You will not believe that this richly spiced cake has no oil or nuts and is sweetened only with maple syrup. Since good maple syrup is expensive, feel free to replace part of it with agave nectar or your favorite liquid sweetener.
1 1/2cupswhite whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2teaspoonsbaking soda
1/2teaspoonfreshly ground nutmeg
3large pearsI used Bosc
3/4cupmaple syrup or combination of agave and maple syrupdivided
Preheat oven to 350. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round non-stick baking pan with parchment paper cut to fit.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and stir well. Set aside.
Peel the pears. Cut one of them into thin slices about 1/4-inch thick (avoiding the core). Chop the other two into large chunks (again, no core).
Arrange the sliced pear in the prepared pan in any design you wish. Don't worry about using all the slices--just as many as will fit or fit your idea of the design. Pour 1/4 cup of the maple syrup over the pears. Reserve the rest.
Put the extra slices and the pear chunks into the blender with 2 tablespoons water. Blend, stopping if necessary to push down any stray pears, until it's about the consistency of applesauce.
Measure out 1 2/3 cups of the pear sauce. Reserve any extra for another use (it's good on a fruit salad or in a smoothie). If there's not enough, add applesauce until you have 1 2/3 cups.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the 1 2/3 cups of pear sauce. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of maple syrup and the other liquid ingredients. Stir until combined but don't over-stir. Carefully spoon the batter over the pears so that you don't move them and change the design.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, testing by inserting a toothpick in the middle. It's ready when the toothpick comes out clean.
Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen any stuck on parts of the cake. Place a serving dish over it and invert. Tap lightly to dislodge the cake from the pan. Loosen all the edges of the parchment paper and then slowly peel it back, using a knife or your fingers to push back into place any pieces of pear that want to stick to it. If there is glaze left on the paper, scrape it off with a knife and smooth it onto the cake.
Allow to cool. Cut into 8 slices and enjoy!
Note that the maple syrup is divided--1/4 cup is poured over the pears but the rest is mixed into the batter.