Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Original Savoury Summer Upside Down Cake - gluten free

Savoury cake may seem an unusual concept. Think 'cake' and it conjures sweet, spongy, iced and fruity images. But it doesn't have to be...... This gluten free Savoury Summer Upside Down Cake is incredible...... Easy to make, perfect for lunch, picnics and garden eating and full of the flavours of a Mediterranean summer.

I first posted the original upside down sponge three years ago when inspired by a savoury themed cake linky (Love Cake) from Ness at Jibber Jabber and although it got some attention at the time, I decided that I would revisit the recipe as it is one of my favourites and three years on, I am hoping it may reach more of my lovely readers and inspire them to enjoy it too....

I have updated the photographs (the originals were frankly dire (although I am not sure these are much better)) and have also updated, tweaked and improved the ingredients slightly..... adding some red onion, testing it with my rice-free home-mixed flour blend, and using psyllium husk instead of xanthan gum to improve the crumb and texture.

When you think savoury 'cake', the first thing that usually comes to mind is savoury muffins, but when I first developed this recipe, I absolutely wanted a big cake....... one that was summery and fancy and mimicked 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, 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 bake 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. I have made it a number of times, using either green or yellow courgette and both work equally well. Wanting the cake to ooze the flavours and scent of mediterranean warmth, it also contains a sprinkling of finely chopped fresh oregano and basil (although dried herbs are good too, if that's what you have to hand).

The 'upside down' base is just beautiful...... vibrant in colour and so, so pretty. It brings instant interest and intrigue with anyone who sees or tries it and would definitely be a prize candidate for 'showstopper' in any savoury category.

It sings summer, warmth and all that is good for you. Sweet yellow, red and orange peppers that have been roasted to intensify their flavour, mingle with equally yellow sweetcorn, caramelised roasted red onion and savoury olives, all nestled into rich red roasted home-grown cherry tomatoes. The sponge is slightly cheesy with a soft, creamy but fluffy texture. The polenta gives it greater depth and texture, but the cake is no less light for its inclusion.

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

Although this upside down cake is made with summer roasted vegetables, you could substitute these with pretty much anything. I previously made Miss GF a bacon, sweetcorn and cheese version, which went down a storm..... and knowing that she was also eating hidden courgette reassured me my parental duty was attended to.

I am sharing my updated gluten free Original Savoury Summer Upside Down Cake with :


Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching For Spice

Free From Fridays with Free From Farmhouse and Le Coin De Mel

Cook Blog Share with Everyday Healthy Recipes


Bake of the Week with Casa Costello and Mummy Mishaps

Baking Crumbs with Jo's Kitchen Larder on behalf of Only Crumbs Remain

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Savoury Summer Upside Down Cake (makes 1 x 9 inch cake)


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

160g plain gluten free flour mix (I used Gluten Free Alchemist Rice-Free Flour Blend from this post), but I have also previously made it with GFA Blend A)
160g fine-ground polenta
2 teaspoons ground psyllium husk
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
ground black pepper (to taste)
1 heaped teaspoon fresh oregano - finely chopped (or ½ teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons fresh basil - finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
130g mature cheddar (grated) or another equivalent hard cheese/vegetarian cheese
3 large eggs
90 ml olive oil
150 ml plain yoghurt
180 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 halved tomatoes, sliced onions and sliced 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 they begin to char slightly on the edges. Remove from the oven, set aside and cool 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, psyllium husk, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and pepper, making sure any lumps are completely broken down (I weigh into an airtight container and shake vigorously).
  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 and onion.
  10. Lastly, drain the excess juice from the roasted tomatoes, before also placing them in the base of the tin on top of the other veg.
  11. Spoon the cake batter on top of the vegetables and smooth the top (if you have any excess batter, use to make small muffins).
  12. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (15-20 minutes for 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 at least 15 minutes before turning onto a plate. Serve warm or cold.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-18 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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