Growing up in Florida I never saw an apple tree, I saw plenty of orange trees but always wished I could go apple picking. I would see images of people on fun apple picking outings and feel instantly envious! I wanted fall leaves and crisp cool autumn days! While everyone up north was wearing cozy fall sweaters I was still wearing my shorts and flip flops and blasting the air-conditioner! (I have to admit though that when there’s so much ice on the ground in the winter that I can’t walk my chihuahua I wish for Florida weather! ) Ack! We wish for what we don’t have sometimes! 😛
I didn’t get to see a real live apple tree until I moved to New York six years ago. Since picking my own apples was something I always wanted to do, when I got the chance I picked way too many for two people to ever eat! We gave some away but still had too many so I started making spiced apples in the crockpot for spooning over vanilla ice cream and stirring into oatmeal but I wanted to try a recipe that just lets the flavor of the apples shine through. I think this upside-down cake recipe really showcases my gorgeous apples without hiding behind a lot of spices although if you really wanted to you could certainly throw in some apple pie spice if you like.
The cake part of the recipe is really just a quick bread so it comes together easily plus the addition of cornmeal in the batter helps the cake hold up to the weight of the apples. Pre-cooking some of the apples before putting them in the bottom of the pan infuses the apples with caramel-like buttery goodness!
I definitely recommend using firm apples like Granny Smith so that your apples hold their shape during the cooking process. I did mix it up with what I used but all the apples I had were pretty firm.
You will need a 9-inch cake pan with 2-inch sides for this cake. If you don’t have one you could use an 8-inch square pan. Give this easy cake a try and let me know what you think!
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, plus extra for pan
- 4 Granny Smith apples or firm red apples (about 2 pounds), peeled and cored
- 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal (optional)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- FOR THE TOPPING
- Generously butter bottom and sides of a 9-inch round, 2-inch-deep nonstick cake pan; set aside. Adjust oven rack to the lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut all apples in half, then cut 2 of the apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices; set aside. Cut remaining 2 apples into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
- Heat butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add 1/2-inch-thick apple slices and cook, stirring 2 or 3 times, until apples begin to caramelize, about 6 minutes. (Do not fully cook apples.) Add 1/4-inch-thick apple slices, brown sugar, and lemon juice; continue cooking, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves and apples are coated, about 1 minute longer. Transfer apple mixture to prepared pan and lightly press into even layer. Set aside while preparing cake.
- FOR THE CAKE
- Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside. Whisk granulated sugar, brown sugar, and eggs together in large bowl until thick and well mixed, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter until combined. Add sour cream and vanilla; whisk until combined. Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into pan and spread evenly over apples. Bake until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
- Cool pan on wire rack for 20 minutes. Run knife around sides of cake to loosen. Place a wire rack over cake pan. Holding rack tightly, invert the cake pan and wire rack together; lift off cake pan. Place wire rack over baking sheet or large plate to catch any drips. If any fruit sticks to pan bottom, remove and place it on top of the cake. Let cake cool for 20 minutes and then transfer to a serving platter.
My “Gamer” Valentine’s Day Love Story
We met in an online game. Star Wars Galaxies to be exact.
It’s weird telling people how we met, “How’d you meet?” “umm…in an online game…” We are met with either blank stares or “That’s so cool”! You’re never sure what you’re going to get. Even in this tech savvy world we live in it still seems weird to some people, like it can’t be taken seriously. For instance we can’t say, “Yeah we met at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity or something important sounding like that and to make matters worse it’s a Star Wars game…geeky AND weird!
(There’s more to read below!)
I ended up in his guild, (for you non-gamers that’s a group of like-minded people that share common goals in a game, like taking down the baddest boss (monster) in the game. We started talking some or rather typing and eventually ended up curious about each other’s real names and he miraculously guessed mine on the very first try! I was pretty astounded and he had my attention after that!
I have to say that meeting in this way turned out to be really important in that we got to know each other without any physical distractions. It was just what we typed to one another and nothing else. Our thoughts and our feelings only. This built such an intimacy between us that I never knew could exist. That beginning bonded us in a special way. We knew each other, I mean REALLY knew each other before we ever physically met…not to mention my typing skills improved dramatically! 🙂
We eventually moved on from Star Wars and onto the world of Azeroth (World of Warcraft) where our relationship grew until we finally decided to meet! It had been nearly two years since we’d met online and finally meeting in person was one of the most exciting, thrilling, heart-thumpingly nervous days of my life! Meeting him really “sealed the deal” in my heart and I have never looked back!
Now we get to game side by side instead of over 1000 miles apart and we look forward to “leveling” together offline and on for the rest of our lives!
Happy Valentine’s Day and….May the Force be with You!
- 2 large egg yolks plus 1 large white, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar, divided (2 Tbsp will go in the egg white)
- 3/4 cup cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup mashed or finely chopped strawberries, (I used a food processor)
- 4 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 Tbsp butter at room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 1/4 cup mashed strawberries, drained well
- Red food coloring is optional. 3 drops will make cake a pale pink.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray with cooking spray two 6‑inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease and flour parchment or spray again if using cooking spray.
- Using a hand-held mixer set at medium-low speed, beat egg white in a medium bowl until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and beat egg white to soft, billowy mounds, about 1 minute. Gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar and beat until glossy, stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed; set aside.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and remaining 6 tablespoons sugar together in second medium bowl.
- In small bowl, whisk buttermilk, melted butter, oil, vanilla, and egg yolks together.
- Using hand-held mixer set at low speed, gradually pour butter mixture into flour mixture and mix until almost combined, 15 to 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl, then beat on medium-low speed until smooth and fully combined, 10 to 15 seconds.
- Stir drained strawberries into batter.
- Using a rubber spatula, stir one-third of whites into batter, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, smooth tops, and gently tap each pan on counter to release air bubbles.
- Bake cakes until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 16 to 18 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking.
- Let cakes cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Run knife around edge of cakes to loosen. Remove cakes from pans, discarding parchment, and let cool completely on rack, about 1 hour.
- Line edges of cake platter with 4 strips of parchment paper to keep platter clean. Place 1 cake layer on platter. Spread 1/2 cup frosting evenly over top, right to edge of cake. Top with second cake layer, then spread 1/2 cup frosting evenly over top. Spread remaining frosting evenly over sides of cake. Carefully remove parchment strips before serving.
- Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and add the sugar and drained strawberries. Blend on low speed until the sugar is incorporated then raise the speed to medium and mix the frosting another minute or until the frosting lightens and is well combined.
- Cooled cakes can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day. Wrapped tightly in plastic, then aluminum foil, cakes can be frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost cakes at room temperature before unwrapping and frosting.
- Assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- The frosting might seem a little loose at first. I put the frosted cake in the fridge to firm up before serving and it was perfect. Just make sure you don't have a lot of juice left in the berries. If it's very loose just add more powdered sugar, a little at a time, until you get the consistency you like.