As a kid, I absolutely loved to bake, so much so that at one point I even had a little business going of making cupcakes and cakes for friends and family. I still loved baking as I grew into my teens, but once I went vegan I felt quite discouraged. I assumed that vegan baking was going to be fiddly and difficult with no room for experimentation, so slowly my love for baking faded.
During a particularly nasty period of being ill, I spent my sick days wrapped up in bed watching baking shows and felt my love for baking coming back. I promised myself that once I didn’t feel like I was at death’s door, I would get my butt into the kitchen and bake again! And lo’ and behold this recipe for Orange & Cinnamon Vegan Upside-Down Cake was born.
This cake has a lovely combination of refreshing sweetness from the oranges and the warming touch of cinnamon and comes out looking quite classy and time-consuming–when in reality, it’s so simple to make that I made three in one night!
Vegan baking isn’t anything to be scared of; it just requires a little more creativity and thinking outside of the box. In this recipe, I’ve included a few tips to help anybody who’s beginning to venture into the world of baking vegan goodies, and I hope this recipe and the tips leave you just as excited to get baking (and with a delicious cake, of course)!
Orange & Cinnamon Vegan Upside-Down Cake
- FOR THE CAKE BATTER:
- 1.5 cups Cake flour*
- 3/4 teaspoons Baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 3/4 cup Turbinado sugar
- 1 cup Vegan buttermilk (1 cup Plant milk with 1 tablespoon replaced by lemon juice or apple cider vinegar)
- 1/3 cup Vegetable oil
- 1.5 teaspoons Vanilla extract
- The zest of one medium orange
- FOR THE ORANGE TOPPING:
- 5 Medium oranges; peeled, deseeded, and sliced into rounds
- 2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1.) Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a 6″ cake pan by generously greasing it. A springform baking tin makes the cake removal a bit easier, but a standard cake pan will do just fine as well!
2.) In a small bowl, prepare the “buttermilk”** by mixing together the plant milk and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Set aside for at least 10 minutes to curdle as you continue with the batter.
3.) In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour (or all-purpose flour with cornstarch*), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
4.) Returning to the bowl with the “buttermilk,” add in the vegetable oil, vanilla extract, orange zest, and sugar. Stir together until combined.
5.) Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the mixture of wet ingredients in. Stir until combined and no large chunks are visible.
6.) For the orange topping, mix together the 2 tablespoons of turbinado sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture onto the bottom of your greased cake pan so that it covers the entire bottom.
7.) Lay out your peeled and deseeded orange slices in an attractive pattern on top of the cinnamon and sugar. Gently pour the batter on top of the oranges, and give the cake tin bottom a few solid thumps against a table or counter to remove any large air bubbles.
8.) Bake the cake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Tip: When testing the cake do not insert the toothpick or knife too deeply into the cake or else you can hit the moist fruit and be tricked into thinking the cake is still raw when you’ve actually just got orange on your toothpick/knife!
9.) Once the cake is removed, allow to cool and set for at least half an hour. Once cooled, gently flip onto a serving plate. A sprig of mint makes a lovely garnish for this naturally vibrant cake, or just let the lovely pattern of the orange rounds shine through before you enjoy a slice of this refreshing cake.
* Cake flour is preferable when baking things meant to be light and fluffy due to its lower protein content; less protein means less gluten, and less gluten means a lighter, less chewy bake. A great substitute for cake flour is: 1 cup cake flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1 tablespoon removed and replaced by 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. So for this particular recipe, your measurements would be “1.5 cups all-purpose flour with 1.5 tablespoons replaced by cornstarch.”
** Dairy buttermilk is often used to keep cakes moist and fluffy due to the acidity of it reacting with the baking soda and gluten in the flour. To mimic this effect in vegan baking, a vegan “buttermilk” can be made by combining lemon juice or apple cider vinegar with plant milk. Not only does the acidity of either two cause the plant milk to “curdle” and become chunky like buttermilk, the acidity results in the same moist and fluffy cake!
Also by Aubrey: Teriyaki Tempeh Boats With Crunchy Carrot & Celery Salad
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Photos: Aubrey Pacheco