From where I sit, the bedroom curtain is half drawn. The window faces the front porch and yard where a leafless slumped cherry tree is wrapped in sunlight. When did the last crinkled leaf fall?
Likely it was sometime between reading novels, pre- and actual-baby bouncing, and baking multiple upside-down cakes — when summer unraveled into fall and soon-to-be winter. I remind myself to see and breathe in this.
Cold morning. Cinnamon Cashew Oats. Salt speckles. Coffee-less mug. Baby snorts. J. S. Bach or some other Baroque composer. Unhinged front door. Half-shot film roll. Thoughts on creative seeds. Milk in one hand. Words in another.
In and out. Sun. Yellow. Cake dotted red.
Apple Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
makes 10 servings
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegan butter, softened
2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup fresh orange juice, divided
2 large apples (about 3/4 pound), peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch slices
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup almond flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ cup vegan butter, softened
1 cup natural cane sugar
½ cup thick applesauce, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup soy milk + ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, at room temperature
whipped coconut cream for garnish
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Heat brown sugar, 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons orange juice in a large (12-inch) cast-iron skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter melts and the mixture starts to bubble. Let cool. Coat the sides of the skillet with oil or cooking spray.
Bring the remaining ¼ cup orange juice, apples, and cranberries to a simmer in a medium saucepan, stirring often, until about half the cranberries have popped and the apple slices are soft. Let cool to the touch then arrange the apple slices into a circular pattern (with the cranberries dotted throughout for color) over the cooled brown sugar mixture in the skillet.
Whisk all-purpose flour, almond flour, and baking powder in a medium bowl.
In another bowl, mix the ½ cup softened vegan butter, cane sugar, applesauce, vanilla, and soy milk mixture together with a wooden spoon or hand mixer until well combined.
Add in the dry ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon just until the flour is incorporated.
Spread the batter over the cranberries in the skillet.
Bake until the top is golden brown and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and carefully invert the cake onto a serving plate. Serve with a spoon of whipped coconut cream.
Whipped Coconut Cream
makes about 1 cup
One 15-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons natural cane sugar or maple syrup, or to taste
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, or to taste
Place the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the can from the refrigerator without shaking it (by refrigerating the can the coconut milk separates and the cream floats to the top while the water remains at the bottom of the can).
Open the can of coconut milk. The solid cloud-like layer on top is the cream (beneath the cream is the water). Scoop the cream into a bowl, stopping when you reach the coconut water (save the water for smoothies).
Using a stand or handheld mixer, whip the coconut cream on high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until the coconut cream forms soft peaks and is light and fluffy. Mix in the sugar and vanilla, if using.