Gluten + dairy-free spiced pear and almond cake recipe

Five years ago today, I posted my very first blog post. We were living back home in Raglan, NZ in our little house in the trees. My baby girl was turning 4 on the same day (she's 9 today, far out!) and I thought it was as good a time to start a project as any. It wasn't anything fancy (I still like to think it's staying true to it's roots in that sense!), we had dodgy dial-up Internet which made uploading photos to my site a major test in patience, my little brother would email me weekly to tell me all the spelling and grammar mistakes I had printed and my photos, well, they were just embarrassing. But I started. 
There were approximately 5-6 other New Zealand food bloggers at the time and only a few more over the ditch in Australia (I had to explain what a food blog was to most people I talked to, oh how times have changed). Writing a food blog in 2010 meant there was usually one very passionate, but often completely inexperienced person behind the scene, testing recipes, taking photos and writing into the wee hours. It was a thing we all did because we had this innate urge to share our recipes with the world.

It's actually kinda crazy to see how much has changed in only five years, but when I do stop to think back to the person I was back then, it feels like a lifetime ago.
At the end of this year, five years will also mark the end of our time here in Australia and while the move is creeping up all too quickly, I'm not quite ready to think about it just yet. It's going to be bitter sweet, that's for sure.
Sending big hugs to all of you who come here and read my rambles and cook my food, a special one for the handful of you who have been here since the start. I know there's a few of you still reading after all these years and it makes me smile to think you love this space as much as I do.
Much love
Emm xx

Spiced pear + almond
In this lovely, simple little winter cake I've used olive oil in place of the usual butter. A bonus for those of you who can't eat dairy. Ground almonds keep things from drying out, while the pear slices and almonds add texture. If you'd like more of a ginger hit, fold through a tablespoon of finely chopped crystallised ginger along with the pears.
Serves 10-12
4 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
140g (2/3 cup) firmly packed blended unrefined raw sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
The finely grated zest 1 lemon
80ml (1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil
300g (2 3/4 cups) ground almonds (almond meal)
45g (1/3 cup) fine brown rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 pears, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
40g (1/3 cup) sliced almonds
Pure icing sugar, to dust, optional
Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Grease and line the base and
sides of a loose-bottomed 23cm (9 inch) cake tin with baking paper.

Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla using an electric mixer or
handheld beater for 5 minutes until thick and pale. Add lemon zest and drizzle
in olive oil, continue to beat until just incorporated. Add ground almonds and sieve
over brown rice flour, baking powder and spices. Gently fold in using a
large metal spoon until just combined. Fold through pear slices, then transfer
to the cake tin, scatter sliced almonds over the top and bake for 55-60 minutes
or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre. Remove from
oven, cool in the tin 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool
further. Dust with icing sugar and serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Best eaten on the day of
baking, however it will store for 3 days in an airtight container.

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  • Reply
    Madeleine BS
    July 6, 2015 at 2:21 am

    Congrats. I always look forward to your posts and you know how i feel about your amazing book!!! This looks super yummy Mx

    • Reply
      July 7, 2015 at 6:37 am

      🙂 Thanks for all your support over the years Madeleine! xx

  • Reply
    July 6, 2015 at 2:49 am

    Wow, five years go by so quickly (I had to double check surely 2010 wasn't five years ago, ahem…). Anyway, congratulations on your beautiful space x

    • Reply
      July 7, 2015 at 6:38 am

      The years sure are creeping by! Thanks heaps xx

  • Reply
    Nicola Galloway
    July 6, 2015 at 8:48 am

    Congratulations Emma! You are still one of my favourite places to visit online and your recipes are always so perfectly timed 🙂 And how exciting you will be back in NZ later in the year, hopefully some day we get to meet in person especially if you are that little bit closer. All the best for the next 5 years, I will be reading xx

    • Reply
      July 7, 2015 at 6:38 am

      Thanks heaps Nicola! xx

  • Reply
    July 6, 2015 at 8:51 am

    Looks delicious Emma. The extra virgin olive oil doesn't add too much olive oil flavour?

    I made a couple of lovely recipes I hadn't tried out of your cookbook this week – pumpkin & date muffins and the tofu and pickled carrot stir fry (recommended to me by the teenage boy next door who had helped his mum to make it!)

    That was really interesting to read about the short history of food blogs in NZ – although I'm sure 5 years feels like a long time to you. What a mission doing it in the days of dial up internet! Congrats on the wonderful blog that you have built up over that time (and the beautiful photography & writing).

