A flourless pear and almond cake is perfect if you’re loyal to your waistline but are loathe to give up on dessert. This one is a light, healthy and easy flourless cake recipe for your collection. Pears are in season and their blushing charms are hard to resist. For the cake, I make sure to choose ripe but slightly firm fruit that can be baked without getting mushy.
Gluten-free flourless cake recipes can sometimes have an exhaustive list of ingredients with some being hard to find in your local supermarket. This flourless pear and almond cake, thankfully, doesn’t fall in that category. It needs very few, basic ingredients, most of which you probably already have at home. The pears may be the only thing you need to pick up fresh. Since the cake does not have flour, almonds form the base. Almond meal (which you can make at home by whizzing up chopped almonds in your food processor) or almond flour ( a finer version of almond meal that you can easily buy from your supermarket), both work equally well. I don’t even bother to blanch and peel the almonds before powdering them but if you’d rather have white almond flour, go ahead and remove the skin before powdering them or buy peeled almonds or even simpler, buy a bag of ready made almond flour.
Since almonds are rich in natural oils, ensure that they’re fresh; stale, improperly stored almonds and flour can turn rancid very quickly. You’ll notice that many almond cake recipes have a small amount of regular flour, but this one has none, so the crumb is soft, think baked pudding – firm yet fork tender. For a more crumbly, ‘cakey’ texture, substitute a tiny amount of the almond meal with whole wheat flour. It will still be an almost flourless pear and almond cake.
Other than the almonds, fresh eggs, a small amount of caster sugar, butter and of course, fresh, just-ripe pears are all that you need to turn out a really nice cake. The recipe may read like a very basic one, but trust me it will not disappoint. Sometimes, I find simple baking recipes refreshingly delicious and undemanding; like a basic pasta with homemade tomato sauce – a few ingredients producing a tasty result. These kind of recipes are nicer to do nowadays when we are overwhelmed by a gastronomic tsunami of exotic produce, ingredients, cuisines and dishes.
One generous slice of a flourless pear and almond cake such as this accompanied by a cup of steaming coffee makes a delightful breakfast. A scoop of vanilla ice cream would transform it into a delectable dinner party dessert. I was a little naughty and added a good splash of brandy to the batter. The deep, warm notes of the amber brandy took it to another level by beautifully complementing the natural sweetness of the pear. I seriously suggest you try it.
- 170 g almond meal / flour
- 70 g butter at room temperature
- 3 eggs separated
- 60 g caster sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp brandy (optional)
- 2 large ripe pears peeled and cut from top to bottom in quarters (you’ll get 4 wedges from each fruit)
- Line a 9-inch cake tin with a removable bottom, with parchment and lightly grease the sides.
- Preheat the oven to 180℃.
- Cream the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon till light and fluffy (about 2 mins).
- Mix in the vanilla extract and brandy (if using) and whisk in 1 yolk at a time to get a thick mixture.
- Stir the salt into the almond flour and add the flour to the wet batter. Mix well.
- In a separate, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until you get soft peaks. The whites should not be over-whisked lest they become dry.
- Gentle fold in the egg whites in 3 batches so that the batter retains its volume.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin and arrange the pear wedges in a circle, cut side facing down. Ensure that the space between the fruit wedges is evenly distributed.
- Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is nicely browned and yields a clean toothpick when tested.
- Cool the cake in the tin for 15 minutes before gently transferring it to a rack to cool.