Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Upside of Outside

I woke up yesterday morning to a rather dreary scene outside.


While I know we (and the gardens and lawns) needed the rain, the grey, damp clamminess of it all really puts a damper on any inertia you may have had before peering outside. It’s hard to get excited about the day when you can’t enjoy it to it’s fullest, especially in the case of the summer where we wait so long for the sunshine and warmth to thaw our frozen toes (or maybe that’s just me... but this is my post so I’m claiming the rest of the year is too cold!). It was even that kind of day where the blahness of it all was putting a damper on my yearning to bake... but if life’s taught me anything, the best way to fight that feeling is to face it head on!

I had a carton of soymilk taking up space in the fridge, and since I don’t drink it myself (I was using it for recipe testing for my upcoming NEW-trition cookbooks) I was looking for ways to use it up before it went off. I can’t even remember what I was Googling at 8:30AM yesterday, but I came across a Project Pastry Queen submission by Tara (of Smells Like Home) where she made a blueberry upside-down cake with buttermilk, reminiscent of a recent Blackberry Buttermilk Cake recipe from Bon Appetit. Looking at the BA recipe, I was intrigued by the whole concept – but like almost all cakes out there (especially in the “foodie” magazines) it was packed with white flour, butter, sugar and eggs. Hm. Well, that I could fix.

Canola oil replaced a good deal of the butter, while I added some extra “oomph” with a touch of toasted sesame oil and melted Earth Balance. A few spoonfuls of applesauce added extra moisture too, so that was that department taken care of. For the eggs, two of my standbys – ground flaxseed and ener-G egg replacer stood in for the three that the original recipe called for, and soy milk and a touch of lemon juice created “buttermilk”. Then I ixnayed the bulk of the “white” flour for a mixture of 12-grain and spelt, added even more texture with whole flaxseeds and lent the otherwise bland cake batter a kiss of flavour with the zest of a whole lemon and a few spices. The only thing left was to address the sugar level. Firstly, I cut way down on the sweet taste in general – I (and most of those I’ve talked to) think the majority of desserts and sweet recipes out there are way too sweet. Then, in place of just white granulated sugar I used the vastly more flavourful Demerara to play off the rich grain and oil flavours, and used a bit of stevia extract to reduce the added sugar even more.

Into the pan and oven it went, and literally as I closed the oven door I realized one very, very important rule for baking cakes. Can you guess what it was? I, baker of all things yummy, forgot to grease the sides of the springform. Yes, I know. Thankfully I had lined the bottom with greased parchment, but I spent the whole hour and a half bake time fretting and praying that the sharp knife-around-the-edge tip given in the magazine would work wonders. And as you can see – there was a grand success! I would never suggest doing anything but a springform pan and greased parchment for the bottom of this cake – the risk of it falling apart on itself is far too high. As long as your pan is either non-stick or used enough that it’s got the natural patina coating on it, you can get away with forgetting like I did. But really, if you remember... be safe rather than sorry.


Shall I get you a fork?

The one thing the day was perfect for was a movie – my sister and I had plans to see Horrible Bosses in the afternoon and we both agreed it was the perfect escape from the doldrums outside. Who knew a “guy movie” and some “sister time” would brighten up such a blue-grey day?

Downside Up Blueberry Cake
Inspired by Tara at Smells Like Home
Serves 12
10 oz fresh or frozen blueberries
¼ cup ground flaxseed
½ cup hot soy milk
2 tsp ener-G egg replacer powder
¼ cup cold water
1 cup flour
2/3 cup spelt flour
2/3 cup 12-grain flour
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ginger
1/3 cup whole flaxseed
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil
½ tbsp toasted sesame oil
3 tbsp applesauce
2 tbsp melted vegan margarine
¼ cup sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ tsp stevia extract powder
1 tbsp vanilla
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup soymilk
1 tsp rice vinegar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, grease a 9” springform pan and line the bottom with parchment.
  2. Spread blueberries in a single layer on the bottom of pan. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl or cup, whisk together the flaxseed and hot soymilk. Set aside.
  4. In another small bowl or cup, whisk together egg replacer powder and cold water. Set aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, nutmeg, ginger, whole flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, beat together canola and sesame oils, applesauce, melted margarine, sugars, stevia, vanilla and lemon zest.
  7. Add flaxseed and egg replacer mixtures, blend in well.
  8. Combine the soymilk and vinegar in a small bowl.
  9. Beginning and ending with the dry mixture, alternate additions of flour and soymilk mixtures to the blended mixture.
  10. Pour the batter over the berries in pan and smooth the top.
  11. Bake 1 ½ hours, until cake springs back when pressed gently, and tests done with a toothpick.
  12. Cool in the pan 15 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan and remove sides.
  13. Invert cake onto a rack, peel off parchment and cool completely.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 266.9
Total Fat: 11.4 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 43.3 mg
Total Carbs: 41.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.9 g
Protein: 5.5 g