5 small firm, ripe Bartlett pears (7 ounces each)
1 1/2 cups blanched almonds
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1/4 cup apricot preserves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 2 1/2-quart gratin or 15 1/2 x 9 1/2-inch baking dish.
Peel, halve and core the pears. Halve pieces lengthwise, then cut each piece into 4 lengthwise slices, leaving stem end intact. In food processor, finely grind almonds with sugar. Add flour and baking powder; pulse to mix. In large bowl, whisk butter, eggs, milk and vanilla extract until mixed; stir in almond mixture. Pour batter into prepared dish; spread evenly. Place pear pieces on batter as close together as possible so all pears fit, pushing pieces down into batter; sprinkle sliced almonds over pears and batter. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until cake is browned and firm. Cool on wire rack.
In small saucepan, over low heat, melt preserves. Strain; brush on cake top. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.