Zinester’s Guide to NYC Author Ayun Halliday’s Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Zinemaker Karla Keffer recently veganized a recipe from East Village Inky/Zinester’s Guide to NYC author Ayun Halliday. As big fans of vegan cooking and all-things-Ayun, we asked Karla if we could post it on our blog. The results are below. Oh, and keep an eye out for Karla’s vegan bake zine, which she says will be finished around the 2012 elections. Without further adieu…


Ayun Halliday’s Crayunberry Upside Down Cake

Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the zine The East Village Inky, the Mother Superior columnist for BUST Magazine, and the author of five pee-in-your-pants hilarious books (The Big Rumpus, No Touch Monkey! And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late, Job Hopper: Confessions of a Down-Market Dilettante, Dirty Sugar Cookies: Culinary Observations, Questionable Taste, and Always Lots of Heinies at the Zoo) with one on the way (Peanut, to be released in spring 2012). She is also a pal and an inspiration and a formidable online Scrabble opponent. This recipe is a vegan reinterpretation of her cranberry upside-down cake (you can find the carnivorous version at Ayun’s food blog, DirtySugarCookies.blogspot.com), which is a reinterpretation of a recipe from her high school’s cookbook, and I am fairly sure that recipe is a version of someone else’s cranberry upside-down cake recipe, so who knows how many times this recipe has changed hands. How unsanitary! Okay, iss joke, ja. But really, you should wash your hands before baking anything, especially if you too are a resident of the fair city of Brooklyn, NY, because that oven can only do so much on the germ front.

You will need:

1 teaspoon plus ½ cup canola oil or other light vegetable oil

2 cups fresh cranberries

½ cup plus one cup of regular ol’ white sugar, sugar in the raw, or succanat. You can use Stevia, too, if you so desire; alas, I can but vouch for the deliciousness of the first three.

¼ cup shelled walnuts or pecans

½ cup extra firm silken tofu, blended with ¼ cup water*

A sprinkling of powdered sugar

Vegan sour cream (to taste)

A 9-inch springform pan (for baking, not ingesting)

And now, let’s begin…

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a teaspoon of canola oil and sprinkle a handful of flour on top of that.

3. Give two cups of cranberries a tad-more-than-cursory rinse, shake and/or pat them dry(ish), and plunk them – with feeling! – into the bakeware.

4. Sprinkle a half cup sugar over the cranberries.  If the sugar doesn’t cover them all, give the pan a jiggle and/or roll the cranberries around until they’re all nice and sugar coated.

5. Measure out ¼ cup of walnuts or pecans, crush them in your paws, and then sprinkle them over the berries. You can save yourself some time and effort by purchasing pre-crushed nuts (ow), but then you’ll miss out on the therapeutic quality of squashing walnuts in your hands and pretending they’re your evil ex (or that you’re Rhett Butler in the infamous dining room scene in Gone with the Wind – you know, “I’ll smash your skull between them like a walnut, and that will block him out.”)

6. If you bought pre-crushed walnuts, you can get your ya-yas out by squeezing that tofu out of its box and into the blender and pureeing the ever-loving fuck out of it with ¼ cup water .  Now take a deep, cleansing breath and pour the mixture into a bowl or saucepan. Add one cup sugar, one cup flour, and ½ cup canola oil. Mix well and prosper.

7. Spread the batter over the sugar-berry-nut mixture so it’s all nice and covered. Pop it in the oven and bake for 55 minutes or until the top is golden and a fork inserted into the center comes out clean (except maybe for some rogue cranberry juice).

8.  Sprinkle some powdered sugar across the top. Serve with a dollop of vegan sour cream**. C’est un fait accompli!


*If you can’t find, or if you prefer not to use, the tofu, you can use one very ripe, very well-mashed banana or ½ cup soy, rice, or coconut yogurt. If you go with the banana, you’ll need to add ½ cup water to the batter, and you will very much definitely taste it in the finished product. I happen to like a nice strong banana flavor, but if you want the full tang of the cranberries, use the tofu or yogurt option. The cranberries also rise better because the batter isn’t as thick.

**Available at most health food stores or from CosmosVeganShoppe.com or other friendly vegan e-tailer.