Upside Down Apple Cake
I started out intending to make an apple pie. I missed. Somewhere in the recipe thinking process, I shifted gears, probably because I didn't want to hassle with making a pie crust. Yes, I could have bought the crust. After all, some of the ready-made brands aren't too terribly bad. But I didn't want to go to the store. And I didn't want to use the food processor, as my husband was asleep, and, well, the processor is more than a tad noisy. So, I opted for an easy to make apple cake. The cake has the benefits of apple pie--plenty of juicy, sweet-tart apples cooked so they are just tender. About five minutes in the microwave before layering the apples in the pan ensures the apples are adequately cooked, neither too raw or too mushy. The cake layer is a simple to mix variety that requires no special equipment, just a whisk and spoon or spatula. The cake takes about an hour to bake, then it's flipped over on a plate so that the apple layer is on top. And oh, what an apple layer! Sweet spices and a few dried cranberries and nuts add to the appeal. No boring pie pastry here, either. The apples crown a moist light cake that is barely flavored with orange. Try the cake warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. You'll be happy you ditched the fussy pie.
Upside Down Apple Cake -- Makes a 9-10-inch cake
4 cups of peeled, sliced apples (preferably Granny Smith, but use what you have and
slice them about 1/4-inch thick)
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each of allspice, nutmeg, and cloves
1/2 cup of canola oil
2/3 cup of buttermilk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of orange juice
2 cups of fall-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2-3 tablespoons of dried cranberries
2-3 tablespoons of nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans)
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
In a large, microwave-safe bowl combine the apples, dark brown sugar, butter, and spices and microwave the mixture for about 5 minutes, stirring mid-way through the cooking time. The apples should be barely firm at the end of the cooking time.
While the apples are cooking, line a 9- or 10-inch spring-form pan with parchment paper and coat the parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray. If the bottom of the pan isn't especially tight-fitting, wrap the bottom with aluminum foil (on the outside). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, sugar, and orange juice until well blended. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir until the ingredients are just combined (don't whisk or stir much, and don't worry if you will have some lumps--you will). Sprinkle the bottom of the prepared pan with the 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar. Sprinkle on the dried cranberries and nuts. Then spoon on the microwaved apple filling evenly, spreading the apples out to the edges of the pan. Pour on the cake batter and smooth it out. Bake the cake for about an hour until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with no wet batter on it. Let the cake cool for about 5 minutes, then put a plate over the top of the cake and flip the cake, inverting the top to the bottom. Remove the sides and bottom of the spring-form pan carefully (they're hot!) and peel away the parchment. Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes and serve it warm with ice cream or even whipped cream. Ice cream is always better.