it originated in Britain in the late 1700s, named after Queen Charlotte; wife of King George III. It was created by legendary French Chef Marie-Antonin Carême, who was rumoured to be obsessed with Queen Charlotte.

According to early accounts, the no-bake cream-filled dessert was also filled with apple compote and topped with bread crumbs. His forbidden adoration continued while serving the Russian Czar, when he designed a jellied custard set in a crown of ladyfingers, appropriately named a Charlotte Russe.

Over time, this cake has been enjoyed with a variety of fruits infused into it to keep it fresh and exciting. You could say that the recipe that I have laid out below is a combination of both the Charlotte Cake and the Charlotte Russe. As it is pear season, I thought it suitable to present a delicious option for an overused, but underappreciated fruit.

The pear has provided support for countless juice products, baby foods, fruit cocktails, and so much more. The pear offers a sweet earthiness that makes a great foundation to build flavours on top of. One doesn’t usually see the pear stand alone in a dessert – until today.

The creamy vanilla custard, whipped cream and mascarpone is made more substantial and balanced with the gritty texture of the sugary pear in this recipe. I hope that you enjoy it. After all, this is a dessert fit for a queen.

Roberts Farms at the Civitan Farmers Market at Dorval Crossing in Oakville has a variety of farm-fresh pears, ready for you to select. There are many makers as well there, like Fresh Market Farms with their beautiful flowers. If you visit the farm directly, you can customize your bouquet by picking them yourself. The market is open Saturdays from 8 am to 1 pm.

Pear Charlotte Cake Recipe

By Michele Bogle



6 x 3 inch cake pan, spatula, hand mixer, frypan, medium saucepan, peeler, paring knife, plastic wrap, medium-sized mixing bowl, spoon, rolling pin, pastry brush, piping bag, large pastry tip


Diplomat Cream

2 cups milk

1/2 tsp lemon juice

⅛ tsp Kosher salt

⅛ cup cornstarch

⅛ cup water

1/3 cup sugar

2 eggs yolks

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup mascarpone

1 cup whipping cream

1 pkg gelatin, bloomed

Pear Purée

2 pears

2 tsps sugar

1 tsp lemon juice

4 Tbsps water

Caramelized Pear

5 pears, peeled and sliced into 30 pieces

½ cup sugar

⅛  cup olive oil

1 Tbsp chopped walnuts for finishing


½ loaf Brioche

⅛ cup butter, melted


Step 1

Peel, core and dice 2 pears. In a saucepan, add 4 tablespoons of water, diced pear, lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 8 minutes until mixture has softened. Mash any pieces that haven’t broken down, to create purée. Let cool.

Step 2

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, lemon and salt to a low boil. Remove from heat. In a bowl, beat ⅓ cup sugar and egg yolks with a hand mixer until pale in colour. Beat in cornstarch, then lower speed and carefully incorporate half of the hot milk mixture.

Step 3

Pour combined ingredients into the saucepan with the remaining half of the hot milk mixture. On medium heat, stir constantly for approximately 15 minutes while mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add in the vanilla, mascarpone and bloomed gelatin. Then incorporate pear purée. Allow to cool.

Step 4

With a mixer, beat cream until stiff. Set aside ⅓ cup for finishing. Fold whipped cream into custard mixture with spatula. Chill until ready to use.

Step 5

On medium heat, pour olive oil and ½ cup of sugar into a saucepan. Place pear slices into a pan and allow to caramelize on each side. Cover and let rest. Set aside 6 slices for the finishing.

Step 6

Wet the inside of the cake pan. Line the inside with plastic wrap, allowing overhang. Slice 3 pieces of brioche, half an inch in thickness. Trim the crust. Prepare your working surface with approximately 16 inches of plastic wrap. Lay the slices side-by-side on the plastic wrap, slightly overlapping one another. Lay another piece of plastic wrap, of the same size, over the bread.

With a rolling pin, flatten bread; eliminating separation of pieces. Trim what is now one long piece to fit perfectly around the inside of a 6 inch baking pan, 3 inches wide. Apply a generous amount of butter to top of bread with a pastry brush. Cut the piece in half, lengthwise. On medium-high heat, place the two buttered pieces in a saucepan for approximately 1 to 2 minutes, until gold brown.

Step 7

Arrange the golden bread pieces around the inside of the cake pan. Slice additional pieces of half-inch thick brioche to cover the bottom, snugly. Spoon half of the pear-infused diplomat cream in and spread to cover the bottom brioche layer completely. Add half of the pear slices side-by-side. Repeat one more time, covering the second row of pear slices with pear-infused diplomat cream. Seal the top with plastic wrap and freeze for 3 hours.

Step 8

Remove cake from pan with plastic wrap overhang. Remove plastic wrap from cake and set on serving dish. Lay remaining caramelized pear pieces on top. Pipe reserved whipping cream and add walnut accents. Serve.