Olive oil & sauternes cake with maple roasted pears

Using olive oil in the cake helps achieve a moist crumb and with the wine and fruit this makes a great dinner-party finisher.


  • ½ cup castor sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup Sauternes (or similar) dessert wine
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 lemons, finely grated zest only
  • 1½ cups plain flour
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • Double cream, to serve

  • For the pears
  • 1 orange
  • 4 beurre bosc pears, halved
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup Sauternes (or similar) dessert wine


Preheat oven to 180°C.

Cut two long strips of rind from the orange, then juice the orange. Peel pears, cut in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place pears in a roasting pan. Combine maple syrup, wine, orange rind and ¼ cup of orange juice, then pour this over the pears. Toss to coat, cover tightly with foil, and place in oven. Roast for 1 hour or until tender and syrup has thickened.

Meanwhile, lightly grease an 11 x 22cm loaf tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.

Beat the sugar and eggs together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add the oil, wine, milk and lemon zest and beat until well combined. Add the sifted flour and baking powder and slowly add to the mixture, continuing to beat until just combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake alongside the pears for 40-50 minutes, until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Slice the cake into eight portions. Drizzle with syrup, add a dollop of cream and serve with the pears.

NOTES: First published in the Good Weekend. Photography by William Meppem and Jennifer Soo. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.

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