What is it about fall that sends us into baking mode? Does that nip in the air propel us to the kitchen, whisk in hand? Gearing up for the holiday season to come? Meanwhile the markets are brimming with pumpkins and other squashes that work oh-so-well with sweet spices. And of course there are the apples. Lots and lots of apples–over 7500 varieties of apples! Despite such delicious diversity, I still find Granny Smiths to be the best for baking because their tartness provides balance to all the sugar, plus they hold their shape well. This apple gingerbread upside-down cake reminds us of all that is good about this time of year.
The recipe is adapted from one of my favorite comfort food books–The Passionate Palate. The subtitle “Recipes for Cooking Up a Delicious Life” sums it up well–not only filled with recipes for good old-fashioned comfort food, it’s also packed with practical tips on how to better manage stress in your life. Who couldn’t use a little help there? It’s an older title but still a good read if you happen across a copy.
This cake is rich with molasses, but the apples cut that sweetness and make the cake super moist. If you feel this is too much molasses for your taste buds, feel free to go halvsies with some honey. Once you throw this together, sit back and relax as the aroma of ginger, cinnamon, and molasses wafts through your kitchen. Have a cup of tea waiting, and serve this warm, topped with some brandied whipped cream or buttermilk ice cream. Indulge.
Start by creaming together the butter and brown sugar. Then add the egg, molasses, and lemon peel, and mix until well blended.
Meanwhile sift together the dry ingredients. Thanks to Joy the Baker, we now know that a whisk can accomplish the same thing as a sifter but without all the fuss. Mix this into the butter/sugar mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, until everything is all good and blended.
Meanwhile melt the butter in the baking dish, sprinkle it with half the brown sugar, then arrange the apples in the pan. Top that with the pecans if you’re using them (I forgot mine at the store), along with the remaining brown sugar and cinnamon. Pour the batter over this and then bake.
Waiting for this to cool enough to eat is the hard part. Top this with some whipped cream or ice cream, and you’re good to go!
Here’s the printer friendly version:
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 egg, beaten
- ¾ cup mild molasses
- 1 tsp grated lemon peel
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1¼ cups flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1½ tsp cinnamon
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp butter
- ½ cup pecans, toasted & chopped (optional)
- 2-3 tart apples, thinly sliced
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a mixer bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add the egg, molasses, and grated lemon peel, and beat until blended.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, spices, and baking soda. Alternate adding the buttermilk milk and flour to the butter/sugar mixture until thoroughly blended. Set aside.
- For the topping, melt the butter in a 9×9-inch baking pan. Sprinkle ¼ cup brown sugar evenly over butter. Sprinkle the toasted pecans evenly over the brown sugar, if used. Arrange the apples in the pan in overlapping layers. Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar and cinnamon over apples. Pour the batter over the apple mixture.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let this cool for just a few minutes, then place a heatproof serving plate upside down over pan; turn plate and pan over. Leave pan over cake a few minutes so brown sugar mixture can drizzle over cake; remove pan.
- Best served warm, topped with brandied whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.