For someone who is not gluten intolerant I seem to do a lot of gluten-free cooking and baking. One reason is that Indian food, which is what I'm cooking around here 99% of the time, is a very easy cuisine for gluten free people to eat (not to mention vegans and vegetarians) without any change in recipes. I also happen to have a lot of friends who are either themselves celiacs, or who have kids with gluten intolerance. Since we do a lot of entertaining at our house it's always easier to kill two birds with one gluten-free stone. Rather than making two desserts, one with and one without, I love to make one dessert that no matter what one's dietary requirement, every diner can enjoy. That means making desserts gluten-free.
One of my favorite food guinea pig is one of our closest friends The Notorious Mr X.
Every year without fail, he seems to receive a box of Harry and David Pears. Sometimes he's in Kerala when they arrive, sending us photos while the pears moulder on his doorstep.
This year he was at home, and so he delivered a box of lovely pears to me with a request that I whip something up with them.
The pears arrived just in time for a movie night at our house. Several of the guests are gluten intolerant and so I wanted to use them to make a holiday dessert. I wanted something gluten free but I didn't want to use one of my recipes. I was looking for something I'd never made before. So of course I went googling to USA Pears which is sort of the mother of all pear websites. I discovered that December is national Pear Month (who knew). I also discovered this amazing Gluten Free Pear and Almond Cake recipe courtesy of Carol Kicinski of Simply Gluten Free.
One look at this, and I couldn't resist. I seemed to be the perfect dessert for our after the movie chai, and boy was it. It was also very simple to prepare which is a must for a weeknight. All you need are 4 pears and you're good to go.
Gluten Free Pear and Almond Cake
Here's What You Need:
4 pears. Ripe, but not too ripe. Keep things on the firm side.
1 and 3/4 cup of sugar plus 2 tsp of sugar
1 Tbs lemon juice
3 and 1/4 cups Almond meal (almond flour)
8 eggs, at room temperature
1 and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs neutral flavored oil, (grapeseed, canola)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Here's What To Do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a baking rack in the dead center of the oven
Lightly grease a 9 or 10 inch springform pan.
Place a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan.
Lightly grease the parchment paper also.
In a food processor or stand mixer, mix together 3 and 1/4 cup of almond meal 1 and 3/4 cup of sugar.
Blend the almond meal and the sugar together lightly using your paddle attachment.
Set it aside.
Peel and core the pears.
Take 3 of the pears and chunk them up roughly. Set the fourth pear aside.
Take the chunked up pears and put them in a small saucepan. Add in 2 Tsp of sugar.
And 1 Tbs of lemon juice.
Cover the pan of pears and cook them at medium heat for about 10 minutes or until they are soft.
Mash the pears to a coarse puree and set them aside to cool a bit.
Meanwhile, back at the sugar almond meal mixture in your food processor or stand mixer....
Add in the eggs one at a time.
Blend each of the eggs in well.
Once the pears have cooled enough, add the pear puree to the eggs and flour and sugar.
Add in 1 tsp of vanilla extract.
When all the batter is mixed together, pour it into the prepared spring form pan.
Set it aside.
Take the fourth pear and slice it into 1/4 inch wide pieces.
In a small skillet heat the oil and the honey.
When they're warm and blended together add in the sliced pears.
Turn the pears over a few times in the honey oil mixture to coat them.
Take the pan off the heat and stir in 1/2 tsp of vanilla.
Make sure the pears are well coated.
Sprinkle the 1/2 cup of sliced almonds over the top of the cake.
Arrange the warmed pear slices in a pinwheel shape on top of the cake.
Drizzle the juices in the bottom of the skillet over the top of the cake and the pear slices.
Pop the cake on a rack placed in the middle of the oven. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes (depending on your oven).
Check your cake after 35 minutes and if you find it's getting too brown on top. You can put a bit of foil over it. I didn't need to do this.
When a toothpick is inserted in the center of the cake and comes out clean, it's done.
Put the cake pan on a cooling rack and let the cake rest for about 30 minutes in the spring form pan. After that you can remove the sides of the pan and put the cake on a serving plate.
You can remove the parchment paper before serving just in case some guest might get carried away. After all we're not goats.
Cut it up and enjoy.
There it is, a cake that every gluten free guest can enjoy, and any non celiacs will never miss the gluten. It's definitely going into my permanent file.
Coming up next, I'm cooking Christmas dinner and going old school Italian. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori