Lemon, Pear and Almond Cake, Grain and Sugar Free

We enjoyed our gluten free pear and almond upside down cake so much, that I decided to create a recipe for grain and sugar free version of this cake. I also wanted to make the flavour of the cake more intense, compared to pear and almond cake, based on apple or pear puree as one the ingredients. I decide to include the whole lemon, cooked and pureed with skin.

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Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 200g honey
  • 100g cooked whole lemon puree
  • 100g cooked peeled pear puree
  • 200g almond meal
  • 50g poppy seeds
  • 1 large or 2 medium pears, cored and sliced
  • unsalted butter for baking pan
  • 2 table spoons almond meal for baking pan

for caramel sauce

  • 1 tea spoon honey
  • 1 table spoon unsalted butter
  • 1 table spoon lemon juice

Preparation:

  • wash lemon and cook it in boiling water until soft; depending on lemon type, freshness and size, it might take from 15 to 45 min
  • cut lemon in quarters; there will be plenty of liquid, strain lemon quarters, leave the juices to use later for another dish
  • cool lemon quarters and process them into smooth puree

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  • peel, core and chop pear in 1cm cubes
  • cook pear cubes in microwave on high for 7-10min, until completely soft
  • puree cooked pear, if puree is runny, dehydrate it in microwave for another 5-7min

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  • weigh 100g of lemon puree and mix it with 100g of pear puree
  • it is a good idea to make several portions of mixed puree, which can be frozen and used later for another cake

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  • butter square baking pan
  • cut piece of baking paper to exact fit for the pan bottom
  • place baking paper into the pan, it will be attached to butter
  • dust sides of the pan with almond meal

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  • to make caramel sauce melt butter and mix it well with lemon juice and honey

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  • pour caramel sauce into baking pan

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  •  arrange pear slices on the bottom of the pan

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  • beat whole eggs with honey on high for 10 min, using hand held or benchtop mixer, until double the size and pale

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  • add mixed lemon and pear puree and mix on medium for 2-3 min
  • I usually pour the batter from a high bowl to a wide bowl, to make it easier to fold in almond meal

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  • sift almond meal and fold it into batter using spatula
  • add poppy seeds and fold them in

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  • pour batter over sliced pears

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  • gently shake baking pan to level the batter
  • bake in preheated to 170C regular oven (no fan) on middle level, until the surface of the cake becomes golden brown and firm to the touch in the middle, and sides of the cake have separated from the baking tin
  • let the cake rest inside the tin for 7-10 min, check that side crust is separated from the tin; use thin spatula, if separation did not occur over all perimeter of the cake
  • place serving board over the baking tin and turn the cake over

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  • it is a good idea to put baking paper on the serving board; this will allow to move the cake easily and, if needed, to transfer it to flat serving platter, take baking paper out and have the cake safely transferred to any glass, ceramic or porcelain surface
  • while the cake is still warm any glaze can be carefully brushed over pears to make the top of the cake more shiny

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This upside down cake can be baked in the round tin, where  pear slices completely cover the bottom of the pan. The advantage of using round tin is cake’s neater look, without any batter coming through pear layer. Round shape would not create any problems in slicing the cake, because pears on top are very soft. We did not taste this cake ourselves, so I can’t give you full report on its taste.

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The feedback I had that it was a very nice cake. The desired intensity of the flavour was not there and the cake was still not as punchy as orange and almond cake. Based on my experience with the same batch of lemon puree, I used to make just gluten free lemon and apple cake, I share this view. I made another gluten free cake, based on pure lemon puree to finally get desired intensity of lemon flavour. I was very disappointed with the result. This time it was too intense and very acidic. To be frank the cake was not very enjoyable. I realised, that puree, made from the lemons even from the same tree, can have quite different acidity and taste. It depends not only on type and size of lemons used, but whether used lemons were fresh picked, or were stored for several days. Freshness of prepared puree itself had an influence on the final result, too. Lemon puree, stored for 2-3 days in the fridge, became more mellow in taste, and lost some of its bitterness and acidity. The obvious practical conclusion is to taste lemon puree before using it, and decide if is it necessary to dilute lemon puree with very mild tasted pear puree.

Having used honey for several cakes, I came to the conclusion, that baking with honey is not 100% the same every time. Different brands, or even different batches of honey, vary in sweetness. It is another reason, why balancing acidity from fruit purees and sweetness from honey, it might be necessary to check the taste of the batter, before adding dry ingredients, as we do with seasoning in savoury dishes.

Happy experimenting!!!

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