Saturday, 24 August 2013

Gluten-free upside-down cake

This cake was made with locally-picked plums.
I can't even describe how excited I am that I figured this out. Growing up, my grandmother used to make peach upside-down cake for dessert for Sunday family dinner. Of all the things she made, this was hands-down my favourite treat. (Except maybe her pickles, although this cake has the perk that you can eat it with a spoon and not have people look at you sideways...) Only thing is that it had wheat flour and eggs and milk in it. So a no-no for vegans, as well as celiacs.

So I decided it was time to post a proper gluten-free recipe on this blog. By proper, I mean a recipe that would conventionally have gluten in it. Since this is a cake, and baking can be finnicky, here you have it: a gluten-free cake that's also vegan and so, so tasty.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this cake is the process you use to make it. You have to melt the butter in the pan, then sprinkle with sugar and top it with fruit. That's how you get the amazing, fruity, caramelized "topping" (when you serve it, you'll flip it over so the fruit is on top, if you're like my family).

These plums are a little small, and if you have bigger ones, that'd be OK. Just make sure there's still some brown sugar showing on the bottom of the pan, or else you won't get that nice caramel topping stuck to the bottom of the cake!

The kind of odd thing about this recipe is that the cake rises so much that the batter doesn't actually cover the bottom of the pan before baking. It could cause paranoia in newer bakers, which is why I mention it. Don't worry. It will rise and meet in the middle, and cover the whole surface of the pan, no problem. You'll probably have lines where a bit of brown sugar stuck before it met in the middle, but after all, it still tastes just as nice, doesn't it?

Don't freak out if your batter is a little scant, like this. It will rise and spread while baking and fill the bottom of the pan.

If you're not gluten-free, you can make this with wheat flour, as well. But why would you, if you have gluten-free flour on hand? It's still delicious, and most people are already getting more than enough gluten in their diets.

Gluten-free upside-down cake
Makes 8 servings

2 cups gluten-free flour mix
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup soft silken tofu
1/2 cup water
1 cup golden cane sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
2/3 cup whole brown sugar
Peaches, plums, or another kind of fruit (enough to cover the pan bottom with some space left)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, tofu, water, vanilla and golden cane sugar. Whisk in flour mixture until smooth and set aside while you prepare the fruit layer, so that it can thicken a little.

Place a 9" x 13" cake pan over a stove burner and add Earth Balance. Melt the margarine and remove from heat. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the melted margarine, and then arrange the fruit over the bottom of the pan. You shouldn't cover the entire bottom. There should be large spaces between the pieces of fruit, so that about as much space as is covered with fruit is also left uncovered. The best fruit for this is halved peaches, pineapple rings, or other sweet fruits that can be laid flat and cook easily.

Once your fruit is placed on the bottom of the pan, whisk the batter to break up any air bubbles, and then scoop small spoonfuls over the pieces of fruit. You will not be able to cover the whole bottom of the pan, so just focus on making sure all the fruit has a little batter on top of it. When it bakes and rises, it will spread to cover the rest of the pan.

Bake the cake for about 30-35 minutes, until the take is firm to the touch and golden brown, with a little brown sugar bubbling up at the edges. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.


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