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Pound Low-Fat Buttermilk Cake (Gluten-Free)

Courtesy of Andrea Frankel. Makes one large bundt or tube cake. This cake won first prize at the 1995 Nevada County (CA) Fair, in the Very Low Fat Baked Goods division, Cakes: Heavy Textured class. It is one of those are you SURE there isnt wheat in this? recipes.

2 16-oz cans pear halves (in juice or light syrup), drained
2 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoon vegetable or nut oil (I like almond for this)
2.5 cups gluten-free Gourmet flour mix (white or brown)
1 cup soy flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
.5 teaspoon baking soda
1.75 cups sugar or 1.25 cups fructose, divided use
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon gluten-free vanilla extract
grated zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon gluten-free almond extract
2 large eggs, separated
2 large egg whites

Prep (can be done beforehand): Puree pears in food processor or blender. Transfer to medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring almost constantly, until reduced to about one cup (anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes). Allow to cool completely. If making ahead, store covered in fridge.

Melt butter over medium heat, in small saucepan or skillet where you will be able to see the color change. Cook, swirling pan, until the butter turns a light, nutty brown, about 60 seconds. (Once youve done this, you can also tell by smell when it first turns. Pour into a teacup where you have measured the vegetable oil, stir and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil or spray with pan spray a 10 tube pan or large bundt pan. Dust with rice flour or gluten-free flour mix, and shake out excess. (I have a heavy, nonstick bundt pan that works great with this recipe, but I still spray and dust to make sure the cake slides out whole.)

Sift flours, salt, and leavenings together into medium bowl; set aside. In a large bowl, mix pear puree, butter-oil mixture, 1.5 cups of sugar (=1 cup fructose), buttermilk, extracts, lemon zest, and egg yolks; whisk until smooth.

In clean mixing bowl and with clean beaters, beat the 4 egg whites until soft peaks form. While continuing to beat on high, slowly add the remaining .25 cup sugar or fructose and beat until stiff, but not dry peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry ingredients into the pear puree mixture alternately with the beaten whites, making three additions of the dry and two of the whites. Turn batter into pan, and bake 40-45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool. (Hint: if you cant resist and attack this cake while still warm, it will not have the dense texture of a real pound cake!).

This cake is fine as-is, or can be dressed up with a sprinkling of confectioners sugar, melted lemon marmalade brushed on the top, or a light lemony icing. But my all-time favorite is to use the slices for strawberry shortcake!

Substitution note: I have not tried replacing the buttermilk in this recipe, but if you do, be sure to add something acidic like a Tablespoon of lemon juice or rice vinegar so the reaction with the baking soda will work.

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