Apple Cranberry Upside Down

Winter is creeping up slowly over the northern hemisphere. Some places have seen their season's first snowfall. In the parts where I live, the tress are shedding their leaves with every gust of wind. The crunch of the dried leaves on the walkways, the chilly mornings and windy evenings make me think of hot beverages and apple pie.

upside down cake

Ok, so this is not Apple Pie. I have made plenty of versions of that before, including a tart. I wanted something more basic, something that was just...cake. And Apple cakes are so...underrated. You don't get them easily in bakeries and if you do manage to get your hands on something that's 'apple', you will be hard pressed to find any trace of apple within. This Dutch Apple Cake I tried a couple of years back was what had me thinking about apples in cake. I even had a go at Apple Kuchen once (Kuchen translates to 'Cake' in German), which was more like a sweet bread (yeast risen!) topped with apples. Good, but not 'apple-y' enough. When I recently went on a Upside-Down spree (with cake, before you imagine anything else),  I remembered this cake from my files and decided to go make it while my Upside-Down enthusiasm was still there.

I know this is not one of those 'classic' cakes, but. Apple Cakes have been around for years. Apple cakes are made for Hanukkah. Cakes and muffins made with apple sauce have been seen since the 20th century. This cake, though not a traditional apple cake, tastes extraordinary. The cake below is ultra rich and buttery, with slight hints of vanilla and lemon. The topping is where the magic lies. The apples sink into the amber caramel as the cake cooks, with each slice taking on a burnished brown hue. The caramel, since there is a lot of it, also seeps into the cake, which feels like you drowned the cake in toffee. Some of the apple slices sink totally into the cake. The cranberries loose their sourness and become sweet sticky bursts of flavour in between the apple slices.  The cake is best served warm, so if you eat it the next day (i.e. if it lasts) make sure you give it a turn in the microwave. I assure you, it works wonders.



Apple Cranberry Upside Down
Adapted from John Whaite from the BBC The Great British Bake Off

The cake in its original form is called Toffee Apple Upside Down and called for orange zest in the topping. I however had only lemon zest and not quite the amount of butter originally called for, so I made a smaller 6 inch cake (which is about half the size of the original cake). It also called for a caramel crown, which would have made it a fantastic centre piece/dessert for a dinner party but I was too lazy. Don't worry, the cake tastes just as good without it.

For the apple topping:

100g sugar
2 medium or 1 large large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and sliced in 1cm/½in wedges
Zest of 2 small lemon (nimbu) or limes
50 gm dried cranberries

For the cake

110g/4oz salted butter, softened
110g/4oz demerrara sugar
110gm/4oz plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 at room temperature
30ml/2 tbsp whole milk
½ tsp vanilla extract

To make the cake:

1.Grease 6 inch round cake tin butter. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2.For the topping, put a non stick pan over a high heat. Add the sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons of water and cook until it the sugar melts and turns amber – do not stir at any point.

3. Remove from the heat and carefully pour the toffee into the baking tin and cover the base completely. Place the apple wedges on top of the caramel and sprinkle with a third of the lemon zest. Add the cranberries in any gaps between the apple.

4.For the cake, beat the butter, vanilla, remaining lemon zest and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 5-8 minutes.

5. Sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and add a tablespoon of this to the butter mix along with one egg. Repeat the process with the second egg and add the rest of the flour. Mix until combined. Stir in the milk. Pour into cake tin and gently smooth with a spatula. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

6. Using oven gloves, place a cooling rack over the tin and quickly flip over, taking care not to burn yourself on any hot caramel that may leak from the tin. Remove from the tin and set aside to cool completely.

apple cake


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