Thursday, January 7, 2010

Apple Upside-Down Cake

Remember when I said I could only make Poached Salmon with Herb Vinaigrette if I also made a yummy cake for dessert? Well, Apple Upside-Down Cake is the cake I made. I saw this cake in the October issue of Cook’s Illustrated. Usually when I flip through my food magazines, I make decisions on what to cook based on pictures of the food. And, I have to admit, this generally works for me, but sometimes the food looks better in the picture than it tastes. Cook’s Illustrated recipes almost always taste better than they look. Have you seen the pictures in Cook’s Illustrated? I understand if you've missed the 3-inch by 4-inch black and white pictures. They are a bit underwhelming, but when I find a recipe I want to make in Cook’s Illustrated, I know it will turn out well. I also know I am making my decision on the ingredients and technique not on a beautiful picture.

When I saw the recipe for Apple Upside-Down Cake, I knew I wanted to try it. I love this cake. The apples are sweet, tender and flavorful, and the cake with a touch of cornmeal is the perfect balance to the apples. My whole family loves this cake.

Apple Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, plus extra for pan
4 Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples (about 2 pounds), peeled and cored
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round pan with 2-inch high sides, and set aside. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the apples in half from pole to pole, and slice 2 apples into ¼ inch slices. Slice the remaining 2 apples into ½ inch slices. Heat butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add the ½ -inch apple slices and cook stirring 2 or 3 times until the apples begin to caramelize, about 4 to 6 minutes (But don’t fully cook the apples). Add the ¼ -inch apple slices, brown sugar and lemon juice, and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the apple are coated, about 1 minute longer. Transfer the apple mixture to the prepared pan and press lightly into an even layer. Set aside while preparing the cake.

Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt together in medium bowl, and set aside. Whisk granulated sugar, brown sugar and eggs together in a large bowl until thick and thoroughly mixed, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter until combined. Add sour cream and vanilla, and whisk until combined. Add flour mixture and whisk just until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly over the apples. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake come out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool the cake 20 minutes in the pan. Run a paring knife around the sides of the cake to loosen it, and place a wire rake over the cake pan. Holding the rack tightly, invert the cake pan and wire rack together. Lift the cake pan off the cake, and place the wire rack over a sheet pan to catch any drips. If any fruit sticks to the pan, remove and place in any bare spots. Let the cake cool another 20 minutes then place the cake on a serving platter and serve. Serves 8.

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