Back before having to go wheat and dairy free I once made a delicious pear and polenta cake. Annoyingly when I thought to make it again I couldn’t find the recipe or remeber which book it was in. I having feeling it may have been from a carribean recipe book I borrowed from our local library.
Fast forward a few years and three out of the five of us are having to avoid wheat, gluten and eggs. I had some fruit to use up including three pears and this cake came to mind. Gluten free vegan pear and polenta cake is born 😀 I can’t remember how it compares to the original cake but this version was light, soft and yummy.
Aquafaba is a versatile ingredient that can be used as an egg replacer in many recipes, such as cakes, cookies, meringues and sweets. It can also be used as a binder for burger and is ideal for people who suffer with egg allergies or intolerances or anyone who is avoiding eating animal products. Although aquafaba sounds like a fancy, hard to find or expensive ingredient in fact nothing could be further from the truth. This unusual sounding liquid is in fact the liquid that is found in cans of chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) and other beans and something that is normally thrown away without a second thought. It is also possible to use the liquid that is left from cooking dried beans.
The name aquafaba has been created using the Latin words for water and beans, aqua (water) and faba (beans). It is believed that the proteins and starches in the liquid enable it to be used in this way due to the fact that they closely resemble those found in traditional egg whites. Generally 3 tbsp of aquafaba should be used to replace one egg. It can also be stored in the fridge for several days or frozen. Freezing in ice cube trays in tablespoon measures is an ideal way to do this, making the liquid easy to defrost and use at a later date.
Pears are a delicious and healthy fruit that are available in many varieties. They contain a range of vitamins and minerals including niacin, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc.
Some health benefits of eating pears include:
- Pears are a good source of dietary fibre, containing approximately 8% of fibre per 100g.
- They are a good source of nutrients such as beta-carotene and lutein which can help protect against harmful free radicals.
- Pears help to boost the immune system due to the fact that they contain antioxidants such as vitamin C and copper which help to fight off disease.
- The fibre content in pears helps to promote good colon health and reduce the chances of cancer.
- They are one of the least likely foods to cause an allergic reaction.
- The potassium in pears helps to keep your heart healthy and muscles working well.
- Boiling the juice of Chinese pears with honey creates a warm tea that is very healing for the throat and vocal cords.
Polenta is a cornmeal grain that has many uses in cooking. It is often cooking in water and then left to set solid before being sliced and baked grilled or fried. It can also be used in baking in place of other grain flours and adds a pleasant sweetness and texture.
Polenta is made from milled corn and is an excellent source of carotenoids and is a low carbohydrate food. It is a source of including vitamins A and E and as corn is gluten free it is ideal as a replacement for wheat flour in baking or for breading foods such as chicken or fish. This food also contains traces of the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and zinc.
Gluten Free Vegan Pear and Polenta Cake Recipe
- 3/4 cup water
- 3 tbsp liquid from canned beans or chickpeas (aquafaba)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 soft pears (tinned can be used), peeled, quartered and cored
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 cup gluten free flour blend such as Doves Farm
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 cup fine polenta
- Sprinkle cinnamon
- Sprinkle sugar
- Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and grease or line a 7 inch cake tin.
- Whisk the aquafaba as you would eggs.
- Lay the pear quarters in the bottom of the cake pan. Sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar over the pears.
- Mix together the aquafaba, vanilla extract and sugar until well combined. Whisk in the oil.
- Sift the flour, polenta and baking powder into the wet mixture and stir to mix well.
- Beat in water to create a smooth batter.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before turning over and serving.
Photo source – free photos, [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr