Rosy apples are everywhere, beckoning seductively from roadside stands and farmers markets. Why resist? This sublime caramelized apple upside-down cake is a sweet way to honor them—and you don’t have to bother peeling or chopping. Just core and quarter them, caramelize them in a skillet, then top them with cake batter and pop the skillet in the oven. When it’s done, turn the skillet upside down onto a plate, and out comes a moist, cinnamon-scented treat topped with apples in all their harvest glory.
3 1/2 Golden Delicious apples
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup organic sugar or other sweetener of choice
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 Golden Delicious apple
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup organic sugar or sweetener of choice
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream or Greek-style yogurt
1. Core the apples and cut them in quarters.
2. In a 10 1/4-inch cast-iron or other oven-proof skillet, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add sugar and stir well to combine. Arrange apples decoratively, cut sides up, in the bottom of the skillet and sprinkle walnuts evenly between the apple quarters. Cook over low heat without stirring for 30 minutes, until apples are tender and the sugar has caramelized.
3. Preheat oven to 375F. Make the cake batter; chop the apple half finely. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
4. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer or hand-held whisk until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and ginger and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sour cream or yogurt, with mixer on low speed, and gradually beat in the flour mixture until just combined. Add chopped apple to batter, folding in gently.
5. With skillet off the heat, spoon batter over the caramelized apple topping. Spread evenly with a spatula, being careful not to disturb the apples, and leaving a 1/4-inch border of cooked apples uncovered. Bake cake in center of preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown.
6. Remove skillet from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes on a rack. Slide a thin knife around the edge, place a serving plate on top of the skillet, and invert it so the cake ends up on the plate (carefully, so that it doesn’t end up on the floor!). Serve warm or room temperature with whatever topping you like (whipped cream or vanilla ice cream are naturals).
Serves 8 to 10.