The original Summer Savoury Upside Down Cake recipe. Cheesy, herb-infused, gluten free courgette sponge, baked ‘upside-down’ with colourful Mediterranean vegetables. A showstopper of a savoury cake.
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The Original gluten free Summer Savoury Upside Down Cake
My Savoury Upside Down Cake is one of my proudest gluten free blog recipes. First posted in 2014, it was (at that time) the only savoury upside down cake that I could find on the internet. It was a creative moment! Innovative, original and utterly delicious.
It is also absolutely beautiful… The upside down Mediterranean vegetable base is vibrant and colourful. It brings with it instant intrigue and interest with anyone who sees or tries it. And would definitely be a prize candidate for ‘showstopper’ in any savoury category.
What is an upside down cake?
Quite simply… An upside down cake is a cake baked with a layer of ‘toppings’ arranged in a pattern at the base of the pan. The cake batter fills the pan and after baking, the cake is turned out upside down to serve… This reveals the fruit or (in this case) veg baked underneath.
Traditionally, upside down cakes have been baked sweet and with fruit… The iconic Pineapple Upside Down Cake dessert of the 1970’s perhaps being the most well-known. However, there are many variations. And at Gluten Free Alchemist, we have some utterly delicious alternatives… With our popular Cherry Upside Down Cake and Rhubarb Upside Down Cake being up there with the best. But we can also offer delicious recipes for a Mocha Pear Upside Down Cake, a Plum Upside Down Cake with Blueberries and even a vibrant Peach Melba version too.
What is a Savoury cake?
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… After all, there are plenty of savoury muffins out there. So why not make a savoury cake that is large and sharable?
As a cake batter, the principles of a savoury cake are no different to a sweet cake. The main difference is that the mix has all sugar removed. With alternative, more savoury flavours taking its place.
Making a perfect gluten free sponge for a Savoury Upside Down Cake
Developing a good sponge for a Savoury Upside Down Cake is not as straight forward as it sounds… It needs a structure that is flavoursome and moist, yet holds together well… And that is able to manage soaking up the moisture from the baking vegetables without becoming ‘mushy’.
For a more interesting texture and enough density to offer structure and support, this particular savoury sponge is made with a combination of gluten free flour and polenta (cornmeal). The addition of cheese and Mediterranean herbs (finely chopped fresh oregano and basil), along with grated courgette and a little yoghurt ensure not only depth of flavour, but also moistness and lasting softness.
It is the perfect sponge for holding and baking-in the beautiful veg that is turned out in all its glory once cooked.
Choosing the perfect Mediterranean veg to ‘top’ it
The veg criteria for making my amazing gluten free Savoury Upside Down Cake was simple… It should speak of a Mediterranean summer, look ‘fancy’ and mimic all the prettiness of its sweet fruit upside-down cousin.
The vegetables needed to be bright, succulent and juicy, but also to bake without releasing so much liquid that the sponge became ‘wet’. In the end, I chose beautiful peppers (red, yellow and orange), sweetcorn, roasted red onion and savoury olives… All nestled into rich, red, pre-roasted home-grown cherry tomatoes.
Can I vary the ‘toppings’ used for Savoury Upside Down Cake?
Absolutely, yes. It’s fine to vary the veg used and even add in a little bacon, sausage, pepperoni or fish!… But… Because this is an upside down cake, it is important to factor in the time needed to cook the veg and additions. And to take account of the liquid likely to be released.
To solve both these ‘issues’, it is worth pre-roasting the veg used and then draining any excess liquid before adding to the cake tin. And if adding meat, etc that requires lengthy cooking or might release a lot of fat, to do the same here too.
Is this gluten free Savoury Upside Down Cake healthy?
Oh yes! This is quite probably the healthiest cake I’ve ever made. It’s packed full of great stuff from a load of veggies, through to protein-packed cheese, eggs, milk and yoghurt and a balanced level of carbs and fat. It’s a meal in itself. And a fabulous alternative to other dishes you might serve at lunch, picnics, etc… Scrumptious either hot or cold.
What flour should I use to make this gluten free savoury cake?
The flour blend used to make this savoury cake is a combination of a plain gluten free flour blend and fine ground polenta (cornmeal). While it is important to use the polenta to ensure a good texture and structure that is fit for purpose, the actual flour blend is probably flexible.
I have made the cake with both my white Gluten Free Alchemist Blend A and my Rice Free Blend B. Both have worked well. So, I suspect the cake will still be good with your usual blend.
Ready to make Gluten Free Summer Savoury Upside Down Cake?
I think that’s all you need to know… If you have any other questions, just ask in the comments below.
If you do make this Savoury Upside Down Cake, I’d love to know how you got on… Leave a comment, rate the recipe and/or tag me on social media… You’ll always find me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.
And for lots of other gluten free inspiration, check out our Gluten Free Recipe Index… Everything’s in photos, so be ready to drool…
Thanks for visiting Gluten Free Alchemist. Happy Baking lovely people
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Savoury Upside Down Cake (with Mediterranean Veg)
- oven-proof dishes
- sharp vegetable knife
- 9 inch baking tin
Mediterranean Veg 'topping'
- 400 g cherry tomatoes halved
- 150 g peppers yellow, orange and red (I used sweet mini peppers) – deseeded and sliced
- 1 small red onion peeled and thinly sliced
- salt and olive oil for roasting the veg
- 4 to 5 olives green or black – pitted and sliced
- 1½ tbsp sweetcorn kernels fresh or frozen
Savoury Cake Batter
- 160 g plain gluten free flour blend Tested with both Gluten Free Alchemist White Blend A and Rice-Free Flour Blend B. See NOTES)
- 160 g fine-ground polenta cornmeal
- 1 tsp xanthan gum or 2 tsp psyllium husk
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ¾ tsp fine sea salt
- ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tsp fresh oregano (heaped) finely chopped (or ½ teaspoon dried)
- 2 tsp fresh basil finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 130 g mature Cheddar cheese grated
- 3 large eggs UK large (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’)
- 90 ml olive oil
- 150 ml plain yoghurt
- 130 ml/g milk (depending on flour blend used, this may need to be fractionally increased)
- 1 medium courgette grated and drained
Roasted Mediterranean Veg
- Pre-heat the oven to 220 C/425 F/Gas 7.
- Roast the halved tomatoes, sliced onions and sliced peppers (separately) (NOT the olives or sweetcorn) 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 while you make the cake batter.
- Turn the oven down to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Either base line (with baking paper) a 9 inch cake tin (square or round)… OR I used a silicone cake mould.
- Weigh and mix together the flour, polenta, xanthan gum (or psyllium husk), baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and pepper, making sure any lumps are completely broken down (TIP: weigh into an airtight container and shake vigorously).
- Add the herbs and cheese and stir through.
- Lightly whisk the eggs, oil, yoghurt and milk together until light, airy and evenly blended.
- Add the grated courgette and fold to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients and fold until evenly mixed.
- Arrange the vegetables on the base of the cake tin – olives and sweetcorn, followed by peppers and onion.
- 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.
- Spoon the cake batter on top of the vegetables and smooth the top (should you have any excess batter, use to make small muffins).
- 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 out 'upside down' onto a plate.
- Serve warm or cold.
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