about me

    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

    Contact Emily

    For general inquires, contact: EmilyBMalone@gmail.com.

    For partnerships, contact: dailygarnishads@mediakix.com.

    Looking forward to chatting with you!


    What’s Cooking?

    Personal Bests

    5K - 23:28

    10K - 52:35

    15K - 1:38:14

    1/2 Marathon - 1:57:39

    Marathon - 3:50:58

    A Look Back.

Pumpkin, Fig, & Pomegranate Upside-Down Cake.

Of all the Project Food Blog challenges, I found this to be one of the most difficult.  Challenge #8 is called Piece of Cake: create a sweet or savory baked good featuring the following seasonal ingredient: pumpkin.

It seems so easy, right?  But therein lies the challenge – it’s too easy.  And let’s be honest, who wants to see another pumpkin recipe the weekend after Thanksgiving?  Not me.  So I dug deep and tried to think beyond pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread.

With Thanksgiving behind us, we are all suddenly inundated with holiday decorations, lights, and images everywhere.  Personally I welcome it with open arms – I am a total Christmas freak, and December is hands down my favorite month of the year.


And nothing gets me in the holiday spirit quite like DESSERT!  Pumpkin is not just for Thanksgiving anymore – if this doesn’t make it onto your holiday dinner party menus then you are craaaazaay…

Pumpkin, Fig, & Pomegranate Upside-Down Cake (with Pumpkin Cinnamon Spiced Vegan Ice Cream)

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  • 1 large pomegranate
  • 1 8oz (or larger) jar of fig preserves
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup Earth Balance vegan butter
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp ground flax meal
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

Don’t let the long ingredient list scare you – you probably already have over half of this list in your pantry!

To Prepare: It starts with the pomegranate – a delicious and mysterious fruit that is packed with antioxidants, and seasonally available around the holidays.  I bought two (just in case), but you only need one.

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De-seeding a pomegranate is a messy (but worth it) activity.  Start by trimming the top off and then scoring all around the outer skin (be careful not to cut all the way through).

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Then let the fruits soak in a bowl of water for about 10 minutes – this helps soften the pith and flesh, and makes it easier for the seeds to pop out nice and clean.

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When you’re ready, roll up your sleeves and dig in.  Break the poms apart and carefully pluck the seeds out into the water bowl.  In the end, the seeds will sink and the pith will float – easily separating the useable fruit from the scraps.

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Quite possibly the most gorgeous fruit of all.  I am totally in love.

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And while I wanted to simply sit and pop pomegranate seeds into my mouth all afternoon, there was cake to be baked…

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Take a 9 inch spring form pan and line it with foil.  Then using either a stick of Earth Balance or cooking spray, grease the foil to prep for baking.  Since we’re getting things ready, go ahead and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

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Onto the FOOD!&
#160; Start by adding 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, 1 cup dried cranberries, 1/3 cup Earth Balance, and the entire jar of fig jam to a sauce pot.  Figs are another one of those exotic fruits that just scream special occasion to me.

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Bring the mixture up to a boil, stirring frequently to melt the butter and combine.  Mmmmmm.

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While your mixture cooks, shake the other 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds into the bottom of the lined spring form pan.

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And once the mixture has come to a boil, carefully pour it into the base of the pan.

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Spread evenly across the bottom so that the mixture reaches all sides.  Set pan aside and pull out your cake ingredients.

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Here’s the thing about pumpkin – it doesn’t really taste like…anything.  Aside from its great nutritional qualities, pumpkin is actually kind of blah on its own.

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The key is in the SPICES.  Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and ginger – a timeless combination that makes pumpkin spring to life, and what gives this cake its wonderful spiced flavor.  Add all of the pumpkin spices, as well as flour, baking powder, and baking soda to a mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

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In a separate bowl, use a stand or hand mixer to combine 1/4 each Earth Balance butter and shortening until well combined.

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Add the granulated sugar and beat about 30 seconds.

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In the meantime, it’s time to prep two of the handy secrets (not really) to vegan baking.  In the science that is vegan baking, there are ways to substitute just about everything, including eggs and buttermilk.

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First up the “eggs” – actually a mixture of ground flax  meal and water.  Add 2 tbsp flax and 6 tbsp water to a small bowl.  Stir to combine and set aside for about 5 minutes to thicken.

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Next up, “buttermilk” – actually a mixture of lemon juice and almond milk.  Add 2 tsp lemon juice to a measuring cup, and then fill to the 3/4 cup mark with almond milk.  Set aside for a few minutes to let the milk “curdle” (that’s a good thing, I promise).

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Add the flax egg to the mixture and beat to combine, followed by the star of the show – the pumpkin.

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Alternate adding the “buttermilk” and the flour mixture until everything is combined.  Make sure to scrape down the sides!

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Once the batter is mixed, carefully pour the mixture on top of the preserves layer on the bottom of the spring form pan.

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And then gently spread the cake batter evenly to the edges…

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Pop it into a 350 degree oven for about 45-55 minutes.  Say a prayer.

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The final product should be delicious golden brown on top with a fun surprise waiting underneath.  Jiggle it to make sure it’s cooked all the way through, and test with a toothpick that comes out clean.

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Now comes the scary part – the FLIP!  I enlisted Casey’s help for this step so that I could capture the process.  First, remove the spring form outer layer, and peel back the foil from the sides of the cake.  Then invert a cake stand on top of the (bottom of) the cake.  Close your eyes and FLIP!

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Whew!  No cake on my floor, and no signs of disaster.

