Pear & Polenta Upside Down Cake

Snacks & Treats
1 hour 45 mins 
Serves 12 
Vegetarian 
Dairy free 
Nut free 
I am not much of a baker, but every now and again I do love to make a cake. But of course I want it to be a healthier version! I'm currently working with Australian Pears on helping communicate the nutrition science behind this fabulous, humble fruit. And so, I got into the kitchen and thought I'd create some recipes too. 

This cake is delicious. I used extra virgin olive oil as my healthy fat, reduced the sugar compared to usual cakes and boosted sweetness naturally with pureed pears with verjuice, and used a wholemeal spelt flour. Polenta is also wholegrain and combined with the pears - one of the highest fibre fruits - this is a gut loving cake!

Panela is evaporated cane juice and it is touted as a healthier sugar due to it being less refined. This is really splitting hairs to be honest, but I do like its caramel flavour. The stronger taste, compared to refined white sugar, means you can use less. 

One confusion over pears is knowing when they ripe. Check out the Australian Pears website for more info, but essentially you just need to gently press the flesh near the stem. If it gives a little the pear is ready to enjoy. I used my more ripe pears in the puree of this recipe - that's a great way of using up any past their best for straight eating.  

For those following Get Lean, while this is a healthier cake the kilojoules are still significant. Enjoy a small slice as a weekend treat.
PER SERVE: Energy 1795kJ; Protein 7g; Total Fat 21g (saturated fat <4g, polyunsaturated fat <3g, monounsaturated fat 14g); Carbohydrate 50g; Fibre 6g

INGREDIENTS

4 pears, cored & sliced (skin on) PLUS 2 very ripe pears
150ml verjuice
4 large eggs
1 cup panela (or you could use brown sugar or coconut sugar)
300g wholemeal spelt flour (white flour admittedly does give you a lighter cake)
3 tsp baking powder
140g polenta
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup cacao nibs

METHOD

Step 1

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Brush a 22cm (9 inch) spring bottomed cake tin with extra virgin olive oil. If you rtin is not non-stick line with baking paper.

Step 2

Sprinkle the bottom of the tin with panela. Then layer the sliced pears in a circular pattern in the tin.

Step 3

Beat the eggs with the panela for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile puree the 2 ripe pears with the verjuice. Add this to the egg mixture along with the extra virgin olive oil. With the beater moving slowly, add the flour, baking powder, polenta and cacao nibs. Beat gently until combined.

Step 4

Pour the mixture over the pears in the tin and bake for 30 minutes. Cover with foil to stop the top from burning and bake for a further 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to rest in the tin for a final 30 minutes.

Step 5

Remove the tin leaving the base in place. Invert the cake onto your serving plate so that the sliced caramelised pears are on the top. The cake will still be warm and is best served immediately with a dollop of Greek yoghurt or custard. But it's also good served at room temperature and will last for several days in an airtight container.