3eggs, at room temperature220 gm(1 cup) caster sugar80 ml(1/3 cup) olive oil2lemons, finely grated rind and juice only1 tspvanilla extract190 gmcoarse polenta75 gm(½ cup) plain flour1½ tspbaking powderVermouth pears110 gm(½ cup firmly packed) brown sugar250 ml(1 cup) sweet red vermouth8fresh bay leaves8pieces of lemon rind, removed with a vegetable peeler4firm Packham pears, peeled, cored and halved lengthways
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.
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.