Thursday, 14 August 2014

Savoury Summer Upside Down Cake - gluten free

Savoury cake is perhaps an unusual concept. Think 'cake' and it conjures sweet, spongy, iced and fruity images. But it doesn't have to be so......

This month, Ness over at Jibber Jabber has asked us to make cake in savoury form as entries for August's Love Cake. I have not had that much baking time this month on account of holidays and family stuff, but when I saw this challenge, it was one I just had to embrace.

Think savoury cake and the first thing to come to mind may well be savoury muffins. That was my first thought, but it only lasted fleetingly..... Then I thought..... 'no...... I want a big cake....... one that is summery and fancy and mimics all the prettiness of a decadent sweet sponge'.

Several restless nights later, mulling over every possible option from layered vegetable cakes to weird combinations of cheesy-savoury toppings and I came up with this...... an upside down savoury cake!

The next dilemma was what to do for the sponge 'base' and what veg to use which would be both attractive and succulent, without 'mushing' the sponge. In the end, I settled for making a cheesy-polenta sponge as I thought this would be firm and dense enough, whilst still being fluffy and cake-like. Some grated courgette has been added to keep it moist and to give additional texture and colour. The yellow courgette came from the garden, but green would be equally good. Wanting to make the cake mediterranean, the sponge also contains a sprinkling of fresh oregano and basil.

The 'upside down' base is just beautiful...... vibrant in colour and (if I say so myself) so, so pretty.  It sings summer, warmth and all that is good for you. Sweet yellow and orange peppers which have been roasted to intensify their flavour, mingle with equally yellow sweetcorn and savoury purple olives, all sunk into rich red roasted home-grown cherry tomatoes. The sponge is slightly cheesy with a soft, creamy but fluffy texture. The polenta gives it a slightly firmer bite, but the cake is none-the-less light for that.

I wanted the roasted tomatoes to become a seamless part of the cake when it was inverted, but was worried that they might seep excessively into the sponge and give it a soggy top. Carefully draining them before placing in the cake tin seems to have averted this outcome, thank goodness. If there's one thing as bad as a 'soggy bottom', it's a 'soggy top'.

This has to be the healthiest cake I have ever made. It is a fantastic alternative to dishes like pizza, yet is perfectly delicious either hot or cold. That makes it ideal picnic and packed lunch fodder and a great alternative to sandwiches.

Although this one is made with summer roasted vegetables, you could substitute these with pretty much anything. I made my daughter a bacon, sweetcorn and cheese version to take to lunch, which she loved and I felt all the more chuffed that she was also eating those hidden courgettes!

I also made some extra mini loaves without the 'upside down' bit, as the batter didn't all fit in the tin (you could probably make two-thirds of the quantity below to make just the one cake). This was a wise move. This sponge would make the most amazing gluten free savoury muffins (yet another project!) and would take a whole range of substitutions and flavour combinations.

So Ness.......... Challenge complete........ Here is my gluten free Savoury Summer (Roasted Veg) Upside Down Cake. Love cake? You'll Love this!

I am also sending it over to Caroline Makes (and The More Than Occasional Baker) as my second entry to August's Alphabakes, the letter for the month being P.  This cake is made with a delicious Polenta sponge and is smothered in sweet roasted Peppers......

Next up is Four Seasons Food with Anneli at Delicieux (and Lou at Eat Your Veg). This month has gone 'Tomato Crazy'....... well it certainly has in my garden and we have them coming out of our ears. The tomatoes on the upside down base of this cake are rich, deep and sweet in flavour from the roasting and are all home-grown.

I am packing up a special picnic hamper to send to Karen at Lavender & Lovage for August's Tea Time Treats (hosted jointly with Janie at The Hedge Combers), who invites us to join in with Picnic Food & Picnic Treats. This cake would be perfect for any picnic and is as delicious as it is unusual.

I am also sending to Karen's other challenge - Cooking With Herbs, on account of the wonderful fresh oregano and basil incorporated into the sponge, which adds to the summeriness and flavours of the Med.

Almost there................ A couple of slices left............. And one of them is off to Elizabeth at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary for Simple and in Season. Elizabeth is hosting on behalf of Ren from Ren Behan to make sure she spends as much time with her new baby as she can........ This cake contains a basket of seasonal veg........... Tomatoes, courgettes and sweetcorn from the garden, beautiful peppers, summery olives and fresh herbs.

And finally....... I'm hoping there's just enough left for Shaheen at Allotment to Kitchen for her Vegetable Palette. August's theme is Mellow Yellow (& Orange). The use of yellow courgette, yellow and orange peppers and sweetcorn in this cake means that it is very yellow! Just make sure you use cheese which is vegetarian (has no rennet) to ensure a vegetarian bake.

