Sunday, June 17, 2012

Apple Upside Down Cake

Happy Father's Day!

I have a pretty fantastic's to him! *clink*

This cake was his choice, and once again, ATK came through with an excellent execution.

It's surprisingly sweet.
The cake is really moist from the caramel apple syrup soaking through what used to be the bottom. (P.S. Lick it off the wax paper for me, will you?)
One layer.
...which means you can have a bigger piece, right?

Apples are always in season. (Could you use peaches or nectarines or something? Probably, and it would probably be awesome!)
Cornmeal adds just a bit of coarse, humble texture to the cake.'s wonderful. I've been eyeing Deb's snack cakes (not this kind of snack cake) for a while now. They're so summery and not fussy, something that deserves to be eaten en famille.

Happy Father's Day! Make a lovely cake for Dad, or bake together!

Apple Upside Down Cake
Yield: one 9" round cake (or see other pan options below in #1)


for the topping...
2 pounds Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples, peeled and cored (that was 4 apples for me)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup packed (4 2/3 ounces) brown sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice

for the cake...
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (5¼ ounces) granulated sugar
¼ cup packed (1 3/4 ounces) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
½ cup (4 ounces) sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Grease and flour a 9" cake pan (sides at least 2" high, or your cake will overflow), or a 10" skillet or 8" square pan. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Halve apples from stem to blossom end. Cut 2 apples into  ¼-inch-thick slices; set aside. Cut remaining 2 apples into ½-inch-thick slices. Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2-inch-thick apple slices and cook, stirring 2 or 3 times, until apples begin to caramelize, 4 to 6 minutes (do not fully cook apples). Add 1/4-inch-thick apple slices, brown sugar, and lemon juice and continue cooking, stirring carefully (the pan will be quite full), until sugar dissolves and apples are coated, about 1 minute longer. Transfer apple mixture to prepared cake pan and lightly press into even layer.
  3. Whisk flour, cornmeal, if using, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. Whisk granulated sugar, brown sugar, and eggs together in large bowl until thick and thoroughly combined (do this by hand for the full homey effect, it's really not too strenuous!), about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter until combined. Add sour cream and vanilla and whisk until combined. Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into pan and spread evenly over fruit. Bake cake until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
  4. Let cake cool in pan on wire rack for 20 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of cake to loosen. Place wire rack over pan and, holding rack tightly, invert cake pan and wire rack together. Lift off pan. Place wire rack with cake over baking sheet or large plate lined with wax paper to catch any drips. If any fruit sticks to pan bottom, remove and position it on top of cake. Let cake cool completely, about 20 minutes, then transfer to serving platter and serve.
Recipe from The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook, which happens to be my dad's book. So thematic.

A note about garnishes: powdered sugar and whipped cream

I like to use this tea ball or some similar tea-straining sieve to dust things with powdered makes a smaller mess and is lots of fun! But for this cake, since the top is sort of wet from the apples, it doesn't make a lot of difference. The sugar dissolves quickly and disappears.

We used Reddi-wip, but bonus points if you whip your own. Or just eat it plain, no one will ask you where the whipped cream is (unless they're my dad).

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