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Upside Down Apple Cake

What? Another apple cake recipe, when there seem to be a plethora of them at this time of year? Well yes, because A) Like cheesecake, you can never have enough apple cake recipes and B) This one is an upside-down apple cake, a cake oozing with sticky, buttery and sugary goodness that I can’t get enough of.

If you’ve followed my blog over the years, you know I’ve made upside-down cakes using lots of different fruits, including the classic pineapple, but also pears, figs, blood oranges, plums, cranberries, peaches, and there are still more to try.

This cake would make a nice addition to the traditional pumpkin pie on your Thanksgiving table, too. I made it twice in the last week or so, once with walnuts added (top photo) and the second time without walnuts, (photos below) but with an extra caramel sauce drizzled on top. It doesn’t really need either item, but the caramel sauce helped disguise a crack in the center of the cake after I flipped it too vigorously onto the plate.

And speaking of the plate, isn’t she a beauty? That two-toned blue and beige platter was made by a friend of mine – a gifted potter named Jacalynn McCord. I hadn’t seen her since we graduated from high school eons ago, but we recently reconnected at a reunion and had a blast catching up. Back when Cher was still not allowed to show her naval on TV,  Jackie and I (along with some other classmates) were members of a folk-singing group. We played the world-famous nursing home/bar mitzvah circuit, singing covers of Joan Baez and Bob Dylan songs – and even cut a record! But that was two or three lifetimes ago.

Jackie went on to study art and become a talented potter and runs a business called Lion Paw Pottery. The name derives from her alma mater, Penn State University, whose mascot is the Nittany Lion. Many, but not all, of her designs feature lion paw prints (for those diehard PSU fans) and she’ll custom-make an item too. You can peruse her website here.  I think her platter shows off this cake beautifully, and I’m sure you readers will be seeing it on future posts featuring other foods as well.

Just a word about the cake – It’s delicious at any temperature, but best the day it’s made, and when it’s warm from the oven, it’s irresistible.

Upside Down Apple Cake
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR THE APPLES:
  • ¾ cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced ½" thick
  • FOR THE CAKE:
  • 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease with butter and dust with flour an 8" round cake pan. (I used a springform pan, but some of the butter leaked causing spillage in the oven. If you use a springform pan, place it on a cookie sheet with a sheet of aluminum foil, or parchment paper underneath it.)
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat melt brown sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. Cook until slightly thickened, about two minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.
  5. In another large bowl, using a mixer, beat together butter and sugars until softened.
  6. Add eggs one at a time. then add vanilla.
  7. Add half the dry ingredients to wet ingredients, beating until just combined.
  8. Pour in milk and mix until fully incorporated.
  9. Add remaining dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  10. Pour batter over apples and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean 1 hour.
  11. Let cool in pan 15 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack and let cool completely before slicing.
 

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Pear Apple Crostata

Pear Apple Crostata

Last week I promised you this recipe, courtesy of my friend Jan who brought it for dessert recently following our dinner of stuffed shells. It was warm and beautiful. I wish I had thought to take a photo of the entire thing before we sliced into it, but one can only resist so much temptation. You can call it a galette, a croustade, a crostata or even an open-face pie. But whatever you call it, call it fantastic.

Jan used dried cranberries and dried cherries, but if you don’t have both, you can substitute more of one or the other. Eat this warm topped with a scoop of ice cream, and it could become your go-to dessert.

pastry crust:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel (maybe even a little bit more, but not a tablespoonful)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter cut cross-wise in 1/2 inch slices
1/4 cup or more heavy cream

Whisk flour, sugar, lemon peel, and salt in medium bowl. Add butter; using pastry cutter, blend butter with flour mixture until coarse meal forms. Drizzle 1/4 cream over; toss with fork until moist clumps form adding more cream by teaspoonfuls as needed if dry. I added 2 more teaspoons. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour. You may do this a day ahead. In that case, let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling out.

Filling:
5 firm but ripe Bartlett pears, peeled cored, and thinly sliced
1 large granny smith apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2-3 tablespoons dried cherries
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons (maybe a bit more) finely grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon (generous) ground nutmeg
heavy cream for brushing
sliced almonds for edge

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix all fruit, sugar, flour, lemon juice, lemon peel, and nutmeg in a large bowl to coat. (I whisked together the sugar, flour, lemon peel and nutmeg before adding the juice or the fruit.)
Roll out pastry on sheet of floured parchment paper to 14inch round, Transfer crust on parchment paper to baking sheet. Mound fruit in center of pastry, leaving a 2 inch border all around. Fold pastry border over fruit, crimping slightly. Brush edges with cream and gently press on sliced almonds.

Bake until filling bubbles and almonds are lightly toasted, about 1 hour. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream if desired.

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Fig Crostata