Chai-Spiced Pear Cake (gf)

Gluten-Free Chai-Spiced Pear Cake
As a new-ish resident of the Bay Area, I am, for the first time, experiencing the chill of a Bay Area winter. Having grown up on California’s Central Coast, our winters were pretty mild at their worst. Let’s just say I spent these cold months in flip flops, and the first time I actually saw snow was during a trip to Tahoe a few years back. 

Due to this chilly change in temperature, I am slowly learning the art of layering after acknowledging that my go-to casual look consisted of spandex yoga pants and a light pullover sweater. The scarves I once wore solely for fashion now serve their true purpose.

I am a chilly person by nature and am constantly looking for ways to warm up (other than sticking my ice cold feet on Alex’s exposed legs). Tea is always a good option, especially when it involves the warming spices of chai. When I came across this gluten-free recipe for chai-spiced pear cake from The Bojon Gourmet, I knew it would be the perfect winter treat.

This was a very easy recipe, and The Bojon Gourmet found the perfect balance of grain-free flours creating a tender, yet stable and moist skillet cake.

I loved the addition of the chopped pears in the batter alongside the sliced pears on top for a show-stopping presentation. Be sure to use course cane sugar in the recipe as the sugar and spice mixture added to the top creates a nice crust.

The layering of the pears in a clock-like pattern on top of the cake baked into a perfectly golden brown design that made this dish look very impressive. We had some friends over for a weeknight BBQ and ended the evening with this warming skillet cake. When serving, add some honey and cinnamon (to taste) to the remaining crème fraîche in your container. The tangy creaminess is a wonderful complement to this chai-spiced pear cake.

This recipe certainly warmed up our chilly weeknight here in the Bay Area, and I hope it will bring warmth to your kitchen too!

Gluten-Free Chai-Spiced Pear Cake

Chai-Spiced Pear Cake (gf)

Yield: Makes one 10" cake, 8-10 servings


    For the chai-spiced sugar:
  • 3/4 cup (5 3/4 ounces) organic cane sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • For the cake:
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons/4 ounces) unsalted butter, plus 1/2 tablespoon for greasing the pan, at room temperature
  • chai-spiced sugar from above (see instructions)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (4 ounces) sweet white rice flour
  • 1/4 cup (1 1/4 ounces) millet flour
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) oat flour
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) buckwheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) crème fraîche (or sour cream)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/4 pounds ripe but firm pears (about 3 medium)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice


    For the chai-spiced sugar:
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon. Set aside 2 tablespoons to top the cake.
  2. For the cake:
  3. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter a 10" cast iron or oven-proof skillet with 1/2 tablespoon of softened butter.
  4. In the bowl of a mixer, cream together butter and chai-spiced sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating each until combine. Add vanilla and beat until combine.
  6. In a medium bowl, sift together rice, millet, oat, and buckwheat flours, baking powder, and salt. Add half of this mixture to the butter, stir on low until just combined. Add the crème fraîche, stir on low until just combined, then add the remaining flour mixture, stirring on low until just combined, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  7. Cut about 1 pear into 1/2" cubes to equal 1 cup. Slice remaining pears into 1/2" thick slices. Drizzle the pears with lemon juice to keep them from browning and add a zing of flavor. Gently fold the pear chunks into the batter, then spread the batter evenly into the greased skillet.
  8. Lay pear slices over the top of the cake in a clock-like pattern with the fatter sides facing out, gently pressing them into the batter. Sprinkle the reserved 2 tablespoons of chai-spiced sugar evenly over the top.
  9. Bake the cake until the top is golden, the sides are pulling away from the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45-55 minutes. The cake needs to set in the pan so allow to cool for at least 1 hour. This cake is best the day it is made. Leftovers can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.


If you do not own a cast iron skillet, you can use any oven-safe or springform baking pan. Organic cane sugar (Sugar in the Raw is a common brand, you can also find cane sugar at Trader Joe's) is more course than granulated sugar and creates a nice crust on top of the cake.

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