Saturday, 23 September 2017

Mocha-Pear Upside-Down Cake (gluten free, rice free, refined-sugar free) #FreeFromHarvest

It is officially Autumn and to celebrate, I have made a gluten free Pear and Mocha Upside-Down Cake, with local pears gifted by a friend from her garden. A perfect seasonal offering..... sweet, fruity and comforting.

Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year..... the beautiful, reddening, changing colours of the leaves on the trees,....... the musty, but slightly sweet smell of decaying foliage under the feet,...... the still, cold air on bright mornings, which alternate with contrasting damp mists and squally winds..... It is an exciting time for the senses..... all of them.

With Autumn comes an abundance of delights to light up the taste buds..... As the harvest speeds to its inevitable end and the rewards of the vegetable plot are picked, pickled, frozen, stored or simply scoffed with the joy that comes from just-picked sweetcorn, courgettes, tomatoes and more....

It is the Autumn fruit however, which brings the brightest smile..... Hedgerows woven together and decorated with dark, purple blackberries..... fruit trees heavy with apples, pears and peaches...... squirrels stealing and hiding cobnuts, chestnuts and walnuts for their winter stores....

The pears and apples this year are incredible in my part of the world..... Kent has truly earned its name as The Garden of England. I have been going for walks and literally grabbing flawless, curvy green fruit from over-hanging trees and munching fresh and firm. On almost every corner, people have left boxes of pears and apples with big signs saying 'please help yourself', such is the abundance in their yards. Free food doesn't get better than this and it would be wrong not to exploit every last shared offering.

Those of you who follow my Instagram posts will know that I used a stash of pears to make my favourite Brown-Sugared Pear and Ginger Preserve a couple of weeks back, which is just perfect with cheese. But part of the fun with a good harvest is trying to come up with creative ways to use up all the yummy fruit and veg that comes your way.

And so..... to Mocha-Pear Upside-Down Cake..... Intense, slightly bitter, coffee-infused chocolate sponge, sweetened with unrefined coconut palm sugar and maple syrup, baked over butter-softened pears, then flipped to show its best side. Delicious!

If you're stuck for free-from ideas, fear not.... between me and my free-from blogger friends we have a whole library of #FreeFromHarvest recipes to share with you this Autumn. Go check them out :

Free From Fairy : Sensational Sausage-Stuffed Marrow
The Intolerant Gourmand : GF DF Apple Crumble; Pumpkin Risotto
Easy Peasy Foodie : Peri Peri Chicken; Vegan Vegetable Korma
Mummy Tries : Three Tasty Beetroot Recipes
Julie's Family Kitchen : GF Almond, Pear & Chocolate Cake
Dairy Free Kids : Apple & Blackberry Crumble
The Adventures of an Allergy Mummy : Butternut Squash Soup with a Kick
Glutarama : Beetroot Brownie Cake
Paleo Crust : Roasted Squash & Ginger Soup
Peachicks Bakery : Pink Pickles
Free From Farmhouse : Pumpkin Pasta

Also to come, recipes from :
Nina : Eat Allergy Safe

I am also sharing my Mocha-Pear Upside-Down Cake with the following :

Simple & In Season with Feeding Boys

Baking Crumbs with Only Crumbs Remain

We Should Cocoa with Tin & Thyme

Cook Blog Share with Hijacked By Twins

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Other gluten free ideas on Gluten Free Alchemist to use your harvest :

Brown-Sugared Pear and Ginger Preserve
Heavenly Chocolate, Walnut & Pear Torte 
Sweet Autumn Dessert Yorkies with Vanilla Sautéed Pear & Walnuts and Blackberry Coulis
Pumpkin Toffee-Apple Cake
Mixed Berry & Apple Jam
Foraged Blackberry & Apple Oatie Crumble Slice
Apple & Blackberry Curd
Apple, Cinnamon & Mincemeat Cake
Chewy Apricot, Apple, Cinnamon & Maple Flapjacks
Courgette & Cherry Cupcakes
White Chocolate, Lavender & Blackberry Panna Cotta with Blackberry Poached Pears and Blackberry-Cassis Sauce
Autumnal Spiced Pumpkin & Walnut Cakes
Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin, Sultana & Chocolate Chip Cake
Chicken, Squash & Gruyere Quiche 
Roasted Pumpkin, Ramiro Pepper & Leek Soup
Baby Kale, Honey-Roast Butternut, Chicken, Parmesan & Pine Nut Salad
Courgette or Marrow with Rich, Dark Puy Lentil Stuffing
Spiralized Oriental Courgette-Noodle Soup
Butternut, Quinoa & Pine Nut Patties

Mocha-Pear Upside-Down Cake (makes 1 x 8 inch cake)


1½ tablespoons instant espresso coffee powder
140 ml boiling water
2 large firm pears - peeled and deseeded (sliced lengthways into 'half-moons')
a sprinkling of coconut palm sugar or brown sugar of choice
180g gluten free, rice-free flour blend (I used my GFA rice-free blend that you can find here. Or you can use an alternative rice free blend such as Free From Fairy (see side bar for link) or an alternative gluten free blend (with rice) such as my Blend A)
40g ground almonds
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon GF baking powder
30g cocoa powder
125g butter (or dairy free alternative) - softened
125g coconut palm sugar
50g maple syrup
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

mocha beans/icing sugar/grated dark chocolate to decorate (all optional)


