Saturday Special: Low Sugar Almond Pear Upside Down Cake

A clunky title for a clunky cake. I’m kidding, it’s not a clunky cake – yummy, almond-y and surprisingly sweet (due to the delicious pears) would be a better way of describing it.

I spend a great deal of time on Pinterest looking at health-related topics, and did something that I reckon at least 80% of Pinners don’t ever do – I went back over my boards. Yes, I looked at the things I’d already pinned instead of allowing them to just sit there, waiting for their advice to be taken.  I found an info-graphic about healthy substitutions in baking, one of which was replacing some of the sugar in the recipe with pure vanilla extract.  According to the guide, replacing 2 tablespoons of sugar with 1/2 a teaspoon can cut 400 calories from a recipe, and it got me thinking; how many times could you use this technique in a recipe? Because let’s face it, 2 tablespoons equal roughly an ounce, and I’ve never made a cake with just one ounce of anything! I wondered if you could make a cake with no sugar at all – not talking about replacing the sugar with things like Splenda or Stevia, but just taking sugar out of the equation.

Honestly? You need the sugar. Not as much, mind. The key is being smart about what else you include in the recipe; by using fruit, you get the natural flavours and sweetness from the juices, and it really makes a difference!  My recipe, which serves up 10 slices at 197 calories each, is tasty without all the sugar.  Check out my recipe below for an idea of how to get started….

I couldn't get a picture of the whole cake because it went so quickly!

I couldn’t get a picture of the whole cake because it went so quickly!

What you’ll need:

6oz self raising flour

2 tbsps caster sugar

A pinch of salt.

6oz unsalted butter (you can use light options too)

2 – 3 eggs

2 – 4 tbsps milk (approximately)

2 tbsps almond extract

1lb pears (I used Bosc, they are great for desserts), peeled and chopped

1 tbsp brown sugar

To make the cake:

1.  Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/375 degrees. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and add the caster sugar.

2. Add the butter, and mix together.

3. Crack the eggs in one at a time and stir thoroughly.

4. You might find the mixture is a little bit too thick at this stage, so add a little milk between each egg (use your judgement) until you get a nice consistency.

5. Add in the almond essence – 2 tablespoons might seem like more than you would usually put into a pan this size, but we’re compensating for the lack of sugar here. Set the mixture to one side for a moment.

6. Line a round 9 inch baking tin with grease-proof paper.  Sprinkle the brown sugar over the bottom of the pan.

7. Take the slices of pear and arrange them across the pan.  Now, roll each piece of pear over in place so that it gets covered in the brown sugar on both sides and ends up the same way up as it as when you put it in the pan. You can make a pattern if you want, because you’ll be turning the cake over once it is done – therefore the pears will be on top!

8. Carefully pour in the cake mix.

– I sprinkled a little bit of brown sugar over the top of the mix just before putting it in the over, but that’s totally optional –

9. Bake in the over for approximately 35-40 minutes.

10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning the cake out onto a plate or wire rack (you might have more like with a plate, as my cake was very moist and a little bit of it fell apart.

And that’s it!  Go forth and eat cake….

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