An Upside-Down Cake with Autumn Personality
I used to make this in our cabin in the woods when I cooked a meal on the wood stove. Once the main dish was about to be served, I’d have this ready and would stick in the oven to bake with the left-over heat while we ate. It works great in a conventional oven as well, and it’s always a hit. It is a traditional “upside-down cake” where you cook the fruit on the bottom and invert the whole thing to serve. This cake is soft with a delicate flavor.
A few changes along the way
I’ve modified this recipe a lot over the years, especially in the spice department. I thought the cinnamon and nutmeg were overwhelming the apples, and I was right. When I last made this incarnation, everyone raved! No nutmeg, and now just a hint of cinnamon. I remembered that my mom always used white sugar only in her apple pie because she said she wanted it to be about the apples and not the molasses flavor of brown sugar. So, I swapped out most of the brown sugar for white here. The apples really shine. I use two types of apples, golden delicious and ginger gold, because of their lovely flavor, but use what you think tastes best, as long as they are relatively firm.
3 golden delicious or other flavorful apples, peeled, sliced into about 12 wedges each
1/3 cup butter, unsalted
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, divided
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp. Calvados liquor or apple brandy, optional, plus more for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 tbsp. butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cups milk
Prep: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel, core, and slice apples each into about 12 wedges.
Place butter, sugars, most of the cinnamon, salt, and Calvados in a 9 1/2-inch cake pan in the oven to melt and warm. Save a couple of pinches of the cinnamon to sprinkle directly in the apples.
Remove from oven and arrange the apple slices in a pretty pattern on the bottom, starting with the outside ring. Sprinkle with a little Calvados or other apple liquor, and the rest of the cinnamon.
Make batter: Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, cream butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy and light, then add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each.
To the egg mixture, add the flour and milk alternately in three batches, stirring very gently in between each addition. You do not want to develop the gluten here, so don’t mix, just combine. The batter will be light and fluffy.
(Sometimes at this point, a mince up about a half cup of additional apples, firm, and gently add them into the batter, but this is not essential).
Spread the batter evenly over the apples.
If you do not have a wood stove going, bake in a traditional oven at 350 degrees for about 35 to 45 minutes, or until the cake is set (test with a toothpick) and nicely browned. Cool for ten minutes, run a knife around the edge of the pan, take a deep breath, then invert it onto a plate. You can do it!
Once inverted, I sprinkle a little more Calvados directly on the apples. If short of time, serve with vanilla ice cream or Whiskey Cream, below, or Whiskey Custard, if you have more time!
For those who have to avoid dairy, make the cake with soy milk, and use whipped coconut cream to top! It comes out great.
Pineapple Upside Cake
When I was growing up, my mother loved to make Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Just recreate this recipe using pineapples and cherries in place of the apples (also skip the calvados). She always used pineapple rings with a bright, red maraschino cherry in the middle of each (I use a fresh cherry). It is an old-fashioned, dated recipe, but one that is none-the-less delicious, and always entertaining and appreciated.
This is a lively custard with tons of flavor. It reminds me of my mother’s Christmas egg nog! If you don’t like the flavor of whiskey, you can substitute any favorite spirit: brandy, dark rum, amaretto…
4 egg yolks
2 tbsp. sugar
1 cup half-and-half or milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. whiskey
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until it becomes a pale yellow.
Heat cream over medium heat just to the point where it starts to steam. Temper the eggs by drizzling a little of the milk at a time into the egg mixture until most of it is incorporated and the eggs are warmed. Return to the pot and stir gently until the custard thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. This should happen between 160 and 165 degrees. Do not overheat or you run the risk of a curdle here! Remember, this will thicken as it cools.
Add the whiskey and vanilla off the heat.
Quick Whiskey Cream
Guests are here, and you ran out of time! You can make this topping in just a few minutes, and no cooking!
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp. superfine sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extracct
2 tbsp. whiskey, or other spirit
Start whipping the cream and once it has started to thicken, sprinkle in the sugar a little at a time. Keep beating, add the vanilla and whiskey, and whip until it is at your desired thickness.
© Copyright 2018 – or current year, Dorothy Grover-Read