Project Food Blog #4: From Upside Down To Right Side Up

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Like stilettos hobbling on the cobblestone in Paris, baking of the vegan variety can be just as treacherous to navigate.

In my dream world, I would own a cookbook like this:

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In reality, vegan baking often requires throwing caution to the wind, a healthy dose of trial and error, and a will to succeed.

(And let’s be real, a few choice words at times…)

I’ve had pancake flops galore.

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Blueberry muffin ‘bricks’.

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And clumpy custard.

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Just to name a few!

But then that moment occurs when time stops and every failed recipe is forgotten.

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Not even Brownies with a bad hair day could take this moment away from you.

You smile.

You cackle with delight.

And you tuck this day away in your memory for you never know what tomorrow’s baking adventures will bring.

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Sometimes in life, we need to turn things upside down to make them right side up.

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Gingerbread Caramel Pear Upside Down Cake: A Step-by-Step Guide

What do you get when you combine Thanksgiving dinner, your mother-in-law’s birthday, and your Aunt’s birthday all into one weekend? One spectacular occasion with loved ones and a couple of Fall-inspired celebration cakes!

For the full recipe in PDF format, click here.

First things first, preheat oven to 325F, take a deep breath, and visualize success. You are half way there already!

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Grease cake pan(s). You can use one 10-inch cake pan or a combination of smaller sizes. I used a 6, 5, and 4-inch pan for a 3-tier cake.

Gather up the troops!

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Peel.

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Now cut 1/4 inch slices.

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Set aside and prepare to make cascading caramel ribbons!

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In a sauce pan, combine 1/2 cup of brown rice syrup and 6 tablespoons of Earth Balance butter. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and then reduce heat to low. Add in 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup, 1 tablespoon of smooth peanut butter, and 2 teaspoons of fleur de sel. Stir well.

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The caramel will start to develop nicely and thicken up after a few minutes.

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Relieve any residual stress by making figure eights.

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Stir over low heat. After a few minutes, you will have a delicious, cascading ribbon of caramel.

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Pinch yourself.

But wait, there is more work to be done before vegan baking victory is yours!

Remove the caramel from heat and pour into the cake pan(s). You only have a window of about 20-30 seconds before the caramel starts to harden, so move quickly!

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Just not too quickly or you might drop the pan in the process…

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But then again you probably aren’t dangling a huge camera from your neck so you should be safe. ;)

Next, layer the pear slices on top of the caramel (I think I was on my 3rd vegan caramel attempt at this point).

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Set aside your cake pans and grab a mixer or some old-fashioned elbow grease. Gather the following ingredients: 1/2 cup sugar, 3/4 cup Earth Balance, 1/3 cup blackstrap molasses, 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, 1 cup almond milk, 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel, 1 tsp ground ginger, and 1 tsp ground cinnamon.

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Whip the sugar and Earth Balance until fluffy.

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In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (molasses, maple syrup, almond milk, and vanilla).

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In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients.

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Now take your wet mixture and add a bit to the fluffy sugar mixture. Mix on low to medium speed.

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Add a bit of the flour and mix for another 10 seconds or so.

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Alternate the wet and dry ingredients until heavenly gingerbread cake batter is achieved.

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(Feel free to lick the screen if it makes you feel better. I won’t tell.)

Distribute the cake batter into the cake pan(s).

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I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to have lots of fun here!

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Spread with a spatula until smooth as silk.

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Now for the fun part…

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I’m sure you can find a way to ‘clean’ the bowl. ;)

Bake for about 35-45 minutes depending on the size of your pan(s). Full baking instructions here.

Grab a plate or cake stand and place on top of the pan.

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Flip over and hope for the best. Gently tap the top of the pan and carefully remove the lid.

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As I said, sometimes things must be upside down to become right side up. Words to live by, I say.

Stack tiers (if necessary).

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Sift confectioner’s sugar over top.

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A vegan, Fall-inspired celebration cake that is easy on the eyes and delicious too.

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But, perhaps gingerbread just isn’t your thing.…

(I won’t mention any names.)

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If apples, spices, and caramel are more your thing, just take the above recipe and make 3 easy swaps:

  • Swap apples for the pears
  • Swap maple syrup for the molasses
  • Swap cinnamon for the ginger

 

This is what I’d like to call a 2 for 1 cake. Who doesn’t love a good baking bargain?

