Who said a vegan and gluten-free cake cannot be beautiful and flavoursome at the same time? True, if you come from a Victoria sponge cake-like mentality, like me, picturing something which doesn’t include flour, butter and eggs and expecting it to deliver on different levels might be a bit of a stretch, but believe me, this cake does it. I was a bit skeptical at first, mostly because I tend to find gluten-free cakes are slightly crumblier than their traditional counterparts. Needless to say, it is the gluten which keeps them together and lends softness and the traditional spongy structure to the cake. Once you remove that, your cake might end up being slightly on the crumblier and drier side.
Or so I thought. Using nuts in the sponge is a perfect way to counteract the lack of eggs and butter. Nuts are rich in natural oils and they add extra depth of flavour, which clearly gives you an advantage straight away. As for the pears on top, I would suggest going for a pink or more colourful variety, but simply because I like my food to be very colourful and I feel this cake can be perceived and very autumnal with its brown shades. Even so, it’s delicious, so I very much suggest you give it a try.
Ingredients (for the cake)
- 100g pecan nuts
- 200g gluten free plain flour
- 115g granulated sugar
- 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 200ml gluten-free soya milk
- 75ml rapeseed oil
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Ingredients (for the topping)
- 2 unwaxed pears, halved, cored and sliced
- 25g caster sugar
- juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
- 25g vegan and gluten-free margarine
- 25g pecan nut halves
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 23cm round, springform cake tin with gluten-free and vegan margarine.
- Divide the 100g pecan nuts in two equal portions. Chop one portion very finely (no need to use a food processor for this) and put them in the prepared cake tin, then tip it so that the chopped nuts stick to the greased base and sides of the tin. Tip any spare nuts out into a bowl.
- Put the flour, sugar and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and stir together. Chop the remaining pecans roughly and stir them into the dry ingredients alongside any of the leftover finely chopped pecans.
- Put the soya milk into a measuring jug and add the oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and quickly mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin completely before turning it out.
- To make the topping, place the pears in the bottom of a large baking dish. Sprinkle with the sugar and lemon juice, then dot with margarine. Bake for 30 minutes at the same temperature as before (ensure you have left your oven on), basting every 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.
- Decorate the cake by overlapping the pear slices in a circle around the edge and then fill the gap in the centre with the pecan halves. Enjoy!