Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cranberry Upside Down Skillet Cake (Vegan and Low Sugar)

Hello people.  How have you been?  My apologies for being so slow to add content these last few weeks.  I've been busy busy taking care of the gym, running, studying français, making my debut as a back up dancer in the Montreal Burlesque Festival (what? see photo below) and planning my wedding (it's going to be vegan, don't tell my family!).  It drives me a little crazy not to be able to work on more food projects, what with the market being in full swing and all.  But what can you do?  Seasons come and seasons go.  Part of the beauty of trying to eat locally grown produce is that you appreciate it all the more, knowing it'll only be around for a handful of months when it's at its peak.  Peaking right now?  Cranberries.  $2/pound at Jean Talon.   I had a chance to pick some up and make this cake yesterday, and couldn't be more pleased with the results.

I've actually never used fresh cranberries before.  My family was a cranberry-sauce-in-a-can kind of family.  Plop a big cylinder of canned cranberry jelly on to a plate at Thanksgiving, slice it up and call it good.  So what was I to do with these lovely cranberry gems?  Internet searches came up mostly with sugar overloads and heavy use of the usual boring cake ingredients; white flour, eggs, butter...yawn.  

So I took a recipe that I found here, and sexied it up.  The result is a slightly tart skillet cake that's easy to make, lovely to present, and can be relished in good conscience.   It uses whole wheat flour (more protein, more fibre, and less hard on the digestive tract than white flour), almond yogurt in place of eggs (no cholesterol, fair amount of calcium), stevia in place of some of the sugar, and of course, plant milk in place of sad, abusive, veal-industry supporting, mucus-filled cow milk (Sorry, have to throw those things in from time to time!).  The one thing I didn't change was the oil content.  It calls for 1/2 cup olive oil, which is quite a lot.  If you'd like to cut that down, try subbing part or all of it with a fruit puree, and let me know how it goes.


2 T Unrefined Coconut Oil
3/4 pounds fresh cranberries
 1 cup light brown sugar (divided)
1 tsp stevia powder
4 tsp lemon zest (divided)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
6 Tbsp corn meal
2/3 cup almond or soy yogurt
2/3 cup plant milk (soy / almond / hemp / etc.)
1/2 cup olive oil

  • Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Heat the coconut oil in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat and add cranberries, 1/2 cup of the sugar, 1/2 tsp of the stevia, 2 tsp of the lemon zest, and all of the lemon juice. Stir frequently until the cranberries wilt and release most of their juice - about 5 minutes.  The juices should bubble and start to thicken at around 7 minutes.   
  • Remove the now thickened berries from heat, and spread them evenly in the pan.  Allow to cool while you prepare the cake batter.
  • In a large bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the cornmeal.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, plant milk, olive oil, and remaining 2 tsp of lemon juice.   Whisk or beat with a mixer until it's a little fluffy (it won't get fluffy like it would if you were using eggs, but it seems like a good idea to try to beat a little air into it. I could be wrong :) Add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 tsp stevia and mix to combine. 
  • Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix just until the batter is smooth. 
  • Pour the batter into the cooled skillet over the cranberries and bake until done, (you know the drill - bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean)  about 30 minutes.
  • Allow to cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then place a plate over the top of the skillet and invert the plate and the skillet to get that upside down cake on your plate. Allow to cool a bit before serving.
  • Eat it for breakfast!  Eat it for dessert!  Serve it with a dollop of almond yogurt or a sprinkle of powdered sugar.  It would be great on a brunch table along side a tofu scramble.  Enjoy!

Backing up BonBon Bombay and Billy L'amore - more fun than a girl should have!

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