amy chaplin

celebrating the art of eating well

Apricot coconut upside down cake with cardamom

POSTED ON August 2, 2015

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If you’ve read the tart section in my book, you’ll know that tarts are my favorite go-to summery dessert. With a virtually fool proof equation: crisp and nutty crust + succulent fruit to fill = delicious, tarts are hard to get wrong. However, the other day at the farmer’s market on a quest for dessert ingredients, I spied these sweet little apricots which are the perfect sized fruit to pack into a pan for an upside down cake. I haven’t made a cake like this since my days as a pastry chef at Angelica Kitchen. Upside down cakes are a great option for using up lots of stone fruit—which we often had in abundance this time of year. Plus, whipping up a batter for multiple upside down cakes is much faster than rolling pie dough—especially when you need to make 15 and you’re running late! I discovered that when making upside down cakes it’s best to use a thick-ish vegan batter; not one that will run through the topping and cover parts of the fruit when you flip it. I also found that keeping the quantity of batter low was good for the perfect fruit to cake ratio—not sure about you, but I want more baked fruit than cake. This also means that the cake will bake in under an hour, which prevents the fruit from turning to compote before the batter is done.

For this cake I decided on a coconut batter spiked with lots of freshly ground, fragrant cardamom. Using large flaked coconut (that’s first ground in a food processor) means that it’s moist and has a bit of texture, as the coconut doesn’t grind completely fine. The coconut also thickens the batter just enough to sit nicely on the fruit. Sweetened with maple syrup, the flavors are irresistible against the tangy, soft baked apricots and the heady aroma of cardamom.

Ok, all good, but what really takes the flavors over the edge and makes it near impossible to stop eating is pairing it with a good coconut yogurt. If you live in New York you will have access to Anita’s Coconut Yogurt, which is a game changer when it comes to vegan yogurt. It is made with coconut milk that has zero additives and is made with nothing else but cultures, no sweeteners or thickeners—it’s like eating Greek yogurt but better! If you do eat dairy a good quality Greek yogurt would also be delicious.

A note about making it gluten free: I use whole grain spelt flour here; sprouted if I have it. You could swap out the spelt for a combination of oat, buckwheat and/or millet flour. Be aware that since its vegan and made with lots of coconut and some almond meal, it’s already delicate and may become crumbly without the structure provided by the gluten. Please let me know if you try it!

Happy summer baking!

Amy x

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Apricot upside down cake with cardamom and maple

For the best results grind your own cardamom by adding about a tablespoon of cardamom pods to an electric spice grinder. Grind until fine and sift through a strainer before measuring.

This cake could also be made with peaches, nectarines or plums—get a firm fleshed plum variety though as the really juicy kinds will, with all the extra liquid, prevent the batter from baking.

Makes 1 9-inch cake

18-20 small ( 1-quart) apricots, halved and pitted

3 cups large flaked dried unsweetened coconut

1 ¼ cup whole spelt flour, divided

1 ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

¾ teaspoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon baking soda

½ cup almond meal

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds, preferable golden flax

¼ cup water

¾ cup maple syrup, plus 1 tablespoon for pan

¼ cup melted extra virgin coconut oil, plus 1 tablespoon for pan

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons raw apple cider vinegar

¼ teaspoon sea salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line the bottom of a spring form pan with parchment paper—do this by flipping the base over and placing a larger square piece of parchment on top of it. Attach the sides, keeping the paper flush against the base. Turn it upside down and fold paper into the center.

Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and use your hands to spread it over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Add 1 tablespoon maple syrup and spread it over the bottom of the pan. Arrange apricots in circles, cut side down on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

Add coconut to a food processor and add a handful of the spelt flour. Blend until coarsely ground and set aside. Sift remaining spelt flour, cardamom, baking powder and baking soda into a medium bowl. Add almond meal, and ground coconut, stir to combine and set aside.

In another bowl whisk together flax seeds and water then add maple syrup, oil, vanilla, vinegar and salt, and whisk again. Pour into dry mixture and stir until just combined. Pour over apricots and gently spread batter evenly over the fruit. Place cake on baking sheet and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for an hour before running a knife around the edges of the pan and removing the sides. Place a cake plate over the top of the cake and swiftly flip it over. Remove the cake pan base; carefully peel off the parchment paper and serve.


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  • Jessica says:

    I love apricot desserts, your cake is beautiful! My former go-to was a Patricia Wells apricot & lavender tart, but now that I’m fully plant based & gf, that tart won’t be my go-to. Have you tested this recipe with a gluten-free flour??? I hope it would work well, please comment on substituting gf flour in this recipe. Thanks!

