Upside Down Apple Cake is a classic dessert for fall, when delicious apple varieties are flooding the markets. Affiliate links have been used to link to items I am discussing.
Sorry for the extended silence! It’s been a while since postseason baseball was of interest to me, but with my Indians moving on this year I have been glued to the TV an awful lot. And I know that the Cubs have pretty much stolen the storyline with their 108 year World Series drought. But spare a little love for the Indians with their 68 year drought. I mean let’s face it, in either case there are not that many people living who can truly remember their team winning it all.
Anyway, excuses made, on to food.
An upside down cake has been on my bucket list to make for a long time (I realize it is kind of shocking I have never made an upside down cake). When I found myself craving apple baked goods–as one does in the fall–I became fixated on the idea of an upside down apple cake. When I first went looking for recipes (having no idea how to invent one and make sure it would release from the pan–I prefer to follow a recipe the first time I bake something), I was surprised by how difficult it was to find one focused on apples. And apples are sufficiently different from pineapples and even peaches that I was not sure about substituting them.
Enter Rose Levy Beranbaum to the rescue! In her Rose’s Heavenly Cakes I found a recipe specifically for an Upside Down Apple Cake. I was attracted to the sour cream in it–I think apples and sour cream are a match made in heaven (oh let’s face it, everything is better with sour cream), but I did add cinnamon to the cake and use pecans instead of walnuts, which I loathe. The nuts were an especially nice touch, adding texture to the cake.
I have to give a shout out to Alex for layering the apple slices for me! I find stuff like that super intimidating–and yes I know how silly that sounds, but it is the kind of thing where when I try to do it, my slices would never overlap so nicely or look so awesome. So on the one hand, I encourage you to make this cake and not worry about how perfect the apple slices are, but on the other hand I also give you permission to beg your kid to overlap the apple slices for you.
- For the apples:
- 2 large or 3 small apples peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices (I used a mixture of sweet and tart varieties)
- 1 t lemon juice
- 1/3 cup brown sugar, divided
- 4 T unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
- For the cake:
- 1 1/3 cups (150 g) cake flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 t baking powder
- 1/4 t baking soda
- 1/2 t Ceylon cinnamon
- 1/4 t fine sea salt
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 t vanilla
- 9 T (1 stick + 1 T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup chopped toasted pecans
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Toss the prepped apples with the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar. Set aside.
- Prepare a 9x2 inch cake pan by greasing the bottom of the pan with a little oil or shortening and then layering a cut out circle of parchment paper on it.
- In a small, heavy saucepan, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter. Using a pastry brush, transfer about 1 tablespoon of the butter to the cake pan, brushing the sides of the pan and the bottom over the parchment paper.
- Add the remaining brown sugar to the saucepan, and then also add all of the juices that have drained out of the apples. Stir constantly and bring to a boil--when it boils, stop stirring. Simmer for 3 minutes, until it is bubbling and a deep amber in color.
- Pour this caramel mixture over the bottom of the cake pan--do not scrape the saucepan. Tilt the cake pan to evenly coat the bottom of the cake pan with the caramel sauce. Ignore any hardening--baking will re-melt it.
- Beginning in the center of the cake pan, place the apple slices in an overlapping spiral, like this:
- Set the pan aside, and make the cake batter.
- Whisk together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a stand mixer bowl.
- Fit the bowl into the stand mixer with the paddle attached.
- Whisk together the egg yolks, sour cream and vanilla. Set aside.
- Add the 9 tablespoons room temperature butter to the mixer bowl. Begin mixing it into the flour mixture on low speed. When the dry ingredients become moistened, beat on medium speed for a minute.
- Add 1/3 of the liquid mixture, and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and repeat twice more, adding all of the liquid ingredients.
- Scrape the cake batter onto the prepared apples in blobs across the cake pan--do not pour all in one pile, because the batter is thick and you do not want to disrupt the apples. Use a small offset spatula to smooth the batter evenly over the apples.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the cake is golden brown, a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.
- While the cake is baking, toast and chop the pecans.
- When you remove the cake from the oven, immediately use a small metal spatula to run between the cake and the sides of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert the cake at once onto a serving plate-leaving the pan in place for 1-2 minutes before lifting it off of the cake.
- If any apples pieces stick, just quickly add them back to the cake.
- Sprinkle the chopped toasted pecans over the cake evenly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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