May 14, 2014

Vegetable Upside Down Cake

upside down veggie cake

It’s getting to be that time of year where the upside down cakes are starting to make appearances. My grandmother used to make a pineapple upside down cake that my Mom talks about all the time. They seem so easy to put together but I always get so anxious when it’s time to do the big flip to see if everything comes out of the pan. My second concern is then what it’s going to look like. Is it going to come out a big blob or is it actually going to look presentable and like a cake?! So many worries! Well I took my first venture in the upside down cake world and switched out the fruit for veggies. My Mom sent me this recipe a few months back and I loved it immediately! First of all, bread is a main component here so I was hooked by that already and it was chock full of veggies and fresh herbs, which my Mom knows is my favorite kind of meal. This recipe does require a couple of steps between getting the veggies prepared and making the corn bread batter, BUT it’s totally worth it! And after tasting delicious, the best part is that it completely got rid of my upside down cake worries! I’ve made this a handful of times now and not once has it caused me problems, gotten stuck or come out looking like anything other than an upside down veggie cake!

Here’s what you need:


(Makes one 9 x 9 inch square veggie cake)


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

Cornbread Base (Cake)

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup corn meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoon fresh dill
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F and spray a 9 x 9 inch square baking dish with cooking spray.

Start by chopping up and preparing all the veggies.

veggie cake-chopped veggies

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add in all of the veggies except the garlic. If you add the garlic right away it will start to burn well before the rest of the veggies are done. Add in some salt and pepper. Let the veggies cook for about 10 minutes but keep an eye on them so you don’t cook everything to the point where it looses flavor. You want there to be color left and the veggies should not be limp. At the very end, add in the minced garlic and let cook for another 30 seconds.

veggie cake- veggies

While the veggies cook, grate the cheese and start working on the cornbread batter. For the cornbread, mix the wet ingredients (milk, eggs and melted butter) in a large bowl. Make sure the egg is completely broken up and mixed with the butter and buttermilk.

veggie cake-crust batter

To the wet ingredients, add the salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and herbs and continue to give everything a good mix. I like to add these ingredients before the flour when things begin to thicken up. Lastly, add in the cornmeal and flour and mix until everything is completely combined.

veggie cake - dough

At this point, your veggies should be done and you have your cornbread batter mixed. You are ready to assemble! Pour the veggies into the prepared baking dish and make sure to cover all the corners of the pan.

veggie cake - cake assembled

Sprinkle the cheese on top of the veggie layer.

veggie cake prebaked

Lastly, pour the cornbread batter on top and spread the batter so that you cover all of the cheese and veggies. I find it easiest to use a spatula for this part.

veggie cake - dough prebaked

Let the cake cook in the oven for 40 minutes. Just like cooking regular cake or bread, the edges will start to brown and the top will start to crackle and you know that it’s done or almost done!

veggie cake - dough baked

Once you take it out, let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Being the worrier that I am about upside down cakes, I waited closer to 10 minutes before I made the big flip! During this waiting time, I put together a salad to go along with the veggie cake.

And then comes the flip!! You can use a plate if you have one that covers the pan or you can use a baking sheet and place it on top of the pan with the veggie cake. On the count of three, flip! It should come out easily and when you pull the baking dish off, your cake should hold its form!

veggie cake cooked 1

If serving for the main dish, quarter the cake or cut smaller if you need to. By making this upside down style, the veggies don’t make a soggy crust bottom and you’re left with the slight crunch from the corn bread with a nice flavor from the herbs. Bonus: the veggies aren’t overcooked either from getting direct heat, as they might have been had they been on top.

veggie cake cooked 2

Serve with a side salad (I went with a brussels sprout, pomegranate and walnut salad) and you’re ready for dinner.

veggie cake with brussel sprout salad

Obviously Jor and I can’t eat the entire cake by ourselves in one dinner so I’m left with great lunch leftovers! It’s just as good cold the next day! Despite my lack of upside down cake experience, I think that they are one of those classic dishes that everyone used to make. I can now see why! They really are easy, not nearly as scary as I made them out to be me with the whole flip action, and if you need a “statement” dish for guests, they are the perfect addition to your table. You could easily bake this and take it to your next outdoor get together, adding your favorite vegetables and who doesn’t like corn bread! It’s no secret that I’m a bread lover through and through but cornbread adds a whole other layer of comfort to this dish! It’s a savory twist on the upside down cake that I’m sure my grandmother would love! For now, that’s vegetable upside down cake…in the shell of a nut!


  • Wow! This sounds delicious, and looks really cool! I will have to try this.

  • Mmmmmm! I have to do a few mods to change this to vegan. But I think I know what I’ll take to my parents’ this week-end!
    Thanks for the great instructions and photos, it REALLY helps!

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