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For this Spiced Apple Upside Down Cake, I used three 7-inch cake pans, but you can use one 10-inch pan.

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Flip & Stack.

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If you are feeling truly crazy and adventurous make yourself another batch of caramel and go to town.

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This may be illegal in some countries.

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Please don’t ask me to choose. I just couldn’t.

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And when you see your mother-in-law light up with her beautiful smile, you will say it was worth every second.

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Cheers to our loved ones near and far and to delicious food and drink!

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Note: This is my official entry for Project Food Blog Challenge #4. Voting begins at 9am EST on Monday October 11th. If you enjoyed this post I would greatly appreciate your votes in carrying me into the next round! Click here to vote. Thank you!

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{ 154 comments… read them below or add one }

Alaina October 10, 2010

I am in complete awe of your creativity! I love the step by step directions, little sayings here and there, and all of the delicious dishes you create. :-)

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Tiffany @ Eat, Run, Write, Love October 10, 2010

I wish I had that cookbook too, that would make life so much easier. Thanks for this post, your recipe looks delicious.

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Danielle October 10, 2010

Those cakes look DELICIOUS! The next time I make a dessert I am definitely making the apple/maple version. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Shannon, Tropical Eats October 10, 2010

Ang, you impress me EVERY post!!!!!!!!!! Loved the first photo.. I sounded the author’s name out loud and my mom was like what are you talkin about?? hahah

GREAT entry!! Really hope you win the final prize .. you deserve it!

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GFree_Miel October 10, 2010

This…looks…AMAZING! I’m drooling over every picture (especially those of the cascading caramel).

I totally understand how hard it is to change around recipes. I wish I had that cookbook for gluten free cooking. That picture of you with the cookbook turned me into a giggle monster for a while. Haha!

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Candice @ ChiaSeedMe October 10, 2010

I must echo the sentiments of everyone else – this is one amazing post. From the photography to the recipe to your engaging writing – I love it! You truly are so talented:) I especially love the picture of your MIL at the end. It looks like it could be out of a magazine! You’ve got my vote. I can’t imagine how your post could not be the best one out there, and I’m going to be very surprised if you don’t end up winning the whole thing!

Could you tell me what kind of lens/lenses you mainly use? I have just been using the 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens that came with my Canon, but am on the verge of ordering a new one. I’m leaning toward a 50mm f/1.4, but have also considered a 60mm macro. The options are so overwhelming! Anyway,I searched your blog thinking you’ve probably been asked this before, but I couldn’t find it!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 11, 2010

aww thanks hun!

I have a Macro lens that I use for food photography. It is a 50mm 1.4 canon.

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Candice @ ChiaSeedMe October 13, 2010

Thanks, girl! That’s exactly what I’ve been looking at – your pictures are all the confirmation I need. Finally ordered it last night – so excited!

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Camille October 10, 2010

This is one of the most gorgeous posts you have ever done. I hope you win!

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Jessica @ The Process of Healing October 10, 2010

All I can say is you go girl.. that is AMAZING!

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Lesley Lifting Life October 10, 2010

Yum, yum, yum!! ‘Nuf said.

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Lori October 10, 2010

Another outstanding post!! The cake looks amazing, and the photography is beautiful. I have made a number of your recipes lately and every one has been delicious. I am counting down the days until Thanksgiving in the US so I can make your sweet potato casserole! I made it last year and it was the hit of the meal!!

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Niki October 10, 2010

Wow your photography is looking great in this post! All the shots make the food look even more delicious than I’m sure it is! Sounds like a great recipe!

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Mama Pea October 11, 2010

Oh no you di’int.

Um, can you order me a copy of that cookbook too? Thanks.

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Christan October 11, 2010

Oh, I just adore the last picture and also the three tiered cake picture.. <3

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Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes October 11, 2010

These look delicious…GOOD LUCK! :D

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Rachel @ Suburban Yogini October 11, 2010

Lovely! Although, it’s odd. I have always found vegan baking easier than non-vegan baking. I have egg issues clearly :)

However I may regret saying that this Christmas as I make vegan marzipan and royal icing…..

