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Upside-down Pear Crumble Cake (Dairy & Gluten Free)

I wanted to make a fruit crumble cake given the season, the need for stodge but in an autumnal way, though I find with upright crumble cakes either the fruit can sink or the crumble can catch and either way they sometimes end up more like a pudding or the sponge is just a bit on the dry side, and so I decided to try something that I didn't think would work, I baked the cake upside down. I have to admit I expected the crumble to be mush when I first tried this but I was very surprised with how it turned out, not only was it still crumbly but it also held its shape. I decided to tweak my base recipe for gluten-free cakes so I could have a cake that was not only suitable for those who wanted to avoid gluten but also dairy. I opted to go with pear because I think it's a neglected fruit (relatable) and because it's available tinned, so you don't have to worry about ripeness. The crumble is slightly sweet and oaty, and the cake is spiced and moist.

If you would prefer or don't want too use gluten-free oats, as know not everyone can still tolerate them, I would suggest using some chopped almond flakes. They will give a bit more crunch but that's the key here.

Serves 10-12

Hands-on Time 30 minutes (plus cooling)

Baking Time 50 minutes


250g Ground almonds

50g Cornflour

2 tsp Mixed spice

50g plus extra for greasing Margarine (or other dairy-free spread)

20g plus 1 tbsp Demerara sugar

35g Oats (gluten-free)

Tin of Pear halves in fruit juice, large (approx. 430g undrained)

65g Soft light brown sugar

50g Caster sugar

3 Eggs, medium

1 tsp Ground cardamom

Fine salt, couple of pinches


Small bowl



Baking parchment

20cm Fixed or push bottom cake tin

Kitchen paper


2 Mixing bowls

Electric whisk


Serving plate

Add 125 grams of ground almonds, 35 grams of cornflour, and 1 teaspoon of mixed spice to a small bowl and combine using a fork.

Dollop small amounts of the margarine over the ground almonds and mix using the fork, breaking up large lumps, until you have a crumb.

Add 20 grams of demerara sugar and the oats to the crumb and stir using the fork until evenly distributed. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C(Fan)/325°F/Gas mark 3.

Cut a piece of baking parchment into a circle for the base of the cake tin.

Grease the tin with margarine and line with the parchment.

Drain the pear halves. Drink the juice, don’t waste it!

Pat the slices dry using kitchen paper and reserve 2 pear halves.

Chop the remaining pear halves up into small pieces.

Separate the eggs between the two mixing bowls.

Add the chopped pear and the soft light brown sugar to the egg yolks. Beat with an electric whisk on a low speed at first to minimise splatter before speeding up to a high speed for at least a minute.

Clean and dry the beaters.

Whisk the egg whites until you have a foam. Keep whisking and gradually add the caster sugar until you have stiff peaks.

Add the remaining 125 grams of ground almonds, 15 grams of cornflour, teaspoon of mixed spice, ground cardamom, and a pinch of salt to the beaten egg yolks and combine using a spatula.

Add a scoop of the egg whites to the mix and beat to loosen it up. Add half of the egg whites and fold into the mixture. Add the remaining eggs whites, folding again until there are no specks.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of demerara sugar over the bottom of the lined tin followed by half of the crumble.

Take the reserved pear halves and thinly slice them. Fan the slices over the top of the crumble before covering with the remaining crumble.

Pour the mixture over the crumble.

Give the tin a tap on the worktop before placing on a middle shelf in the oven and leaving to bake for 50 minutes.

Remove the tin from the oven and leave the cake to sit for 15 minutes.

When the time is up carefully turn the cake out onto a serving plate and remove the baking parchment and turn pineapple-side up. You may need to run a palette knife around the edge of the cake to loosen the sides.

Leave the cake to completely cool.



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