Treats are treats. Meant for special occasions. Keep them there: Upside-down Pear Cake

Treats are treats. Meant for special occasions. Keep them there.   upside-down-pear-cake4

Recently it was my mom’s birthday. And in my family, birthdays mean cake. Yes I am a nutritionist. And yes I eat cake. On the birthday of my family and close friends. On anniversaries. And Christmas day. Whilst I believe any occasion can be improved with celery and carrot sticks served with home-made hummus, special occasions call for cake. Cake that not only hit the indulgent spot, but don’t have any guilt associated with it. And that does not mean getting rid of flavour and taste and texture, it just means being a bit more creative nutrition-wise when creating/reformulating a recipe.

Treats that are meant for special occasions. That make special occasions special.

And this cake is ideal for that. I literally winged this recipe.
Made from scratch as I went. I didn’t write it down, just went based on instinct, taste and what the food scientist in me knew it should look like.
But then my family were quite taken aback at how amazing this cake tasted. I admit I was stunned myself too. So while the rest of the party savored their cake, I madly wrote a note to myself on my iPhone while I still remembered what I did…! And here it is. The Anneline version of upside-down cake :-).


upside-down-pear-cake2To add fibre, I used stoneground wholemeal flour. Less processed, full of wholesome wholegrain goodness.
Fat is essential in any cake. Fat carries and enhances flavour. It’s a binder. It helps with the gluten breakdown and construction of the cake matrix. But not all fats the best in terms of health outcomes.Rice bran oil is a great source of monounsaturated fats – health fats, doesn’t have any strong overpowering flavours and a stable smoking point. And while rice bran oil is considered a good fat, there are still 37kJ of energy in this healthy fat as there are in margarines, lard or butter. The difference is the type of fat – monounsaturated healthy fats vs trans fatty acids, saturated fats etc. that are associated with atherosclerosis and cardiovascular dysfunction.
I used a low fat natural Greek yogurt and reduced fat milk – thereby decreasing the fat content and calories without losing the functional properties of dairy protein.
And honey – a natural sweetner that has the same calories as sugar but is metabolised slower in the body resulting in slower blood glucose release (i.e. low glycaemic load).
Pears have a low glycaemic index and are a great source of phenolic acids (esp. chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid and caffeic acid) which are known to demonstrate antioxidant, antimutagenic and anti-carcinogenic activity. I’m not saying that eating pears will prevent you from developing cancer, but pears as with other fruits and veggies should be a major part of your daily diet.
Cinnamon not only makes everything taste drool-worthy, but do two things nutritionally: 1) cinnamon enhances the sweetness of sweetener – so instead of the ideal 1 cup of sweetener, I only need 2/3 cup; and 2) cinnamon slows down the metabolism of glucose as well. My aim with cake is to maintain the “specialness”, deliciousness, tip-toe-through-the-house-in-the-middle-of-the-night-to-sneek-a-piece-yumminess whilst enhancing the nutritional profile.

Yes this is a cake. And yes it still is a treat. And yes it is still meant for a special occasion. But now you can eat your cake and enjoy it. Without thinking about the high crappy refined white-flour, high crappy refined sugar and high crappy fat content.

This cake can also be done with juicy, fleshy stone fruits.


1 ¼ cups plain flour
1 ¼ cups wholemeal flour
6 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 cup diced fresh pear
4 egg yolks
1 cup rice bran oil
2/3 cup honey
¾ cup natural no fat yoghurt
1 cup milk
4 egg whites
4 juicy pears, thickly sliced


  1. Sift together flours, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger powder.
  2. Add 1 cup diced fresh pear to the flour mix.
  3. Cream together margarine and sugar until pale and creamy. Add 1 egg yolk at a time and cream well.
  4. Add the yoghurt to egg yolk mix in stages. Beat on medium speed between each stage until incorporated.
  5. Add milk and beat well. Add flour mix to the egg yolk mixture. Beat gently til incorporated. Do not over-beat.
  6. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  7. Gently fold in egg whites in stages.
  8. In a lined and greased 24cm springform tin, sprinkle a small amount of cinnamon and ginger powder on the base.
  9. Place pears overlapping on the base of the tin.
  10. Pour batter over the pears.
  11. Bake at 160 deg C for 40-50mins until cooked.
  12. Allow to cool in the tin for about 30mins before turning out.
  13. Serve warm. Or not. Either way it’s really good! Maybe with a drizzle of homemade custard. Or a dollop of vanilla bean infused yogurt. Or just as… you’re bound to enjoy J.

Oh and one last thing. A treat is a treat. You’re not meant to eat the whole cake. Or ¾ or half… we got 14 decent slices out of this cake. By sharing the love, you share the calories as well. A cake’s a treat. Keep it that way.


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