Pear, honey and walnut upside-down cake

Nourishing teff and brown rice flours with Palmyra nectar prove to be a winning combination in this pear upside-down cake, brimming with goodness and scrumptiousness.

Pear, honey and walnut upside-down cake. Image credit - Lisa Linder Image credit: Lisa Linder

Fragrant local honey and sweet pear juices seep into the light walnut sponge, making it satisfyingly soft. This is one of my favourite autumn-winter bakes.

Clean Cakes

This recipe is from Clean Cakes by Henrietta Inman, Jacqui Small LLP. The ultimate cookbook for anyone who wants to eliminate gluten, dairy or refined sugar from their diet, while still satisfying their sweet tooth and creating their own nutritious, guilt-free masterpieces. If you love this project you can get the book from our online shop WITH an automatic 10% off just for being you, PLUS free UK P+P!  


Quince, honey and walnut upside-down cake

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  • Follow the recipe below, replacing the pears with three medium quinces, peeled, cored and quartered and cut into ½ cm (⅕ inch) slices.

Spiced pineapple upside-down cake

  • Follow the recipe below, replacing the pears with about three-quarters of a pineapple and the walnuts with the same amount of pecan nuts.
  • Add 5 g (⅕ oz/1 tbsp) finely chopped fresh ginger and half a finely chopped small red chilli to the honey in the base of the tin.
  • Peel the pineapple and slice into six 1.5 cm (½ inch) rings, removing the hard centres.
  • Add 10 g (⅓ oz/2 tbsp) more finely chopped ginger and the finely grated zest of 1 lime to the cake mix.
  • Cover the honey, ginger and chilli mixture with the pineapple, top with the ginger and lime cake mix and bake as below. 


  • 70 g (2½ oz/⅔ cup) walnuts, preferably activated dried
  • 180 g (6¼ oz/generous ½ cup) raw honey
  • 4–5 medium to large pears (about 800 g (1 lb 12 oz))
  • 120 g (4¼ oz/generous ½ cup) non-hydrogenated dairy-free butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 80 g (2¾ oz/½ cup) Palmyra nectar powder
  • 80 g (2¾ oz/⅓ cup) easy apple purée
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 60 g (2 oz/⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp) brown rice flour
  • 60 g (2 oz/⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp) teff flour
  • 20 g (¾ oz/2½ tbsp) arrowroot
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • ¼ tsp xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 2 eggs


Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Grease a 23 cm (9 inch) springform cake tin with butter and line the bottom with baking parchment; make the circle of parchment on the bottom of the tin come up the edges of the tin by 2 cm (¾ inch) to stop the juices and honey seeping out.
Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Spread the walnuts out on the lined baking tray and lightly toast for 5–8 minutes until just beginning to colour. Leave to cool and then chop finely to very small pieces.
Spoon the honey evenly into the base of the tin. Peel, quarter, core and slice the pears to 1 cm (⅓ inch) thick slices (you should have about 450–500 g (1lb–1 lb 2 oz) of slices). Arrange the slices in the tin in a circle like rays of sun, overlapping them, starting from the centre then working out.
Using a handheld whisk or freestanding mixer, whisk the butter, Palmyra nectar powder, apple purée and vanilla extract until soft, smooth and light caramel in colour. Combine the flours, arrowroot, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), xanthan gum and salt. If using a mixer, change the whisk to a paddle, and add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating with the eggs; or mix in by hand. Finally add the chopped walnuts and mix until just combined. Pour the mix over the sliced pears, smooth it out if necessary, and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the tin and bake for a further 10–15 minutes, until the top is dark golden brown and a skewer inserted in the centre of the sponge comes out clean.
Leave to cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes, then remove from the tin (it is easier to remove while still warm) and invert onto a plate. Serve warm with a cup of tea, or it makes a divine pudding with vanilla cashew ‘yogurt’ (see page 53) or vanilla ice cream. Keeps well for at least three days in a sealed container.

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