Buttermilk Cake with Riesling-Poached Pears

Serving Size: 10
Prep Time:
Total Time:


  • 2 cup cake flour
  • 0.67 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 0.5 cup granulated sugar
  • 0.5 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 9-inch cake pan and line it with a 9-inch round of parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper.

2. In a bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter with both sugars at medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the yolks, one at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla extract. At low speed, alternately beat in the flour mixture and the buttermilk until almost blended. With a rubber spatula, finish folding the mixture together just until smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack to cool completely.


  • 1 750-milliliter bottle Riesling
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved, split and seeds scraped
  • 1 1 3-inch-long strip of orange zest
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 5 Bartlett pears
  • 0.25 cup confectioners' sugar

3. Peel and halve the pears. With a spoon, scoop out the cores and discard. In a large saucepan, combine the Riesling, water, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, orange zest and star anise pods. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the pear halves and simmer over moderate heat, turning once, until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pears to a large plate. Discard the star anise, vanilla bean and orange zest. Boil the Riesling poaching liquid over high heat until reduced to 1 cup and syrupy, about 15 minutes. When the pears have cooled, slice them lengthwise 1/3 inch thick.

4. In a small bowl, combine the crème fraîche, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds and confectioners' sugar.

5. Unmold the cake onto a plate and peel off the paper. Cut the cake into 10 wedges and transfer to plates. Place a sliced pear half alongside each cake slice. Spoon some of the Riesling syrup over the cake, top with some vanilla crème fraîche and serve.