Thursday, June 9, 2011

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake

Summers at my grandma's house in Lawton, Oklahoma are some of my very favorite memories of my childhood and growing up.

Her house was like that "coming home" feeling. And let me tell an Army Brat, getting that feeling is hard to do.

We always arrived at about 2 or 3 in the morning. The sky was dark, yet the air was hot and sticky. Our parents would wake us up and we would reluctantly open our eyes. We would groggily stumble up the steps to the front porch. The only nighttime sounds were that of the bug zapper on grandma's porch. Illuminated by that faint purple/blue glow of the bug zapper we would reach the front screen door and peer inside (grandma always left the wooden door open at nights in the summer) and there was grandma, sleeping on the couch waiting for us. She would wake up and let us in and we instantly knew we were home.

Now grandma is gone and that feeling of restlessness has returned to my soul. Especially since I married an Army man myself.

Where is home? I'm not sure. Well...actually I am sure. I do know where home is. Home resides in the hearts of The Hubble and Little Butt. (cue loving sighs).

Anyway. You're probably wondering what all of this has to do with this cake. grandma had a garden in her back yard. Now...don't underestimate. This was not your normal back yard garden. The woman had to have had at least an acre of the back yard sectioned off for her garden.

She grew everything. From tomatoes and cucumbers to peaches and, yes, apples.

One of our favorite snacks growing up was a cut up green apple with salt. Yes, I know, it sounds weird. But give it a try before you diss it.

The problem is that we ate those apples until our fingers were pruned and we were in desperate need of hydration.

Now, in my adult years, I really don't care for apples at all. (I recently found out my Older Sister has the same aversion to the fruit that I do)

From time to time I will crave a sweet red apple with some sharp white cheddar cheese, but it's rare.

I don't tend to choose apple pie. I cringe away from apple sauce. I don't tend to buy apples for our home (that was The Hubble's job if he wanted any).

So when this cake was suggested by a member of my Facebook baking group I was a little leery.

It took me over a month to work up the desire to make this cake, but make it I finally did.

I will admit that I took the big chunk of apple off of my piece and left it on the plate when I was finished with the cake itself. ;-)

The cake was actually quite good. It was moist and tender, but dense. It's definitely a hearty cake and I can see it being perfect for the Fall season.

I, personally, think the cake is rich and did not need to serve my piece with the extra caramel as suggested by the recipe. But maybe you are like my JerBear and believe that the more sugar in a dish, the better.

Who knows. But if you like apples, or even if you don't, I suggest you try this cake.

Let's bake!

We'll start by making the caramel. Heat up some corn syrup and sugar in a large skillet.

Good God when they say LARGE use a large skillet! Use a large stockpot if you have to because see what happens next:

When it's nice and amber, remove it from the heat and add in the butter and cream. Let it sit for a minute then pour some in a glass measuring dish....

The mixture starts to bubble...then it rises, pretty much like crazy! If you don't have a large enough skillet, I can tell you from experience that the mess this makes is spectacular! Here's a visual: my Niece, running from the stove shouting "What do I do? What do I do?!?!" Me responding "There's nothing you can do, just keep stirring! We'll clean it later!"

And pour the rest in the pan.

Arrange the apples, top side down in the pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the orange juice, sour cream and vanilla.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.

Mix in the eggs, one at a time.

In an alternating fashion, add half the sour cream mixture...

Then half the flour mixture, repeat.

Stir in the chopped apples.

Evenly spread the batter over the apples in the pan. Bake it up until nice and golden. Immediately invert the pan onto a platter (watch out! The caramel spreads quickly).

Slice it up and serve it with the extra caramel on top. Or's perfect without the extra. Enjoy!!

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake
Retrieved from Food Network

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For the Caramel and Apples:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large Golden Delicious apples (1 3/4 to 2 pounds)
For the Batter:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs

  1. Butter a 9-by-3-inch round cake pan. 
  2. Make the caramel: Cook the sugar and corn syrup in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is dark amber, 7 to 10 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium. Carefully add the cream and 4 tablespoons butter (it will splatter) and cook, stirring, until combined, about 3 minutes.
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and let sit 1 minute. Pour 1 1/2 cups caramel into a glass measuring cup and set aside. 
  5. Pour the remaining caramel into the prepared pan and set aside until set, about 30 minutes.
  6. Cut 3 apples into quarters and cut out the cores with a paring knife. (I also peeled the apples)
  7. Arrange the pieces skin-side down in the pan (overlapping them slightly) to form a ring about 1/2 inch from the edge. Save any pieces that do not fit for later.
  8. Halve the remaining whole apple crosswise. Scoop out the seeds with a melon baller or measuring spoon, leaving the stem on the top half. Chop the bottom and any of the leftover quartered apples into pieces; set aside.
  9. Arrange the apple top, stem-side down, in the center of the pan. If the quartered apples shift, just push them back into place.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  11. Make the batter: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. 
  12. In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream, orange juice and vanilla.
  13. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  14. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. Slip them into the mixer bowl, one at a time, and beat until the mixture is pale and creamy, about 5 more minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beater with a rubber spatula.
  15. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the sour cream mixture, then half of the flour mixture. Repeat. 
  16. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula; finish combining the batter by hand.
  17. Spread the batter over the apples in the pan. Top with the chopped apple. (I added the chopped apples to the batter)
  18. Bake on the middle oven rack until the cake is brown on top and springs back when pressed, 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes (don't worry if the top is dark). 
  19. Cool in the pan on a rack.
  20. Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a skillet wide enough to hold the cake pan. Carefully run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan several times, then rest the pan in the water to soften the caramel, about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the water and dry. (I skipped this step and inverted the cake immediately while it was still hot from the oven)
  21. Invert a plate on top of the cake, then flip over the cake and plate. Using pot holders or a towel, wriggle the pan off. 
  22. Soften the reserved 1 1/2 cups caramel in the microwave, about 2 minutes. Drizzle the cake with some of the caramel. Slice and serve with the rest.
  23. Enjoy!
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