Sunday, 10 June 2012

Maggie Beer's Upside-Down Grape and Verjuice Cake

Cake-baking is seriously the best way to procrastinate, because at least while you're procrasti-baking, you're somehow being productive at the same time! Plus, how good is a piece of baked deliciousness when you're up at 2AM keeling over your keyboard trying to make an essay go from "to do" to "ta-dah"? But now that my essays are all done and dusted and safely in the submission box, I bring you this post that I meant to upload a little while ago.

My mission:
To make the Maggie Beer Upside-Down Grape and Verjuice Cake.
(It even has a longer name than my special cupcakes!) Image courtesy of Maggie Beer

After hearing the oohs and ahhs of my parents watching contestant after contestant turn out this gorgeous cake on Masterchef one night, I decided that I may as well try it, because it was definitely going to get eaten! 

Plus, my mum’s friend from Japan was coming to stay, so that seemed like a perfect excuse to whip up a cake if you ask me! I was warned however; you practice cooking with your family, but you give a tried and tested perfect one to the guests. 

In hindsight, they were wise words.

I'm not going to sugarcoat it, THIS CAKE IS NOT EASY TO MAKE. Then again, that's coming from someone who normally calls the cake mix box her friend.

Anyway, here's the recipe plus step-by-step photos, because while this culinary creation will test you in the kitchen, if you pass, that baby is delicious!

The Maggie Beer Upside-Down Grape and Verjuice Cake

**Anything in red are tips from my own experience**

Once I started cooking, I realised I didn't buy enough of one ingredient (idiot), so I halved the quantities of all the ingredients so I could still make the cake - although a smaller version -_- But the quantities here are the correct measurements from the recipe.

Ingredients (Verjuice Syrup):
8 strips lemon rind
2 cup Verjuice plus additional 2 Tbspn
3 fresh bay leaves - I didn't bother with these
1 1/4 cup caster sugar
1 12cm sprig fresh rosemary
1 10cm sprig fresh lemon thyme

Ingredients (Upside Down Cake Batter):

300g white grapes - Seedless red grapes also work, you'll see why later!
4 free range eggs separated
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup plain flour
3/4 tspn baking powder
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup Verjuice
1 tspn lemon zest

1. Preheat oven to 180⁰C. Line the base and sides of a 20cm solid based cake tin, with greaseproof paper. Ensure the collar of the grease proof paper is 3-4cm higher than sides of the tin. 

I initially didn't have a solid-based tin, so I sent my mum out to buy a new one but she came with one where you can loosen the sides and the bottom of the pan falls out. Already I was having my doubts – it seemed like the perfect gap for the verjuice caramel to seep out of – but I went with it. 

Use some sort of weight to keep the baking paper in place.
2. For Verjuice syrup, place Verjuice, sugar and bay leaves in a large shallow saucepan approximately 28cm in diameter (Saucepan-schmauzepan! A frying pan will do the job just fine).

Bring to a rapid boil over a high heat. Boil for 6–8 minutes or until the syrup begins to turn a caramel colour, add the rosemary and lemon rind. 

Continue cooking for 2–3 minutes over a high heat until deep golden brown, but not burnt. This is the most stressful part - caramel burns really fast, so make sure you watch that pan! You have a window of about 30 seconds between caramel colour and dark gold.

3. Remove the Verjuice syrup from heat and stir in additional 2 tablespoons of Verjuice.

4. Immediately pour the syrup into the cake pan to prevent further cooking. Arrange bay leaves, lemon rind and rosemary and place grapes on top of syrup.

Okay, here's the grape story - After going to two stores to get white grapes, I found out they were out of season!! The week that Masterchef aired this episode was the same week white grapes stopped appearing in shops!

What sort of cooking show provides a recipe that is only doable a day after it airs?!

Lemon thyme is listed as an ingredient but isn't in the method. Awkward.
I just tossed some sprigs in at this step.
5. For the cake batter, in a mixing bowl beat half the sugar with egg yolks (keep the whites handy, you'll need them later) and lemon rind until thick and pale. 