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Remove the base of the spring form pan and carefully remove the foil layers.  I literally gasped out loud when I saw the final product waiting underneath…

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Gooey fig and pomegranate topping, baked into deliciously light and fluffy pumpkin spice cake.

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Such a beautiful and tasty holiday treat.

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Time to DIG IN.

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Cutting into this cake and revealing the moist and airy pumpkin cake inside was definitely one of my more proud culinary moments.

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Pumpkin spiced perfection.

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A wonderful holiday treat for a dinner party or gathering.

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And while it was perfectly delicious on its own, what is cake without ice cream?  A heaping glob of pumpkin cinnamon spiced vegan ice cream no less…

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(In the interest of not letting this become the world’s longest post, the ice cream recipe can be found here!)

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First thing going on my Christmas list this year?  An ice cream scoop.  And another piece of this cake.

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I’m going to be honest.  Until this challenge, I have never considered myself to be a very capable baker.  But you went to culinary school – people always say.  True true, but in 10 months of intense courses, I probably baked for a total of 5 days.  I can cook vegetables with my eyes closed, but baking scares me.

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So when faced with challenge #8, and the somewhat daunting task of creating a pumpkin baked good, I dug deep to find my inner baker.  I am happy to report that it turns out she was in there after all.

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You can vote for my entry here!  Enjoy!

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143 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Donna@WayMoreHomemade     at 12:58 pm

thank you for the tip on removing the seeds from the pomegranate. I worked with one for the first time on Thanksgiving and removing the seeds was much more difficult than I had envisioned. I will definitely try your tip next time. And a beautiful and creative dessert.


Lori Lynn     at 7:54 pm

Great entry in the competition. Love all the flavors in your cake, and the colors too. Good luck!
P.S. I adore your cake stand…


sarah     at 3:04 pm

I voted, I voted! (Yes, before the deadline.) I’ve got my fingers crossed!


RachelSD     at 5:50 pm

Thanks for the tip regarding pomegranates! My husband is Persian and he grew up devouring the seeds, but the process of retrieving them is painful (which I can attest to now as I have had to remove seeds from the fruit alongside my husband, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law). I showed the tutorial to my husband last night and he said it was the easiest time he’s ever had getting seeds out of the fruit. We are a happy household today! :)


Erin     at 10:53 pm

I just made this for a potluck (I also made a mini one in a ramekin so I could try it before the potluck) and OH MY GOODNESS! It is amazing!!! And every step was so easy and looked just like your pictures! I love your blog and this cake…Please keep up the good work!


Emily Malone Reply:

Awesome! I’m so glad it turned out well. I’m making it for Christmas Eve this year. :)


Kelly     at 4:29 pm

I voted for you and am dying to make this! Do you have a version that is easy to print?


Vegan baking « The Shrinking Foodie     at 2:31 am

[…] for me. BUT! Also, there’s no way in hell I could have come up with this. The recipe was from The Front Burner. She’s kind of the […]

Cait     at 12:28 pm

Hi Emily! So, I wanted to make this cake for a dinner party I’m going to tonight, but I can’t find fig jam in my area. Can I make a substitute out of dried figs? Any tips?


Emily Malone Reply:

Someone else emailed me to tell me they are doing that. I believe she is going to try using dried figs in some juice and honey, and reducing that down into a thick sauce. I think it will work! Just make sure you have enough – at least a cup’s worth. You could also just sub a different flavored jam if that’s easier – raspberry or mixed berry or something like that might be good.


Cait Reply:

Ok, I made this last night and it was AMAZING! A huge hit at a dinner party at my boss’s house.

To sub for the fig jam, I boiled 20 oz of dried figs (stems snipped off) in water to cover with a big blob of honey, until some of the figs started to burst and the water turned a molasses color. Then I pureed them in the cuisinart. It looked thicker than fig jam, judging from your photos, so I added an extra 2 tbsp earth balance to the topping mixture. I think it made like 3 cups of fig puree, which I used all of for an extra thick topping. So good!


Allison     at 4:49 pm


working on this cake right now! When do you add the vanilla? I can’t seem to find it in your instructions but I may be skipping over something. Thanks!


Emily Malone Reply:

Gah! Looks like I forgot to include it – sorry! Add it when you do the flax eggs and pumpkin. Let me know how it turns out!


Allison Reply:

Thanks Emily! I made the cake and it was by far the best thing I’ve ever baked. I can’t wait to make it for my family Christmas party. I just posted about it on my blog to share with my friends and fam about how good it was. Easy to make too. Thanks again!


Millicent     at 8:21 am

This cake was so amazing! the combination of flavors is so genius, subtle and charming without being pretentious, thank you so much, vegan baking can often be merely translating recipes from the contemporary vernacular of chocolate cakes and ice cream into the equal, but sometimes boring vegan version, this is so innovative! thank you again.


Jen     at 4:35 pm

This cake is in my oven right now and I am dying. It might not be making it to Xmas Eve this year… I WANT TO EAT IT ALL! :)


Sydney     at 7:37 pm

I made this for our Christmas lunch yesterday. It turned out great and everyone loved it!! All of your recipes always look so delicious and you make them so accessible – thank you so much! :)


Emily Malone Reply:

So glad the cake turned out well! Thanks for letting me know :)


Vesna Sea     at 10:20 pm

Just great!


Carol     at 9:47 am

Amazing – thanks so much for sharing this recipe!


Cookie D     at 12:36 pm

I believe I saw this same Vegan ice cream flavor at The Jif Freeze many years ago! Your scoop looks like you didn’t use the tennis ball method ;) I will have to ask Santa for a Ice Cream Maker this year so I too can try this dessert.


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