I believe I am not alone in affirming that the best desserts are the ones that use simple ingredients and easy methods of preparation. Thinking of all the recipes I've made, I realise that it was indeed the simplest ones that I kept making over the years. Among these there are only a few that amazed me with their versatility and inspired me to try other versions. One such recipe is Susan Voisin's Peach Upside-Down Cake. I found it three years ago while searching for a cake batter for my vegan upside-down pineapple cake. I've made her recipe many times using different fruit and even succeeded in creating a gluten-free version which I will post soon.
The apple version was an unexpected surprise. I don't know many desserts that make the apple a star without the help of cinnamon. The amount of caramel is just enough to bring out the sweetness and moisture of the apples, and mixing cinnamon in just doesn't work well. I tried it and wasn't impressed. This refreshing dessert, with its unfrosted appearance, with a slightly dense cake at the base and a thick layer of sweet, juicy, caramelized fruit on top, is glorious in all its simplicity. And simplicity is what most of Susan's recipes have in common. Her blog FatFree Vegan Kitchen features hundreds of mouthwatering dishes. Any search for fat-free or low-fat recipes will invariably lead to Susan's blog. I wholeheartedly recommend you visit it and while there do check out her luscious, super quick and easy Chocolate a l'Orange Mousse Pie as well.
Back to our apple cake, although I followed Susan's caramel recipe in all the versions of the peach cake, on this occasion I wanted a thicker layer of caramel and more sweetness, so I doubled the amount of sugar and also added a little margarine. So here you are: a delicious, foolproof recipe that's very easy to follow and doesn't take much to prepare.
Apple Upside-Down Cake (adapted from Susan Voisin's Peach Upside-Down Cake)
- 1 1/2 cups organic plain white flour (1 cup = 250 ml)
- 1/2 cup demerara sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
Mix the ingredients well in a bowl. Set aside.
- 1 cup soy milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest
Mix the soy milk and vanilla in a small bowl and set aside. Don't add the lemon juice and zest yet.
- 3 medium-sized apples (I used Braeburn for their strong flavour; they are firm, very juicy, sweet and a little tart)
- 2 Tb demerara sugar, powdered
- 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Peel and core the apples. Cut them into 8-10 pieces. Place them in a bowl and coat them well with the sugar and lemon juice. Set aside.
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 3 Tb water
- 1 Tb vegan margarine or butter
Prepare a 22 cm (8.7") cake pan by lightly coating it with oil (you can also make the cake in an iron skillet, see Susan's instructions for that). This step will ensure that the fruit will not stick to the pan when turning the cake upside down.
At this point add the lemon juice to the milk and let it sit to curdle a bit while preparing the rest.
In a tall saucepan add the sugar and water and place on medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer until it thickens and starts changing colour, stirring once in a while with a wooden spoon. Once it turns dark amber, add the margarine and stir continuously until it has melted (be careful here as it bubbles up quite a bit). Keep stirring for a few more seconds, then remove from heat. Pour it into the pan and tilt it so it evenly coats the bottom. If you're using an iron skillet as Susan did, make the caramel directly in it.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Arrange the apple slices in the pan over the caramel to form a nice pattern.
Give the wet ingredients a stir and mix them into the dry along with the lemon zest until just combined. Don't overmix, otherwise the cake will have a very dense texture.
Pour the batter over the apple layer, making sure to first fill the gaps between the slices. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake layer comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife along the sides for easy removal. Place a large serving plate on top and carefully invert the cake onto the plate.
Let the cake cool completely before slicing and serving.
This dessert reminds me of a childhood favourite, an upside-down cake with whole apples (peeled and cored of course). We used to frost it with plenty of whipped cream. Last time I made this cake I was tempted to frost it with coconut whipped cream, but I wasn't sure if the combination would work, since coconut has a pretty strong flavour, so I left that experiment for another time.
I hope you like this cake and come back for more versions of Susan Voisin's great recipe.
Enjoy and spread the magic!:)
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