Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Flipping for Apple Cake
Last night our dear friends Deborah and Larry stopped by for dinner in Pittsburgh. You might not think that stopping by for dinner is any big deal, but they live in Los Angeles, so it was a big deal. Since we moved to Pittsburgh a dozen or so years ago, it's been hard to see each other regularly.
As you may recall, I visited Deborah in Los Angeles in June. While I was there, she threw one of her fabulous dinner parties. I needed to reciprocate.
But it was a Monday, and they were just with us for one night on their way to Florida, so instead of a dinner for eight or 10, I made a dinner for the four of us.
For dessert I made this amazing, if I do say so myself, upside down apple cake from one of my fav bakers, Joanne Chang of Flour fame. I found this recipe quite by accident. When we were flying home from Maine on Sunday evening, I looked on my iPhone for a recipe for upside down apple cake, just thinking it would be good. I knew there was such a thing as upside down pineapple cake, but I'd never seen (or rather looked for) an apple cake recipe.
I'm not going to tell you this was quick, although tarte tartin would have been a whole lot more effort. The busiest part of this recipe was cutting up the apples, but I did that while the maple syrup was reducing.
If you decide to make this, splurge on the really good maple syrup. Being regular visitors to Maine, we have an abundance of the stuff, so I was in good shape. If you don't have any around the house, go out and buy a nice dark amber maple syrup (no maple flavoring for this cake) and then be prepared to taste autumn with your first bite.
And sharing it with good friends makes it all the more delicious.
Recipe: Maple-Apple Upside-Down Cake
1 cup pure maple syrup
3 Granny Smith apples—peeled, cored and cut into eighths
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
Crème fraîche, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 10-inch round cake pan. In a large saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a boil over high heat, then simmer over low heat until very thick and reduced to 3/4 cup, about 20 minutes. Pour the thickened syrup into the cake pan. Arrange the apples in the pan in 2 concentric circles, overlapping them slightly.
In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a glass measuring cup, whisk the eggs with the buttermilk and vanilla. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the dry and wet ingredients in 3 alternating batches until the batter is smooth; scrape down the side of the bowl.
Scrape the batter over the apples and spread it in an even layer. Bake the cake for 1 1/2 hours, until golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool on a rack for 45 minutes.
Place a plate on top of the cake and invert the cake onto the plate; tap lightly to release the cake. Remove the pan. Let the cake cool slightly, then cut into wedges and serve with crème fraîche.