    Arohanui, Nicky

    • Reply
      July 7, 2015 at 6:41 am

      Hi Nicky,
      You can definitely taste the olive oil, but I love it that way! If you prefer, use a mellow tasting olive oil or macadamia oil.
      That's so cool to hear your teenage neighbour is helping his mum cook from my book and that you loved those recipes too!
      Re: NZ food blogs. We tend to be a little behind on these kinds of thing 😉 While food blogs had been around for a good 4-5 years before I started mine (in the US mostly), they sure were few and far between in NZ in 2010! Thanks heaps for your well-wishes xx

  • Reply
    July 6, 2015 at 9:09 am

    omg congratulations!!!

    • Reply
      July 7, 2015 at 6:42 am

      Thanks Anna xx

  • Reply
    July 6, 2015 at 10:39 am

    I'm relatively new to your blog and yours was the first that I follow – a bit slow keeping up with technology! So pleased I found you and your wonderful book. You're so clever with flavours. I'm always delighted to see a new post. Well done and thank you x

    • Reply
      July 7, 2015 at 6:42 am

      Thanks for your lovely words Angelika! xx

  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    July 6, 2015 at 11:43 am

    I definitely do not make enough pear recipes. This cake is gorgeous!

    • Reply
      July 7, 2015 at 6:42 am

      Thanks Katrina! xx

  • Reply
    Becca | Spices and Spatulas
    July 6, 2015 at 11:58 am

    congrats on five beautiful years of blogging! I love following your corner of the internet-world. Here's to the next five! xo

    • Reply
      July 7, 2015 at 6:43 am

      Cheers Becca! xx

  • Reply
    July 6, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    pear & almond, yum! the cake looks & sounds delicious.

    & happy blog anniversary 🙂

    • Reply
      July 7, 2015 at 6:43 am

      Thanks Vickie! xx

  • Reply
    July 6, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    Have learned so much from you Emma!You are in our kitchen often ,my kids with their grubby hands on your cookbook.Thanks for all the hard work,your beautiful site makes my day often:)

    • Reply
      July 7, 2015 at 6:44 am

      Dearest Jacquie, our friendship is one of the coolest things to have come out of writing this blog. Thanks so much for stopping by all these years, your support, cheers and funny emails always bring a smile to my face xx

  • Reply
    london bakes
    July 6, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    Happy happy five years (I can't believe you've "only" been blogging for five years; I so look up to everything you've achieved in this space in such a relatively short period of time). Thank you for all the wonderful posts that you've shared with us over the past five years and here's to many more!

    • Reply
      July 7, 2015 at 6:45 am

      Thanks heaps dear Kathryn, you're kind words always make me blush. You're too kind. xx

  • Reply
    July 6, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Congratulations both in regards to the blog and all you've achieved as well as to your daughter.
    I hope your move isn't too stressful and I look forward to reading all about it soon

    • Reply
      July 7, 2015 at 6:48 am

      Thanks Kimberly! The move is gonna be a huge undertaking, that's for sure, but a good one xx

  • Reply
    July 6, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    Happy (belated) anniversary to you, sweet woman (and happy day to your little lady!). I'm thankful for you and a friendship that has grown out of your decision to start this beautiful site. Blog world is, undeniably, a better place with you in it. XO

    • Reply
      July 7, 2015 at 6:49 am

      Dear Ashlae, you're too kind and please know, the feeling is mutual!! You're the best xx

  • Reply
    Abby Ingwersen
    July 6, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    Oh, such a beautiful post, Emma. Congrats on 5 years; I can't wait to see what the future holds for your lovely space! <3

    • Reply
      July 7, 2015 at 6:49 am

      Thanks heaps Abby!! Much love xx

  • Reply
    Jessie Snyder | Faring Well
    July 7, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    Congratulations on your anniversary and daughter's birthday! How exciting and wonderful. It is amazing to see how this blogging world has grown, I just love it so much. Grateful for all the time and energy you have put into cultivating this welcoming, delicious space. And am excited for you and your future moving plans – cannot wait to follow along! Happy week Emma!

  • Reply
    renee (will frolic for food)
    July 7, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    oh i absolutely LOVE this! it's summer in the states so i might try this with nectarines or plums when they ripen. congrats on 5 years of being awesome and creating beautiful, delicious recipes for us all to enjoy <3

  • Reply
    Kate P
    July 8, 2015 at 4:24 am

    Wow! Five years already Emm – congratulations on all you have achieved!

  • Reply
    Cate Lawrence
    July 8, 2015 at 7:17 am

    congratulations! Your cake looks absolutely delicious

  • Reply
    Claudia | The Brick Kitchen
    July 8, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Wow – five years seems like eternity to me, being one of the those new food bloggers! I got my hands on your cookbook last week and just wanted to say that I absolutely love it – your photos and recipes are gorgeous and look absolutely delicious. I will definitely be trying many of them out! I love the use of olive oil in this cake recipe too – it can add so much flavour! 🙂

  • Reply
    July 10, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    Congrats on 5 years! Always nice to celebrate with cake….and this is a very lovely cake. I have all of the ingredients except for the pears which I can easily get. They should be available fresh off the tree in a few weeks in our neck of the woods – yum!

