Friday, October 12, 2012
Almond Pear Cake - Gluten Free and Dairy Free!
I went to visit my friend and co-worker Julia this week. I was hoping to raid her house for food photo props. She has all the cool vintage stuff I like.....linens, pretty dishes, doilies, place mats and lace (I found out her family had a long heritage of lace-making - so awesome!). It was also her birthday.
Julia asked me to bring a cake. Of course...everyone needs to have cake on their birthday....and not the box kind. REAL, homemade cake! I was happy to oblige. The catch? She is gluten-free and dairy-free. I hadn't done much gluten-free baking, but I'm always up for a challenge.
My hubby, Jay, went with me over to Julia's house. She treated us to a delicious lunch with a lovely green salad with strawberries and cashews and homemade vegetable soup. We sat outside in her garden. It was a delightful space, with her well-loved garden of flowers, plants, and vegetables around us. We talked, we laughed, and we had cake!
If you want to make a cake that's gluten-free, this recipe is a winner. It is straightforward and doesn't have a laundry list of ingredients. I like that. It bakes up golden and crusty on the outside and is very moist and almost custardy on the inside. Swoon.
We had such a nice visit and I scored lots of fun goodies for my food photos (thank you Julia, you rock!) And Julia loved her cake, which made me smile inside and out.
p.s. - Don't forget the dairy-free coconut milk ice cream. It is the perfect dreamy finish to this plate. Glad I left it with her and didn't bring it home. That stuff is dangerous!
Almond Pear Cake
adapted from http://simplygluten-free.com/blog/2010/09/pear-almond-cake.html
4 ripe but firm pears
1¾ cups plus 2 teaspoons cane sugar, divided
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3¼ cups finely ground blanched almond meal
8 large eggs
1¼ teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided
1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
1 tablespoon grape seed oil
½ cup sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly spray a 10-inch spring form pan with gluten-free non-stick cooking spray. Cut a circle of parchment to fit the bottom of the pan, place in the pan and spray it lightly with more cooking spray.
Peel and core the pears. Chop three of the pears roughly and slice the fourth into about ¼ inch slices. Take the chopped pears and put in a small, microwavable bowl with the lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Cover and microwave on high power for 4 minutes. (Alternatively you can cook on the stove for 10 minutes over medium heat in a covered saucepan.) Mash the pears into a coarse puree with a fork or wooden spoon. Let cool.
Put the almond meal and 1¾ cups of sugar in a food processor and give it 4 or 5 long pulses. Add the eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and the cooked pears and puree the mixture. Pour into the prepared pan.
In a small skillet, heat the agave or honey with the oil, stirring to mix until the mixture starts to bubble. Take off the heat and stir in the remaining ¼ teaspoon of vanilla. Add the pear slices and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle the sliced almonds over the top of the cake. Add the pear slices in a spoke configuration and spoon the agave or honey/oil mixture over the top of the cake.
Bake for 45 – 55 minutes (took much longer, but I used an 8 inch pan) or until the cake is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Check the cake after about 35 minutes, if it browning too much, place a piece of foil over the top.
Let the cake cool in the pan for about 30 minutes then remove the sides of the pan and transfer to a serving platter (removing the parchment is optional but recommended). The cake is best served slightly warm.