Wow.... that's a lot of challenges! And here it is.............

Savoury Summer Upside Down Cake (makes 1 x 9 inch cake and 6 mini loaves/muffins)


400g cherry tomatoes - halved 
150g yellow and orange peppers (I used sweet mini peppers)
salt and olive oil for roasting the veg
handful of olives - sliced
handful sweetcorn kernals

160g plain gluten free flour mix (I used blend A from this post)
160g fine-ground polenta
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
ground black pepper (to taste)
2 teaspoons fresh oregano - finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon fresh basil - finely chopped (or 1½ teaspoons dried)
130g mature cheddar (grated) or another equivalent hard cheese/vegetarian cheese
3 large eggs
90 ml olive oil
150 ml plain yoghurt
130 ml milk
1 medium courgette - grated


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220 C/425 F/Gas 7. Either base line (with baking paper) a 9 inch cake tin (square or round) or I used a silicone cake mould.
  2. Roast the tomatoes and peppers (separately) in roasting dishes in the oven with a sprinkling of salt and a drizzle of olive oil, stirring intermittently, for 30 to 40 minutes or until the peppers and tomatoes begin to char slightly on the edges. Remove from the oven, set aside and cool slightly whilst you make the cake batter.
  3. Turn the oven down to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  4. Weigh and mix together the flour, polenta, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and pepper, making sure any lumps are completely broken down.
  5. Add the herbs and cheese and stir through.
  6. Beat the eggs, oil, yoghurt and milk together until light, airy and evenly blended.
  7. Add the grated courgette and fold to combine.
  8. Add the dry ingredients and fold until evenly mixed.
  9. Arrange the vegetables on the base of the cake tin - olives and sweetcorn, followed by peppers.
  10. Lastly, drain the excess juice from the roasted tomatoes, before also placing them in the base of the tin. 
  11. Spoon the cake batter on top of the vegetables and smooth the top. (Place any excess batter in muffin cases, or make a smaller additional loaf).
  12. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (15-20 minutes for small loaves/muffins) until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before turning onto a plate (or wire rack for muffin sponges). Serve warm or cold.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated


  1. Wow just wow. That is an amazing looking cake - so beautiful with such vibrant colours and flavours. I am really impressed with your idea which is absolutely brilliant. I really wish I could have a slice so I will just have to make it myself soon. Thanks for entering Alphabakes and well done on all the multiple challenge entry :)

    1. Thanks Ros..... It was one of those inspirational moments which just worked! I will be making this on a regular basis. It went down a storm in our house!

  2. OMG, love it love it love it. I am so gonna make this (perhaps with a different topping) but still gonna bookmark to make. So gorgeous. I agreee, great alternative to pizza and much more healthier too. Thans for sharing #VegetablePalette

    1. You're welcome Shaheen and thank you! I have so many plans for adaptations on this one........ Let me know how it goes for you!

  3. Wow, you've managed to squeeze it in to SO many challenges! I think you deserve a medal to have got in so many :)
    PS it looks delish, really moist & yummy.
    Janie x

    1. Ha! Definitely more luck than judgement Janie. Somehow, it just seemed to fit a whole bunch of them.... which is great as I have had less time this month!

  4. Looks delicious. Looks like a cross between cake, pizza and scone. Would love to try it. I've seen savoury cakes in France, but you never seen them over here. Love it allows you to eat cake for lunch :)

    1. Thanks Katie. You must try this! It was so delicious and there are so many variations to try. Eating cake for lunch is quite amusing too!

  5. What a fantastic idea, I've never seen anything like this before. It would be great for sharing on a picnic! Thanks for entering Alphabakes.

    1. I couldn't find anything like it on the internet either. But it was so good it needed to be shared! And yes.... perfect for a picnic!

  6. I LOVE recipes like this Kate as I am a savoury head! I LOVE the topping and also your mix of ingredients - this is such a great recipe! Karen

    1. Thank you Karen. I was pretty pleased with myself for coming up with it... But it's always great when someone else likes it too! Your comments are much appreciated!

  7. I really love this. It's such an inspired choice to use polenta and turn it upside down. The topping is just so pretty. Challenge complete!

    1. Thanks Ness..... Challenge complete! Thanks for inspiring me!!

  8. I am seriously impressed by this recipe! Well done! I would like a great big slice of this just now please :) Thank you for sharing with Simple and in Season

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. I was really pleased with it!


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