  1. Base-line and 8 inch (20 cm) round, spring-form, non-stick cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  3. Dissolve the coffee powder in the boiling water and set aside to cool.
  4. Lightly butter the baking paper in the base of the cake tin and arrange the peeled, deseeded, sliced pears on top. Sprinkle with a little sugar.
  5. Dab a few small blobs of butter on the pear and place in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the pear is just browning and the butter and sugar are bubbling.
  6. Remove from the oven and turn the temperature down to 160 C/320 F/Gas 3.
  7. Weigh and mix together the flour, almonds, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt and cocoa, making sure all the ingredients are well blended and all lumps are broken down (I mix them in an airtight container and shake well). Set aside.
  8. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and maple syrup with an electric whisk until light and fluffy.
  9. Add the eggs (one at a time) and vanilla extract and beat thoroughly.
  10. Add the dry ingredients and cool coffee and fold until just combined.
  11. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin on top of the pears and smooth the batter so that the surface is even.
  12. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the cake is set and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 
  13. Remove from the oven and leave the cake for 10 to 15 minutes in the tin to cool slightly, before turning out onto a wire rack (upside-down, so that the pears are on the top).
  14. Sprinkle with grated chocolate/icing sugar/mocha beans to decorate.
  15. Enjoy on its own, warm or cold or with coconut cream, custard or ice cream.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated


  1. Your cake looks lovely - it is spring here and the berries are beckoning but I do love autumn and pears make for such pretty cakes

    1. Thanks Johanna. It's funny..... as the Autumn sets in every year here, I think about your end of the world warming up..... I so miss the summer months, but Autumn is a lovely compensation xx

  2. Oh Kate this looks delicious, after Lewis' birthday I'm all sweet treated out! Time for a good old cake with fruity goodness in it....perfect timing. Off to check I have all the ingredients xxx

    1. Thanks Rebecca. Fruit cakes are always a good 'less guilty' option! x

  3. I love the idea of people sharing their fruit harvest with complete strangers Kate - it's so lovely and a great way to make sure non of it goes to waste. I'm a huge fan of upsidedown cakes, and I love the fact that you've teamed mocha with pears - it sounds absolutely glorious! Thanksyou too for joining in with #BakingCrumbs :-)
    Angela x

    1. Thank you Angela. The fruit boxes have certainly brought a smile to my face. I think the trees were breaking under the weight this year!
      I too love upside down cakes.... they seem particularly lovely for very little effort. xx

  4. I have been given some pears by a neighbour in exchange for plums. Other than making a cake with it recently, I am still dithering what to do with the rest. The pear ginger preserve sounds good to me, but as I have recently made a marrow preserve some with ginger, i think i will give that a miss and this cake appeals, but there are only so many cakes I can eat - the the mocha addition.

    1. It is definitely that time of year where there is almost too much free food to use before it goes off, so it is lovely that people share.... at least that way you have more variety. Good luck using all your gifted pears. x

  5. Oh my word! This looks so fantastic. I adore upside down cakes and could demolish this in one sitting I reckon!

    1. Thank you Vicki. I think I came pretty close myself..... x

  6. As always Kate this looks amazing! I adore the flavour combination that you have used. Thank you for sharing with #CookBlogShare x

  7. What a fabulous looking cake with a fantastic crumb. Chocolate and pear is one of my fave pudding combos so I'm already sold!Beautiful!

    1. Thank you Jenny. I love that Upside-Down cakes are always so moist. Perfect with custard! x

  8. I think upside down cakes are really cool, and yours has the added advantage of having a great flavour combination - I absolutely love fruit with chocolate, plus there is coffee in it too so this is my ideal cake:)

    1. Thanks Monika. Me too! The coffee really changed the flavour dynamic, but worked so well with the pears xx

  9. Oh my pretty and what gorgeous photography. And that combo - wow! Pears with chocolate, yes...but I'm not sure I've ever paired pears with coffee, but it sounds delicious. Eb x

    1. Thank you Eb. I was a bit wobbly about the photos for this, so good so hear they are ok!
      Pears and coffee was not something I had tried before either, but it worked really well x

  10. This is a lovely cake and pears and chocolate are just perfect together!

  11. Such a beautifully written post Kate. It really conjures up the joys of autumn which comes a close second to spring as my favourite month. The apple harvest here in Hampshire seems to be epic too with similar help yourself boxes dotted around the place.

    I would never have thought to pair coffee with pairs, but it sounds like it's worth a try. Your cake certainly looks delicious. Thanks for sharing with #WeShouldCocoa.

    1. Thank you Choclette for your lovely comment. I think Autumn is one of those months that really teases the senses and is perfect for being a little creative with words.
      Coffee and pears seems to be a rather good combination (I had not tried it before either)!
      Hope you are settling well into your new Hampshire home x

  12. This is STUNNING - I can just imagine how good those flavours are together! Thanks so much for joining in with this month's round of Simple and in Season with such a lush bake :-)

    1. Thank you so much Katie. You are more than welcome x

  13. What a gorgeous cake, and perfect for Autumn too


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