It’s no secret that I love my sweets and cakes. I’ve been baking for as long as I can remember, even if my earlier attempts in high school were made from Betty Crocker cake mix packets and failed attempts at following recipes. Since those earlier years, I’ve become a bit more experienced with making different kinds of cakes, but since becoming vegan while I do know of vegan hacks to original non-vegan friendly recipes (apart from my chocolate and peanut butter pin wheels, see here) I haven’t really been trying my hand too often at making cakes apart from the one I’m about to share with you and a vegan cheesecake I’ll be posting about later on.
I used to be very picky about what goes in my cakes, the thought of banana bread and carrot cake didn’t appeal to me. I did end up trying both of these, and the after taste of banana in a loaf still doesn’t really appeal to me, but I did come to like carrot cake. It’s surprising how this orange stick of a vegetable that is mostly associated with hummus or boiled as a side to go with a main dish can be grated and used in cake.
This recipe from Jamie Oliver follows a similar concept…except we turn to something a bit sweeter and used more often for sweet dishes and desserts.
I wasn’t too sure at first how apples would work in the sponge of a cake, but knowing how well grated carrots work in cakes, the thought of using apples was an interesting concept to me. My mother-in-law has been very accommodating to my switch to veganism by cooking vegan only meals for everyone when we go for meals at theirs. For someone who’s so used to making dishes with animal products, we realised that she was starting to find it difficult to make a different dish each time we visited (my mother-in-law is the perfect hostess and doesn’t like the idea of serving the same food, even if it’s been weeks apart since we had that dish) so it was decided that we would bring a pudding. I’ve been collecting recipes to give me ideas of things to make and this vegan toffee apple upside down cake was something that grabbed my attention.
A lot of people think one of the things that they find difficult with, being vegan, is knowing what to use to substitute eggs and butter. An easy substitute for butter, that seems to be often overlook, is margarine. There are plenty of vegan options like sunflower, olive or soya margarines or spreads that work just as well as butter. A substitute that I’ve mentioned before for eggs is egg replacers like Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg (here) or egg replacers from health food stores. Another easy vegan hack if you would prefer to use something a bit more accesible is mixing 1 tbsp of ground flaxseeds with 3 tbsp of water to make one egg.
Luckily, this upside down cake is simple and easy to make and doesn’t require any egg replacements. It’s a lovely, moist cake that I really enjoyed without it being too sweet. When I made it, I estimated it would serve about 8 people, but between the OH, his parents and I, there was only one slice left by the end of the day!
In case you’re wondering what dessert apples are, I made the mistake of buying cooking (Bramley) apples, but any eating apples will do!
Vegan toffee apple upside down cake
25g vegan margarine, plus extra for greasing
3 dessert apples
195g muscovado sugar
180g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½ tsp mixed spice
80ml sunflower oil
1 tsp vinegar
85g walnuts (optional)
1. First, rreheat the oven to 180ºC/gas 4 and grease and line the base of a cake tin or baking tray.
2. Next, melt 85g of the sugar and the margarine in a pan until it forms a thick brown sauce.
When melted, it should look something like this
3. While it’s still hot and runny, quickly spread the toffee sauce evenly onto the base of your tin or tray. As it cools, it’ll get thicker and it’ll be harder to spread so you’ll need to work quickly.
4. Now finely slice one of the apples and line this on top of the toffee sauce.
5. Core and coarsely grate the other two apples into a bowl and add the oil, 180ml water, the vinegar, grated apple and lemon zest.
The grated apples will go brown very easily, but don’t worry this is completely natural because of oxidisation
6. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, 110g of sugar, the bicarbonate of soda and mixed spice.
7. Once the dry ingredients are well mixed, add in the grated apple mixture and mix well. If you choose to use walnuts, roughly chop and mix this in as well.
8. Now pour the cake mix over the apples in the tin and spread evenly.
9. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
Always test the centre of the cake as it takes the longest to cook, if the skewer comes out clean, your cake is ready
10. Leave the cake to rest at room temperature until it’s cool to the touch, but don’t put it in the fridge as this can cause the cake to separate because of the sudden change in temperature. To make sure the cake comes out smoothly, run a flat blade knife along the edges of the tin or tray to free the cake from sticking to the sides.
11. Once the cake is cooled, use a plate or tray that’s big enough to cover the top of the cake and turn the dish upside down and carefully lift the cake tin or tray.
My toffee apple upside down cake
I made the mistake of buying Bramley apples instead of dessert/eating apples, but it still tasted great. The only difference is with Bramley/cooking apples, they still hold their shape once it’s been cooked. For a dessert that’s slightly softer, you can buy eating apples which will melt in your mouth with the toffee when the cake is ready.
If you’ve tried this recipe, let me know in the comments below what worked for you and what didn’t!