To poach the pears, bring the water, brown sugar, vanilla seeds and pod to the boil in a saucepan. Add the pears and amaretto, cover and cook over a gentle simmer for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 180 °C.
Line the bottom and sides of a 23-cm springform baking tin with baking paper.
For the cake, cream the butter, vanilla extract and white sugar together in an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, ensuring they are well mixed in before the next addition.
Sift the flour and baking powder together and add this in 2 parts to the creamed butter and sugar, alternating with the milk and mixing until just combined. Scrape down the bowl and pour half the batter into the prepared baking tin. Layer half the pear quarters over this and lightly press them in. Spread the remaining batter over the pears and press the remaining pears into the top.
Bake for 50–60 minutes until golden-brown and a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cover loosely with aluminium foil about halfway through the baking time to prevent over-browning. Leave to cool in the tin before turning out. Scatter over the toasted flaked almonds.
Serve in slices with fresh cream if you like.
Extracted from Sweet by Sam Linsell (Struik Lifestyle).
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