  • Reply
    July 12, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    Emma, I have been gratefully (not gracefully!) dipping in and out of your story for the last five years or so, but I do believe this may have been the first recipe of yours I have baked. With leftover pears, a penchant for meal-based cakes and having had a trip to the local grocer for all my unbleached, unrefined, gluten-free and alternative flours, this cake practically made itself. I halved the recipe and the sugar content and baked in a 15" tin (not loose bottomed – only lost about 10 flaked almonds when I upturned). It was just divine with some mascarpone – I imagine it would also be divine with some honey labne. Thanks for being a part of my Sunday afternoon 🙂

  • Reply
    July 14, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Oh congrats on your blog-anniversary!! Just today i made the quiche with roasted tomatoes from your book (posted it on Instagram if you want to see) and it´s so good, esp. the tomatoes! Your blog is in the top list of my favourite food blogs and even if I didn´t read it from the beginning it´s one of the first i discovered and loved! Wish you all the best for the move (back to NZ?) cheers from Vienna Julia

  • Reply
    Janet NZ
    July 16, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    Five years?!
    Congratulations Em.
    I remember reading about you and your blog in a magazine and being so thrilled to find you. A newly diagnosed coeliac, I was struggling to figure out what the heck that even meant – so you and your lovely gluten free blog (Blog?? What was that?? Lol) were a lifeline.

  • Reply
    genevieve @ gratitude & greens
    July 16, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    Congratulations on the blog anniversary! I haven't been commenting as much as I would have liked to in the past few months but thank you for all the lovely recipes you share. I discovered your blog 2-3 years ago and I can't believe how fast time flies!

  • Reply
    Rochelle's Lenz
    July 17, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    Congratulations Emma! It is so amazing to think that you only started four years ago. When I first found you I thought you were the most inspiring food writer and of course recipe creator. You were so critical in helping me turn our families eating around when we needed to become dairy and gluten free eaters. Your heartfelt posts in the beginning spurred me on to keep going and know that soon it would all become natural – especially so when I had a toddler and new baby. Everywhere I go I celebrate you with others interested in wholesome food, especially because you hail from the mighty Waikato. You even inspired me to write…albeit poorly. Enjoy Oz and all its abundance x

  • Reply
    July 20, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    5 years! Wow! You have been an absolute inspiration to me these last few years. I can't believe you're moving back to nz. Is it Raglan or somewhere else? Thank you so much for the shared recipes, stunning photos and above all else, your honesty, which has given me the confidence to be more honest than I ever could have imagined with others and myself. Thank you x

  • Reply
    July 20, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    Great recipe, will try it! Just, have you some advise about egg vegan alternatives? Thanks 🙂

    • Reply
      July 21, 2015 at 4:27 am

      As it's the eggs which give structure and lightness to this particular cake, I don't think you'd be able to get a similar result using egg replacers, especially in a cake that uses so many eggs. Sorry! Maybe do a search for gluten-free, vegan cake recipes and then just add the spices, pear and almonds to that?

  • Reply
    Sylvie @ Roamingtaste
    July 24, 2015 at 9:31 am

    Congrats on making it so long, it definitely takes dedication and your blog is such a sweet place to visit! This cake looks like a perfect way to celebrate!

  • Reply
    July 25, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    I remember when I started blogging 6 years ago, everything was different: my life, the way we blogged, the food, too! Now that my diet is mainly gluten and dairy free this cake is perfect for my birthday, next Monday, probably with Summery peaches here in Tuscany!
    Congratulations on your anniversary!

  • Reply
    Sarah | Well and Full
    July 28, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    I remember the first time I tried to make and almond cake…. I was eight or nine, and I had seen an almond cake on a cooking show. My mom helped me make it! This is definitely a step up from that, though. I love the spices you've used, I bet they're delicious with the pears 🙂

  • Reply
    October 8, 2015 at 6:29 am

    If I wanted to use butter instead of oil, how much should I use? Love from the Netherlands, Michelle

    • Reply
      October 9, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      I changed the method in this recipe to be able to use oil in place of butter, so while I've not tried it this way with butter, I'd go for 1/3 cup melted butter (cooled) in place of the oil.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Thanks for such a great recipe. I’ve been rarely satisfied with the results of the recipes I’ve tried online without some further adjustments and substitutions but this recipe was perfect. I used the grams measurements which turned out to be less than mentioned cups measurements and I used fine white rice flour instead of brown rice and finally my cake was baked perfectly at the 45 minutes mark (I live in Canada so that might be the reason?!). Thanks once again for sharing this great recipe.

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