Nutrition per serving may change if servings are adjusted.
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 16-ounce can pears in light syrup, drained
1 cups sugar, divided
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup buttermilk, divided
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract
To make cake: Preheat oven to 350 °F. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl.
Puree pears in a food processor or blender until smooth. Measure out 1/2 cup of the puree; keep the remainder for another use. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, butter, oil, vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon almond extract and the 1/2 cup pear puree in a mixing bowl. Whisk until well combined.
Beat egg whites in a clean mixing bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and beat until firm peaks form.
Add 1/4 cup buttermilk to the wet ingredients and beat with the mixer on low speed. Add half of the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just combined. Repeat with the remaining buttermilk and flour. (Be careful not to overmix, or the cake will be tough.) Fold in the reserved meringue with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
To make caramel-almond topping: Combine 3/4 cup sugar with water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Increase the heat to medium and cook, without stirring, until the syrup turns a deep caramel, 4 to 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly add 1/3 cup buttermilk. (The caramel will harden.) Return the caramel to low heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves. Stir in almonds and 1 teaspoon almond extract.
Place the cake, upside-down, on a serving plate. Poke holes all over the top with a thin skewer. Spoon the topping over the cake, spreading the almonds evenly and letting the caramel drip down the sides. Let the cake stand for about 1 hour to absorb the syrup, then serve.