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Peach “Downside Up” Cake

Peach “Downside Up” Cake

Sara Pinkham


  • ¼ cup vegan butter (recommend Earth Balance)

  • ½ cup brown sugar (packed)

  • 1-15 oz. canned peaches, halves or slices

  • Equivalent of 3 eggs, using Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer (3 Tbsp. egg replacer + 6 Tbsp. water thoroughly combined)

  • ½ cup peach juice (tip: use juice from can of peaches)

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  • 1½ cups flour (Lydia says to use Gold Medal Flour, but I used Early Morning Harvest general purpose flour from New Pioneer Co-op)

  • 1 tsp. baking powder

  • ½ tsp. salt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt vegan butter in a pan on low heat. Sprinkle in brown sugar and stir constantly until the butter and sugar have been fully incorporated.

Pour the vegan butter and brown sugar mixture into a well-oiled 8-inch baking dish. Arrange the peach halves or slices in rows on top of the liquid. Add as many peaches as desired. 

For reference: Lydia says 9 peach halves is 9 servings.

In a small mixing bowl, prepare the egg replacer. For the equivalent of 3 eggs, combine 3 Tbsp. egg replacer with 6 Tbsp. of water. Mix vigorously until smooth.

In a larger mixing bowl, beat the prepared egg replacer and sugar together with a mixer until smooth. Beat in the peach juice and vanilla. Mix until sugar is dissolved.

Add the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Mix. If the batter seems too thick, add more peach juice by the tablespoon until the consistency is moister.

Carefully pour the cake batter over the peaches in the baking dish.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes. Place a cake plate or platter over the baking dish, and then flip it over. The cake will drop from the baking dish onto the serving plate. Ensure the plate has enough room for roaming brown sugar sauce, as it may drip.

This cake is tastiest when enjoyed warm.


Yes, you can 'veganize' century-old recipes: Here's a 'downside up' cake without butter or eggs

Nostalgia comes in many flavors.

Sweet or savory, family recipes handed down from generation to generation are part of our identities. Holiday traditions are often nourished by memories of baking and cooking, meals being a central part of family festivities.

Favorite recipes are shared between friends and family, fond reminders of happy times. Our toothsome traditions connect us with the past and comfort us in the present.

Somewhere at the back of a kitchen cupboard, or perhaps in carefully preserved family archive, many of us are lucky enough to have a box of handwritten recipes, a vintage community cookbook, or an aging compilation of recipe clippings from magazines and newspapers of yesteryear. 

These priceless collections bring us joy and help us commune in some small way with our ancestors.

But what if you’re vegan, or have a food allergy? Luckily, almost all historic recipes can be altered.

While searching for a simple recipe to test, I stumbled upon one held in the Szathmary Culinary Manuscripts and Cookbooks Collection located in the University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections & Archives. The collection holds an impressive number of personal cookbooks, including one handwritten in the 1920s by Lydia Bauer of River Forest, Illinois. While I could not find any other information about this home chef, I did appreciate her taste in treats while reading her recipe book online in the Iowa Digital Library (

A 1920s recipe for the 2020s seemed appropriate, so I decided to veganize Lydia’s peach “downside up” cake. 

Upside down cakes rapidly gained popularity in the 1920s, particularly the version with pineapple and maraschino cherries. (Any fruit could be used, however, with peaches also ranking highly as a preferred ingredient.)

Recipes began to appear in advertisements for canned fruits and flour, and the cake was quickly established as a 20th century American dessert staple. The beloved cake continued to be a family favorite over the next few decades and became especially trendy again in the 1950s. The pineapple upside down cake was viewed as an easy, impressive-looking dessert to make for guests.

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