    • Amy Chaplin says:

      Hi jessica
      I added a note about using gluten free flours in the post and made suggestions. I haven’t made it without spelt but love to hear it goes!
      The Patricia Wells tart sounds so good!
      Amy x

      • Jessica says:

        Amy, thanks for adding some info about substituting gf flour, and thanks to Gluten Free Babe for the advice, too. If you want a peek at the Patricia Wells apricot tart, it’s called “Verlet’s Apricot Tart”, it’s easy to find online. I will get some fresh apricots at the farmer’s market this week and give your cake a try, will report back. Thanks again!

  • Blaine says:

    This looks so scrumptious, Amy! I’m thinking of doing a plum version of this, yum.

    I tried Anita’s yogurt last week for the first time and was in heaven! Isn’t it the coolest that we can buy a truly healthy “treat” like this without having to make it at home? Exciting times…. 😉

  • cheri says:

    Thank you Amy, this is on my to do list.

  • Michal says:

    Amazing! I’m also thinking of doing a plum or a nectarine version of this as there are no longer apricots around here in Israel…

  • I have your wonderful cookbook so I do know how much you love tarts. What’s not to love when you make them as decadent and whole as you do. But I’m really excited about this upside down cake and appreciate how quickly it comes together. Making this soon, maybe for my husband’s and my anniversary. 🙂

    • Amy, making this for a dinner party on Friday night. Is this best made the day of, or would it hold well if made the day before? Also, if I use nectarines or peaches would you suggest slices rather than halves since they’re quite a bit larger and might not get baked through all the way? Thank you!!

      • Amy Chaplin says:

        Hi Katie,

        Sorry I’m just seeing this now….yes I think its ok a day ahead. If the peaches or nectarines are large I would cut them in 1/4’s.
        Hope you have a great dinner!

        Amy x

        • Thanks for your response Amy. Yep this was amazing! And all guests loved it so much that I don’t have as much left over as I would have liked. 😉 Ended up making it the day of but mixed the dry ingredients ahead so it was super easy to put together last minute. Loved the cardamom, the proportion of cake to fruit as you pointed out, and especially appreciated the crumb and structure of the cake. Such a thoughtful recipe. Thanks for another winner Amy!

  • Natalia says:

    I have never used apricots in a cake, but can’t wait to try this one! I already tried several dessert recipes of your book and love it so much! Thanks, Amy!

  • This look amazing. I love all the tarts in your book. I can’t wait to make this one. I appreciate the tips for trying it Gluten Free. My husband cannot tolerate the sprouted spelt flour. So I will let you know how it goes when I make it. Also – I picked up Anita’s coconut yogurt the other day and was considering it! So happy to hear it’s good – and good for you! I will try it.

  • Sylvia Bakes says:

    Amy, thanks for this new cake! I have all the ingredients except I only have 3 medium size apricots and was wondering if I were to slice them instead of half them, would they come out too dry?
    By the way, I bought your book just the other day and my husband and I are loving your recipes! Especially the fettuccini with kale!

  • This is such a photogenic tart!! I’ve been eating a lot of almond-milk yogurt lately and I bet that would taste fantastic with this tart as well 🙂

  • Nancy says:

    I know you like cardamom too!

  • Rosalia says:

    Hi Amy,
    Thank you for the recipe, I also have your book and enjoy it very much.
    I didn’t have apricots for this recipe so I used fresh sliced pineapple and it was loved by everyone :).
    Thanks again!

  • Valentina says:

    Amy, this cake is so delicious, and has such wonderful flavours in it. a mouthfull was this little explosion in my mouth. Thank you for sharing such fabulous recipe..

  • Tara says:

    Used this for the going away cake for my niece’s moving to Santa Monica party, everyone loved it!

  • Tara says:

    Celiney’s eldest Blossom whose also a vegan now is moving!
    Will look it up, but do you have any recommendations for Strawberries as we are bursting with them in Australia at the moment, and I have another birthday for a Vegan niece coming up am hoping to do a yummy dessert for her…Thanks for your inspiring blog and fb page, always puts a smile on my face!

  • Raquel says:

    Looks amazing! Any suggestion to replace almond meal (for a boyfriend thats allergic to nuts)?

    • Amy Chaplin says:

      Hi Raquel,

      Sorry I missed this when it came in (saw your other note!) Have you use Tiger nut flour? It’s actually not a nut but a tuber vegetable. I wrote a post about making tiger nut milk. I think it would make a great almond meal replacement. Let me know if you try it!

      Amy x

  • Team Goodman says:

    Hi Amy, pears are in season herein the U.K. And our daughter turns three this weekend and has requested “a pear cake”. I’m going to attempt this recipe but using pears! I’ll report back but any advice or tips if relevant would be super. As ever we adore your blog and creativity. Many thanks!

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