Olive oil and polenta cake with vermouth pears


  • Serves 8 people

  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 220 gm (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
  • 2 lemons, finely grated rind and juice only
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 190 gm coarse polenta
  • 75 gm (½ cup) plain flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • Vermouth pears
  • 110 gm (½ cup firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 250 ml (1 cup) sweet red vermouth
  • 8 fresh bay leaves
  • 8 pieces of lemon rind, removed with a vegetable peeler
  • 4 firm Packham pears, peeled, cored and halved lengthways
01   Preheat oven to 150C. Using an electric mixer, whisk eggs and sugar until pale and creamy (about 5 minutes). Slowly add olive oil in a thin stream, continuing to whisk, then add lemon rind and vanilla. Combine polenta, flour, baking powder and ½ tsp salt, sift dry ingredients in 3 batches over egg mixture, alternating with lemon juice and folding to combine well. Pour batter into a lightly oiled 20cm ring mould, bake until a skewer withdraws clean (40-45 minutes). Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
02   For vermouth pears, increase oven to 200C. Combine sugar and vermouth in a jug, stir to combine and dissolve sugar. Arrange pears face down snugly in a roasting pan, scatter with bay leaves and lemon rind, pour over vermouth mixture and roast, turning halfway through cooking and basting occasionally, until golden and tender (15-20 minutes). Cool to room temperature.
03   Serve cake in wedges with vermouth pears.







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