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Kristin (Cook, Bake, Nibble) October 11, 2010

Beautiful pictures, and that cake looks AMAZING! I’m jealous I didn’t get a slice :P

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving weekend!

xoxo
Kris

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Kristy October 11, 2010

Edible perfection at its best! PS: The color of pears away makes me feel good…not sure why…

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 11, 2010

they make me feel good too! I think it was my fav pic :)

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Noelle October 11, 2010

Good luck Angela! My vote is with you. If it means the only vegan making it to the LAST round, that would make me happy! Congrats!

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chelsey @ clean eating chelsey October 11, 2010

This is a FANTASTIC recipe!!! I think the best part about vegan baking is that you get to lick the bowl without being afraid that you will get salmonella!

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Heather (Heather's Dish) October 11, 2010

DROOL! i love tatins…this one looks killer. extra caramel please :)

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Jenny October 11, 2010

This is such an awesome entry! I love your pictures and what a delicious choice! : )

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Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin October 11, 2010

I’ve had so many flops with non-vegan baking, so I can’t even imagine how frustrating vegan baking must be sometimes! But you always seem to come up with a delicious product eventually. This cake looks incredible! :D

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Winnie October 11, 2010

Your posts are inspired, Angela… I feel so honored to be in the same contest as you! I’m not vegan, but this is just an amazing looking cake. Great job, as always ;)

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Jennifer @ Maple n Cornbread October 11, 2010

AMAZING cake and photos!!!!! I felt like I was right there baking along with you!
Happy Thanksgiving!! :)

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RhodeyGirl October 11, 2010

Love.

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Felicia October 11, 2010

You are amazing! I love when you put so much time and effort into something, and then it comes out amazing. It makes you feel so good, and I can tell you put so much love into this! Amazing job, wish I was there to try :)

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Leanne @ Radiant Balanced & Fit October 11, 2010

……Drool.

(that is all.)

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Haleigh October 11, 2010

The cake looks absolutely flawless! It is so beautiful… my favorite photo has to be the last two though. You caught the happiness and joy that good food and good company brings. Love it!

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Marathon Bound Gal aka Grace October 11, 2010

You could definitely be the author of that book…LOL! Love it!

Okay so yea, this dessert just made me crave upside down whatever!!! YUMMY! You will get my vote for sure!

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat October 11, 2010

This looks delicious my dear!! I’ve never seen a tiered upside-down cake before and I want to gobble this one up right now! Good luck for round 4 – I’m about to vote for ya now :D

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Claire (Low Impact Fashionista) October 11, 2010

Hahaha “blueberry muffin bricks” your failures are fun to laugh at (and encourage me to keep experimenting and trying) but I love your successes WAY more! This upside down cake looks delectable.

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Kathryn October 11, 2010

Woah….that is really all there is to say. Like seriously….woah. You have my vote.

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Leinana October 11, 2010

These cakes look & sound so incredible. What perfect recipes for the fall & holidays! I’m so glad that you’re still in the running & representing for the vegans! Voting for you!

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Sara October 11, 2010

I got pulled over last week for making a left turn somewhere that I KNEW may have been illegal, but I saw so many people doin it over the years I figured it was OK. Tell that to the cop who watched me :P

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Kaitlin October 11, 2010

Wow! This looks mouthwateringly (yes, a new word :) ) AMAZING! You can always count on my vote! :)

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Janessa October 11, 2010

What a gorgeous recipe and post! You are really blossoming in these food challenges. I also LURVE the book you’re reading in the first photo–where can I get one?! :D

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Anna October 11, 2010

Just voted – fingers crossed it goes well for you! Taught my dog how to shake one paw and the other, but anything further than that he just goes crazy and bats his arms about at random in desperation for his treat. Still, I adopted him when he was about 8 and have proven you definitely can teach an old dog new tricks (where there’s food involved). Love the Fall recipes you’re putting up – makes the transition to colder weather somewhat less painful…

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Mariko October 11, 2010

You are such a good writer. And you def need to write a cookbook so I can buy it.

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Jolene (www.everydayfoodie@hotmail.com) October 11, 2010

Oh wow Angela!!! “Impressed” isn’t even the right word to say how I feel about this post!! You deserve to be the next food blog star (although I think you are already a star!)

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Rachael October 11, 2010

I was super confused why you said you wanted to own a cookbook like that one while you stood there with it in your hands. I re read it a few times before I read the author’s name.. haha!

These recipes look delicious!! You have a real talent for food photography :)

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