Last week we talked about creating your perfect plant-based plate, which if you missed you can read up on here. This week I wanted to take a short interlude and share with you this delicious Pear and Ginger Cake recipe. Because if you’re eating a healthy plant-based wholefoods diet 95% of the time, then you can certainly have your cake and eat it too!
With all my recipes I love to encourage you to sneak in either fruits or vegetables at every opportunity. Whether it’s zucchini in my Zucchini, Herb & Chickpea Fritters, carrots in my Healthy Carrot Cake, goji berries in my Chewy Choc Goji Crunch, green beans in my Pesto Potato Salad, or pears in this lovely moist Pear and Ginger Cake. In fact for me, cooking is all about the fruit and vege taking centre stage, with everything else just working to elevate and flavour these lovely little bits of earth-grown nourishment.
And so this cake includes pear, ginger and dates, as well as almonds, wholemeal spelt flour, vanilla extract, and some coconut cream to hold it all together. I’ve used spelt for my flour in this cake, as it’s one of my favourites to bake with. It has a lovely flavour, holds things together nicely so they don’t end up in a crumbly mess, and gives you a similar texture to what you might find with regular white wheat flour. It’s therefore the perfect substitute for altering your own favourite family recipes.
Mixing Up Your Flours
I highly recommend you getting a bit more adventurous in the flours you use at home. When I grew up I did lots of baking (namely scones, cookies, banana cakes – the classics), but always using regular white wheat flour. Which gives you a lovely soft and fluffy result and great taste, but it’s a good idea to mix things up sometimes and incorporate some other wholefoods flours in your life. I love spelt for cakes, but some others I recommend you getting in your pantry include:
- Wholemeal Spelt Flour – lovely texture and taste, good substitute for regular white wheat flour, great in cakes and cookies, binds nicely, is unrefined, and contains much lower levels of gluten than regular white wheat flour.
- Buckwheat Flour (GF) – a lovely nutty taste, good option for gluten free baking, reasonable binding capacity. Does give out denser baked goods than spelt – I recommend blending it with brown rice flour, oat flour and cornflour to give a better result for wheat free baking, or for fully gluten free, swap the oat for extra buckwheat and brown rice.
- Brown Rice Flour (GF) – really nice mild flavour, not overpowering. Again gives denser results than wheat or spelt flour so good to use in a combo with buckwheat, oat and cornflour.
- Oat Flour – great nutritional value, nice creamy flavour. Doesn’t bind at all though so definitely need to use with another flour (eg buckwheat or brown rice). Note oats contain a type of gluten called avenin, but for most people it doesn’t cause damage to the intestinal cells – check with your doctor if you are coeliac before using. It is however naturally wheat free.
- Corn Flour (GF) – good to add a small amount of this when using a gluten free buckwheat, brown rice, oat flour combo, as helps to bind and also give a lighter baking result.
- Besan/Chickpea Flour (GF) – my other all time favourite – definitely not for baked goods, but great for savoury recipes as a binder – I use it to make fritters (try my Spiced Cauliflower Fritters, or Zucchini, Herb and Chickpea Fritters), to make vegetable burger patties, or to make omelettes or savoury pancakes without eggs. Absorbs a lot of water when it cooks so make sure you add enough water. Is my favourite egg alternative in savoury recipes, it’s amazing!
All of these amazing flours are available to order from our online store here if you’d like to try them out. They’re all really reasonably priced so definitely worth having a few stashed in the pantry for those last minute Sunday baking episodes!
All of the above flours are ones that I love and use on a regular basis in my plant-based kitchen. In terms of baking, I personally love wholemeal spelt as it definitely gives the best classic flavour and light texture, but if you would like a wheat free option, then my top recommendation is a blend of buckwheat, brown rice, oat and cornflour. For every cup of spelt, swap it with 1/3 cup of buckwheat, 1/3 cup brown rice, 1/4 cup oat and 1 1/2 tbsp cornflour. For a completely gluten free version, simply substitute the oats for a further 2 tbsp of brown rice and 2 tbsp buckwheat. In this delicious Pear and Ginger Cake I’ve tried all three versions and they all taste great, the gluten and wheat free versions just turn out a bit denser and crumblier, with an earthier flavour.
I hope you’ll try this easy as cake. I do love making desserts and sweet treats like this, where you can spend an hour one night, then have a delicious treat for those post-dinner relaxation moments the rest of your week. This lovely little cake will last for three days in an air tight container, or you can slice it up and store the individual slices in the freezer for later. It tastes best with a generous dollop of something creamy on the side – whipped coconut cream, coconut yoghurt, or my Coconut Cashew Chia Cream and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (my favourites!).
If you try it out I’d love to see your results on Instagram; just tag me @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics so I can come and admire your masterpiece!
That’s it from me for this week. Have a great week ahead and I hope you enjoy some cakey goodness some where along the way.
Please note – if you are wanting to meet any of the specific dietary requirements below, please read my recipe notes.
- 2 c wholemeal spelt flour
- 1/2 c almonds
- 5 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 400 ml coconut cream
- 1/3 c coconut nectar
- 1/3 c coconut oil melted
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 c dates chopped
- 4 pears
- Top with desiccated coconut and chopped almonds if desired
- Preheat oven to 175 °C fan bake, and grease the sides and base of a 24 cm cake tin (I use this macadamia oil).
- Slice one of your pears thinly and arrange it in the base of the tin, then chop the remaining pears into 1cm chunks and set aside.
- Grind almonds in a blender to a flour, pour into a large bowl, then sift remaining dry ingredients on top and stir to combine.
- Blend wet ingredients in the blender until frothy, then pour onto dry ingredients and gently stir until just combined with a few flour flecks remaining.
- Fold through pears and dates gently until just combined (don’t over mix so your cake stays nice and fluffy), then spoon dollops of the mixture into the tin taking care not to disturb your pear arrangement. Spread the top out flat with a spatula.
- Bake for 35 minutes until the top springs back when touched and a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn upside down onto a wire rack and carefully remove the base. Leave to cool before slicing (especially if using the GF flour mix – it binds on cooling).
- Sprinkled with desiccated coconut and chopped almonds if desired, then slice and enjoy with a generous dollop of coconut cream, coconut yoghurt or my Coconut Cashew Chia Cream or Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (my favourites!).
- Make it wheat free: replace the spelt flour with 2/3 c buckwheat flour, 2/3 c brown rice flour, 1/2 c oat flour and 3 tbsp cornflour. You can also just use straight buckwheat flour (if you only want to pull out one flour container!), but I definitely prefer the taste and texture of the mixed flour blend. To make your own buckwheat flour, simply blend buckwheat in a food processor until fine. For a fully gluten free option, swap out the oats for an extra 2 tbsp buckwheat and 2 tbsp brown rice.
- Make it nut free: use sunflower or watermelon seeds instead of almonds.
- If you don’t have fresh ginger, ginger powder will also work great.