With the mixer running slowly pour Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Verjuice into the egg yolk mixture. Mix for 30 seconds to combine.

6. Sift the flour (I never sift. Rebel.) and baking powder into the batter and beat for 1 minute or until mixture is smooth. Pour into a large mixing bowl and set aside (no need, keep it in the same bowl).

The Lazy Sift: bang the bowl on the table and flour lumps disappear -
think how baristas bang the milk jug to get bubbles out of the frothed milk.

7. Place egg whites into a clean mixing bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Continue to whisk, gradually adding remaining sugar. Continue to whisk until sugar has dissolved.

Prop the bowl up against something so it's on an angle
- it's easier to get air into it faster.
8. Gently fold in the meringue 1/3 at a time into the batter mixture using a metal spoon.

Try to be as gentle as you can.
9. Pour mixture into a prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until cooked all the way through.

All my caramel leaked out :(
 Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin for 45 minutes to an hour. 

Before turning out, pull out or cut off baking paper collar so it is level with the cake.

10. Turn out on plate with a lip to catch the Verjuice syrup, and remove baking paper base before serving.

And now for the final results!

I must say, it was pretty yummy! I was getting worried while I baked, thinking it wasn't going to work, and even my boyfriend was convinced it would fail!
BUT, if I was on Masterchef, I probably would’ve been eliminated like five times over. My verjuice caramel seeped and leaked everywhere, and I didn’t read the recipe properly so didn’t buy enough of one ingredient, thus only making half a cake!

Oh well, it still tasted pretty good! Next time I'll definitely do it properly.

Maggie Beer's original recipe.


  1. Mhmmm this look really delicious
    xo, Petra

  2. i'm in the mood for cake baking now!

  3. oh darling you are too beautiful!
    i was actually thinking today, how good you would look with a high bun and your fringe! and of course you look amazing :)

    can't wait to work with you again

    1. Aww you cutie patootie :) Same, I miss you! x

  4. Looks nice!! :D

  5. Looks like a nice cake! That must have been hard for you to quickly take a picture of the caramel before it burnt.

  6. Aww man I love Maggie Beer! She is such a sensational cook! Hehe, at 2AM, I'm craving for food that I shouldn't be craving /damn you Tim Tams/ I've always wanted to make an upside cake but was afraid that it'd collapse on me or spill out everywhere, but yours turned out so delightfully lovely! :D Oh I hate when I don't have enough ingredients, but portion control dear, just think of how admirable our management skills are :D I loved that you used an apple as a weight HAHA that's so cute! Caramel does burn fast D: That's why with my caramel chocolate brownies, I use caramel candies instead of making mine from scratch /shhh/ Sifting is such tedious work, especially if you bake macaroons, lordy lord, it's horrid. Seriously can't believe how awesome you made it, I will clap in complete awe :3

  7. yammmy looks delicious:*
    I really like cake but do not have enough patience :)
    I love your blog: * I follow you now:*


  8. looks nice!


  9. I'm so in love with your blog. Can we please follow each other? :)

  10. Looks delicious !!!

  11. Uauuuuuu , que pinta , lo intento y ya te contaré que tal ...
    Un besazo .

  12. You're an artist! i couldn't do that!!
    thanks for visit my blog!

  13. Oh God! That looks amazing! Awesome blog!
    I'm now a follower! Hope you can follow me too!

  14. ah this looks so good and i love your step by step photos!

    xx rae

    1. Thank you! I hope they make the recipe easier :) x

  15. Looks delicious!! I love baking! (:


  16. so yummy and healthy!

    Visit my blog? xx Miss Beatrix (

  17. Looks yummy!

  18. Thanks for your lovely comment. You told me about your cake and it really looks delicious. I would love to try it right away! (:

    1. Thanks for visiting and checking it out! If you do, I'd love to see a photo :) x

  19. Looks extremely delicious :)

    I'm a new follower of your blog, hope you follow back! ;)

    Wanna Jean,


Thank you for all of your lovely comments, I love reading them <3 Make sure to leave a link to your blog so I can come say hi! Otherwise look out for a reply on the post :) Love xx

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