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

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on October 10, 2010

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:


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.


Blueberry muffin ‘bricks’.


And clumpy custard.


Just to name a few!

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


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.


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


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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Now cut 1/4 inch slices.


Set aside and prepare to make cascading caramel ribbons!


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.


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



Relieve any residual stress by making figure eights.


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


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!


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


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).


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.


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


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


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


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


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


(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!


Spread with a spatula until smooth as silk.


Now for the fun part…


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.


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


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

Stack tiers (if necessary).


Sift confectioner’s sugar over top.


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


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

(I won’t mention any names.)


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.


Flip & Stack.


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.


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


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



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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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

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Dani @ Body By Nature October 11, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Best book title ever!


Courtney @ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life October 11, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Everything about this post had me smiling! Absolutely LOVED it! You definitely got my vote, Angela! :)


Elle @ The occational musings of A Galley Slave October 11, 2010 at 7:26 pm

OMG! so voting for you right now. this looks incredible – you have really outdone even you.



Fit Chick in the City October 11, 2010 at 7:58 pm

This looks amazing! I just went apple picking yesterday and can’t wait to try this recipe.


Brittany (Eating Bird Food) October 11, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Beautiful Angela!! I’ve voting now!


Allison October 11, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Both look amazing- great job!


Amber K October 12, 2010 at 9:42 am

OMG, I don’t think it is possible to want to crawl into my computer to retrieve that cake more! It looks amazing! In all forms!


Heather October 12, 2010 at 11:35 am

Wowww…that looks impossibly delicious.


Stephanie October 12, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Dumb question, what is fleur de sol?


Margaret October 12, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Outdone yourself again Angela! I was wondering what you would come up with in this round. Here’s hoping that you get to the next round. If so, I should be visiting you by that time. So….. hopefully I will be right on time for sampling your next entry…….

Also, its not hard to be a nice mother-in-law… when you have such a wonderful daughter-in-law.


Whit @ Amuse Bouche October 12, 2010 at 2:01 pm

fabulous! what a great photo tutorial and an awesome way to show that you can tweak any recipe to make it fit what you are looking for!


Fiona at Life on Nanchang LU October 13, 2010 at 9:42 am

Looks incredible! Absolutely delicious. You have restored my faith in vegan baking, which has been sorely tested in the past by the various vegans in my life. I will send them this recipe so they can stop torturing me with their stuff.



@lickmyspoon October 14, 2010 at 1:30 am

Your photos of drizzled caramel and cake batter being scooped out of the bowl shouldn’t be legal, they could end hunger strikes! Also, I think there should be a week 11 challenge for best disaster photos. Good luck this week, voting for you!

Lick My Spoon


Joyti October 14, 2010 at 12:40 pm

O, that looks SO delicious! And it looks very successful, which is nice ’cause caramel can be tricky.


Julie @ Willow Bird Baking October 14, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Loved seeing your flops — and I LOVE the cake stacking you did! SO cute! You have a vote from me!

My own post is a romp through croissant making that’s filled with humor, exhaustion, and a little bit of popstar glamor. Come see if you’d like :)


Amelia from Z Tasty Life October 15, 2010 at 2:21 pm

congrats on being reader’s choice!!! Lovely post.
The next challenge is tough…off to make some pizza now :)


Debbie October 15, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Congrats on Reader’s Choice, I definitely see why. I CAN NOT wait to make this cake and i love your analogy of wearing heels in Paris! Good Luck in the next round!


[email protected] October 15, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Congrats on getting the Reader’s Choice on Food Buzz!

You are right about the Vegan cooking, sometimes it turns out awesome and sometimes, not so much! My friend Celine has a great Vegan blog called

Have a great weekend!


Sava October 15, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Wow that cake looks incredible.
I hope it isn’t illegal in this country. Otherwise you might not see me here for a couple months.
And when I come back I’ll have 3 times the muscle mass and maybe a tattoo? :P


Halley (Blunder Construction) October 16, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Congrats again, Angela! You have got a knack for this kind of competition. Can’t wait to see your entry for the next round!


Sana October 17, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Just wanted to let you know that your posts have been so so so amazing! Keep up the awesome blogging!


sanaa September 11, 2012 at 8:31 am


really fall in love with your recipe. wanting to try this one very soon. just wondering that no egg needed for this lovely gingerbread pear upside down cake?


Louise August 24, 2014 at 11:46 am

Omyword!… I loved this…you make readers feel as if we are right there in the moment with you…even down to the “I won’t mention any name!” …very well done… I have a lot of catching up to do!


Heather February 27, 2015 at 4:45 pm

Don’t get me started on the fair share of flopped, pun intended, pancakes. It seems everytime I ‘plan’ on making pancakes for breakfast they turn to hard, to mushy, to wrong.. those time it’s on a whim it’s brilliant. Thank you for another brilliant recipe!!! xo heather


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