French Inspired Pear and Vanilla Cake

Rich but delicate. Buttery just light. Sweet but not overly.

This French inspired Pear and Vanilla Cake has become my #1 go to cake. And yes I’ll admit it…I’ve been eating pears wrong all my life up until now!

Before I simply ate them. Maybe poached them occasionally or put them in to a stick toffee situation. But no, all they needed was to be enrobed in vanilla cake batter and left to bake in oven. That’s all. No fuss. No stress. Just left to shine!

The recipe for this cake was inspired by a school trip to France years ago. I remember eating this light and utterly delicious pear cake after a rather awful snails or escargot experience (I hid them under my pork chop but they were discovered by my teacher and I had to try one!).

However the reason I’ve never tried recreating it until now, is simply because pears have never been at the top of my shopping list and I’ve never been short of baking ingredients.

Left with a small amount of butter, sugar and flour, I was craving something sweet. A glut of pears because it was the only thing I could find and some Julia Child knowledge in the bag, I began experimenting.

  • Do I soak the pears in sugar? No.
  • Is that going to be enough cake mix? Yes.
  • Something isn’t right…I’ll soak them in vanilla. O YES YES YES!
  • That pears definitely over but it smells amazing. Yes that’s the sort.

My questioning led to a rare thing. A right recipe first time! That ended up on the floor…but I swiftly made another one that appears in the photo above. Not the one below…

You can get pears pretty much all year round. For this cake however you want a buttery pear like comice which are in season between October and February.

You’ll Need

  • 500g peeled and 1cm chopped ripe comice pears (if you have hens they’ll love the peels. The wild birds love them as well!)
  • 80g butter
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 80g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • Optional: 1/2 lemon zested


  • Oven preheated to 180°C/160°C Fan (I’ve tried making this cake in both a fan and a convection oven. It worked better in the convection.)
  • 20cm cake tin with a loose bottom. Line this with a little butter and a circle of greaseproof paper.
  • Mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon or electric whisk
  • Vegetable peeler or peeling knife if you want to up your knife skills!

A party without cake is just a meeting – Julia Child

Let’s Get Baking!

  1. Put your butter and sugar in your mixing bowl. Cream together until light, fluffy and well mixed.
  2. Add your flour, vanilla and eggs. Combine until you have a smooth cake batter. If you’re using lemon zest add it in here as well.
  3. Add your pears and ensure each little chunk is covered in cake mix.
  4. Fill your cake tin and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Your cake will be golden on top and fluffy on the insice.

Don’t Over Complicate This One

Normally I actively encourage you to go off recipe and add a little of whatever in to your own party. But with this cake, the beauty of it is not only how simple it is, but also how delicate it is.

Adding too many other flavours will change this light delight and make it in to other heavier cakes.

All my recipes are made testing both dairy and dairy free ingredients because although I have a lifetime love affair with salted butter and cheese, it’s a love hate relationship. I love it. It hates me.

With this one, it works with dairy free alternatives, but not cashew butter or anything like that.

Did you make this?

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