Pear Upside-Down Five Spice Cake

This delicious, seasonal recipe was developed by one of Divya’s former students. Featuring whole grains, natural sweeteners and digestive spices, this cake feels as good as it tastes.

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This recipe is a wonderful example of co-inspiration. Its creator, Jennifer Caroff, developed it as an adaptation of my own recipe for Irresistible Buckwheat Cake found in What to Eat for How You Feel. I loved her Pear Upside-Down Five Spice Cake so much that I decided to feature it here in the Divya’s Journal.

Jennifer is a former student of mine and a graduate of ANACT. She is also the founder of FoodSOULutions, where she works as a natural chef, health coach and culinary instructor. You can learn more about her work at foodsoulutions.com and on Instagram at @foodsoulutions.

In Jennifer’s own words: 

“This adapted version of Divya Alter’s Irresistible Buckwheat Cake from What To Eat For How You Feel: 100 Seasonal Recipes combines freshly ground buckwheat flour and natural whole food sweeteners along with a high quality olive oil to yield a flavorful, moist and satisfying cake! Fresh pears, Chinese Five Spice (fennel, cinnamon, star anise, Szechuan pepper and clove), fresh ginger and orange zest celebrate the fall season and aid in the digestion of this festive sweet treat. Enjoy!”

Prep: 15 minutes | Bake: 25 minutes | Cool: 20 minutes
Makes 6-8 pieces | Gluten-free, Dairy-free



1 (shy) cup whole buckwheat groats (160 grams)

1⁄2 cup coconut palm sugar or sucanat (78 grams)

2 teaspoons arrowroot powder

1 tablespoon Chinese Five Spice

3⁄4 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda

1⁄8 tsp Soma Salt or sea salt



1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing

1⁄2 cup dates, finely chopped (105 grams)

1⁄3 cup grated peeled apple

1⁄2 cup almond milk

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

Zest from one orange, divided



3-4 firm ripe pears

Drizzle of maple syrup

Splash of vanilla extract

3-5 whole star anise pods (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 375℉. Grease a 9-inch round or square (parchment-lined) baking
pan with olive oil and set aside.

2. Place the buckwheat groats in a dry, high-speed upright blender and blend on high for about 20 seconds, until a flour forms. Check the consistency of the buckwheat flour between your fingers—if it feels slightly grainy, blend on high for a few more seconds to achieve a smooth even texture. Measure one full cup of the buckwheat flour to use in the cake.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the fresh buckwheat flour with the sugar, arrowroot powder, Chinese Five Spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well incorporated. Set aside.

4. In a small blender, combine the olive oil, dates, apple, almond milk, ginger and zest from only 1⁄2 of the orange and blend until smooth. Set aside.

5. To prepare the pears, peel, quarter and de-core them, taking the time to handle them gently. Slice them into visually pleasing slices, about 1⁄4-inch thick. Set aside.

6. To prepare the cake, drizzle a small amount of maple syrup and splash of vanilla into the base of the oiled baking pan. Sprinkle the remaining orange zest directly over this light coating.

7. Arrange the star anise pods (if using) and pear slices in any design you wish so
that the entire base of the pan is covered with the pears.

8. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until well combined.

9. Use a rubber spatula to evenly spread the cake batter over the pears. Bake for 25 to 27
minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for at least 20 to 25 minutes before flipping over the cake.

10. To flip the cake, first gently move a knife between the edge of the cake and the edge of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Then place your desired serving plate facedown over the cake pan, and turn the cake right side up onto the serving plate (gently peel off the parchment paper if you used it). Slice as desired and serve. Store at room temperature for one day, or refrigerate for up to three days.

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