If you are all like me, the second the mercury drops below 65F you are already plotting the stream of apple desserts that are going into the oven. I’ve already baked the first apple pie before the official fall season began and even if that ended with a bit of drama – the filling juices escaped the bottom crust – it was a delicious mess.
When I received Rose Levy Beranbaum’s new book “Rose’s Heavenly Cakes”, I hurriedly earmarked her apple upside-down cake and her apple-cinnamon crumb coffee cake – both looked absolutely well…uh…heavenly!
I quickly stocked up on apples and warned the “Hungry” Hubby not to eat any of them. You have to be clear with HH regarding which fruits are meant for straight consumption, he is a veritable fruit-eating fiend and there is always some type of contention whenever he is out of his own stash of fruits and starts to covet the plums, figs and especially the apples meant for my baking pleasure.
Because of some time constraints on baking day, I decided to go with the apple upside-down cake which appeared to be the simpler of the two. At first, I thought RLB forgot the cinnamon in the recipe, I mean how can you have apples without cinnamon? I was tempted to add 1/2 a teaspoon but my rule was always to follow the recipe faithfully the first time, see how it turns out and then make adjustments to my own taste as needed.
Apple Upside-down cake
from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s "Rose’s Heavenly Cakes"
Apple and Walnut Filling
1 1/4 pounds of apples ( about 2 large) 3 1/4 cups, 1 pound
lemon juice, freshly squeezed 1 tsp.
light brown sugar, preferably Muscovado 1/3 cup, firmly packed, divided, 2.5 oz.
unsalted butter 4 tbs., divided, 2 oz
walnut halves 2/3 cup
One 9×2-inch round cake pan, encircled with a cake strip, bottom coated with shortening, topped with a parchment round; baking stone optional
Preheat the oven, twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven, set a biking stone, if using, on the rack and preheat the oven to 350F/175C.
Make the apple topping. In a medium bowl, toss together the apples, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 1/2 hours. Drain the apples, reserving their liquid.
In a small heavy saucepan, preferably nonstick, melt the butter. Use about 1 tablesppon to coat the parchment-lined bottom and the sides of the cake pan.
Add the remaining brown sugar and the reserved liquid that has drained from the apples to the butter remaining in the saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a light-colored silicone spatula, then stop stirring, but leave the spatula in place to judge the color, and simmer for about 3 minutes, until bubling thickly and deep amber in color.
Pour this mixture (do not scrape) into the prepared cake pan, tilting to coat the entire bottom. Don’t worry if the mixture hardens; it will melt during baking. Place the apple slices, overlapping slightly, on the bottom and around the sides of the pan. Set aside.
Toast the walnuts. Spread the walnuts evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes to enhance their flavor. Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid over-browning. Cool completely. Chop coarsely and set aside.
about 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature 3 1/2 tbs., 2 oz.
sour cream 1/2 cup divided, 4.2 oz.
pure vanilla extract 1 1/4 tsp. ,
cake flour (or bleached all-purpose) 1 1/2 cup (or 1 1/3 cup), sifted into the cup and leveled off, 5.3 oz.
superfine sugar 3/4 cup, 5.3 oz
baking powder 3/4 tsp.
baking soda 1/4 tsp.
salt 1/4 tsp.
unsalted butter (65F to 75F) 9 tbs., 4.5 oz
Mix the liquid ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks, 2 tbs. of the sour cream, and the vanilla just until combined.
Make the batter. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining sour cream. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture to the batter in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Using a silicone spatula, drop the batter in big blobs on top of the apples. then smooth the surface evenly with a small offset spatula while keeping the apples in an attractive pattern.
Bake the cake. Place the pan in the oven on the stone, if using it. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown, a wire cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.
Unmold and cool the cake. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the cake, pressing firmly against the pan, and invert the cake at once onto a serving plate. Leave the pan in place for 1 to 2 mintues before lifting it off. If any apple slices have stuck to the pan, use a small metal spatula to place them back on the cake. Scatter the toasted walnuts on top. Serve warm or room temperature.
I was a bit disappointed that the caramelization was not as dark as I wanted it to be and all of it seemed to have pooled to the sides and left the center apple slices quite anemic-looking. It might have been because I did not use Muscovado sugar, but I suspect it was more of my omission of the baking stone. Do not be deceived by its looks for this dessert was devoured immediately after dinner when I took it to my friend’s house – not a crumb was left! It was interesting that six adults have already polished off most of the cake when one of their kids came up to the table and asked what’s for dessert. Oops…all gone. 🙂
More interesting was that HH was not even a “cake person” and yet he happily indulged in a good-sized slice. I myself am partial to tarts and pies rather than cakes. The apple upside-down cake has such a thin layer of cakiness which was not too sweet at all and had a tangy flavor that may have come from the sour cream or juice from the apple slices
This is definitely going into my regular rotation of apple-themed desserts and next time I will make the bourbon-whipped cream that was suggested with the cake. I don’t think I’m going to be adding any cinnamon to it either because it tasted fine the way it was yet I’m sure there will be a nagging feeling that is going to stay with me if I do not try that out.