Vanilla Cake with Pears
Yield: 18 cm round cake pan + 4 ramekins
For the Pears:
1 L water
375 g sugar
juice and zest (remove it in long stripes using a vegetable peeler) of 1/2 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
Combine last 4 ingredients in a large saucepan, bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Slice off the bottom of each peeled pear so that it stands upright and remove the seeds. Carefully put pears in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, turning occasionally, until pears are slightly tender and soft, for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter.
For the Batter:
180 g butter, room temperature
190 g sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
190 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
40 ml milk
Preheat the oven to 165 C. Grease 18 cm round cake pan and 4 ramekins.
Beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy for about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract. Sift the flour and combine it with baking powder. Reduce the speed of an electric mixer to low and add the half of the flour mixture to butter and egg mixture in a few additions. Add milk, followed by the rest of dry ingredients. Beat a few more minutes.
Pour the batter into the cake pan and ramekins. Carefully push in the pears until they reach the bottom. Bake for about 1 hour and 25 minutes (~50 minutes for ramekins), or until toothpick comes out clean.