Mini Apple Upside-Down Cakes {Vegan}

Mini Apple Upside-Down Cakes {Vegan}Last Friday, I took the day off from work and went on a day-trip upstate with a few girlfriends, including fellow food blogger, Nimai Larson. She and I have known each other for a couple of years now. When she’s not busy making music and touring with her band, Prince Rama, Nimai loves to spend time whipping up vegan recipes. She’s an absolute doll!

Mini Apple Upside-Down Cakes {Vegan}Mini Apple Upside-Down Cakes {Vegan}Our original plan for our upstate adventure had been to go apple- and pumpkin-picking, but it was raining, so we ended up grabbing a few bushels of sweet Macoun and McIntosh apples at Salinger’s Orchard in Brewster, New York. Then we set up camp in the kitchen of our friend Katrina’s family home and did some serious baking.

Nimai and I had a bit of difficulty coming up with something to bake together–apple pies and crisps often require a combination of sweet and tart apples, but tart apples won’t be available at Salinger’s until later in the season. We racked our brains and tore through our recipe archives before settling on upside-down cake. Nimai had brought along a mini-loaf pan, so we divided the batter into it and these Mini Apple Upside-Down Cakes were born!

Mini Apple Upside-Down Cakes {Vegan}Mini Apple Upside-Down Cakes {Vegan}Mini Apple Upside-Down Cakes {Vegan}These sweet little cakes start with a batter similar to the base of my Mango Upside-Down Cake. Here it’s made vegan–a mixture of flaxseed (or chia) and water replaces the eggs and non-dairy milk is used in place of the usual buttermilk. A combination of maple syrup and granulated sugar sweetens the cakes, although you may nix the syrup and use brown sugar in place of the white stuff. The batter is scented with apple pie spices and a bit of fresh-pressed apple cider before being spooned over sliced sweet apples and a subtly-spiced maple caramel.

These Mini Apple Upside-Down Cakes bake up super soft and puffy, and they’re just gorgeous. My favorite part about this recipe is that these little cakes may be served warm–Nimai, Katrina, Selena, and I loved snacking on them before taking the rainy drive back to Brooklyn.

Mini Apple Upside-Down Cakes {Vegan}Mini Apple Upside-Down Cakes {Vegan}Make a little time to bake these Mini Apple Upside-Down Cakes this fall! And let Nimai and me know if you try this recipe: @nimailarson and @e2bakesbrooklyn on Instagram 💗Mini Apple Upside-Down Cakes {Vegan}

Mini Apple Upside-Down Cakes {Vegan}
makes 10-12 mini loaf cakes

For the pan:
1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Apple Layer:
1 sweet apple, 1/4-inch slices
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of ground allspice
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Cake Batter:
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed or chia
6 tablespoons water
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh-pressed apple cider
1/2 cup soy or almond milk

Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl, whisk together oil and flour. Use a pastry brush to brush the inside of an 8-loaf mini-loaf pan. Set aside.

Make the apple layer. Combine apple slices and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl, and cover with cold water. Set aside.

Combine Earth Balance, sugar, and maple syrup in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until no longer grainy (3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. Divide caramel among loaf pans (about 1 1/2 tablespoons each), and spread to cover the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

Make the cake. In a small bowl, whisk together flaxseed and water. Set aside for at least five minutes, until thickened.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat Earth Balance until light and fluffy. Mix in sugar and maple syrup, followed by flaxseed mixture, vanilla, apple cider, and non-dairy milk. Whisk in dry ingredients until incorporated.

Drain apple slices and blot dry with paper towels. Lay 3-4 slices into each mini loaf (it’s okay if they overlap a bit). Fill 2/3 full with cake batter. Bake 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let sit 15 minutes. Run a small, thin knife around the edges of each mini-loaf before inverting onto a large pan. Repeat baking process with any remaining batter.

Enjoy cakes warm or at room temperature.

Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cake

 Everyone has their go-to dessert–that thing they make when a friend has a baby or they’re asked to bring dessert for a dinner party. For my mom, it’s angel food cake with fresh blueberries and whipped cream. For my grandmother, Mame, it was a cherry-pineapple dump cake, which she called “Simply Delicious,” because who wants to eat something called dump cake?! 

My go-to? This Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cake. Now, the words “vanilla bean” and “ricotta” make it sound fancy, but it’s not–it’s basically pound cake. There’s no frosting or layering because this cake simply doesn’t need that kind of adornment. It’s easy to put together and bakes up super dense and moist, with tons of vanilla bean flavor.

For those of you who aren’t much for ricotta in other applications, you should know that I’m not either. Ricotta cheese doesn’t belong in my lasagna, on my toast, or anywhere else…except this cake. The milky flavor and grainy texture that turn me off in savory foods are what make this cake so insanely moist and delicious. The cheese melds so well into the simple batter, it’ll turn even the staunchest of ricotta-haters. If you really don’t want to use the stuff, you may substitute an equal volume of full-fat sour cream.
 This recipe makes a small loaf cake. It will not rise above the top of the pan. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in versatility. Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cake is buttery and moist with a distinct vanilla flavor. It’s the kind of cake that’s fantastic by itself with a cup of coffee or tea, but it is a wonderful base for pretty much any toppings you can think of! Mix up a quick vanilla glaze (like the one used here) and drizzle it over the top of the cooled cake before slicing. Top slices with fresh strawberries and whipped cream for a sort of makeshift strawberry shortcake. Use it in trifles or ice cream cakes. Seriously, this cake is good with just about anything. 

This weekend, I’m going to serve Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cake with Blueberry Compote. I just love the look of the berries on the sliced cake, and the blueberry-lemon flavor goes so well with the vanilla bean! Make it this Memorial Day Weekend and enjoy it with your family and friends. Maybe it’ll become your go-to dessert, too 😊 

 Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cake
makes one 9×5″ loaf, about 8-12 servings

For the pan:
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)

Cake:
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste**
4 ounces (1/2 cup) full-fat ricotta cheese, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the pan. Mix together flour and neutral-flavored oil. Use a pastry brush to paint mixture over the entire inside of the pan. Pour out any excess. Set aside.

Make the batter. In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Beat in vanilla bean paste, followed by ricotta. Add dry ingredients in two installments, combining completely after each addition.

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any air bubbles. Bake 35-40 minutes, tenting with foil if it starts to brown too quickly. Cake is done when it’s golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with only a few moist crumbs.

Let cake cool in the pan for ten minutes. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan to release the cake. Invert it onto a cooling rack, and then revert. Let cool completely.

Cake will keep at room temperature for up to three days, and in the refrigerator for up to five.

Notes:


1. I use Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste.
2. If you don’t have or don’t want to use vanilla bean paste, you may use an equal volume of pure vanilla extract, or the scraped seeds of one vanilla bean + 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.