Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Heavenly Cake Bakers: Apple Upside-Down Cake

Hello folks, welcome to the Heavenly Cake Bakers a day late. This week's cake was the Apple Upside-Down Cake. It's the very first cake in Rose Levy Beranbaum's new book, Rose's Heavenly Cakes.

The recipe calls for a pound of apple slices -- two large apples. Rose's apples must be REALLY large because it took a lot more than that for me. Of course, I did have to cut away quite a few bad spots. I don't think I'll buy that particular brand of organic apples again (Honeycrisps). I had to throw in a pear for good measure.

Next step, toss the apple slices with brown sugar and lemon juice, then drain. Add juices to melted butter and more brown sugar (I used ground-up Turbinado sugar) and simmer. Rose said to simmer for 3 minutes, but it took longer for me. And I wish I'd cooked it a little longer for a darker color. Pour caramel into bottom of pan, layer on apples (I got two layers).

Next comes the cake batter. We don't publish the recipes for this group, but this one is basically a 3/4 recipe of "Rose's Favorite Yellow Cake" from her blog. I make two changes -- I substituted whole wheat pastry flour for 1/3 of the cake flour, and I used 1 1/2 whole eggs instead of 3 egg yolks. Also, I beat the batter longer, because I have a hand-held power mixer, not a stand mixer.

The batter was very thick, which is typical of Rose's recipes. I spread it around on top of the apples as best I could. But, it looks like I left some bubbles of air, most likely down where the apples & batter came together. After about 10 minutes in the oven, the cake had developed many huge air bubbles on top, some of which were starting to turn brown! I popped them with a toothpick and kept baking...

The cake was very brown on top after 35 minutes, a thin knife came out clean, and it was even starting to pull away from the sides. So I took it out and inverted it on a plate. Oh ****! It was obviously gooey and underbaked near the apple layer. Thinking fast, I put it (still on the plate) back in the oven for 10 more minutes. (Fortunately the plate was oven-proof.) Hey, that worked!

The caramel top was not as brown as I'd like (and I did use the baking stone), but the cake was still very tasty despite all the problems. Rose's yellow cake is extremely tender and fine-grained, and has a wonderful taste. To my taste it is a bit crumbly in texture, though. I am realizing that I have a preference for cakes with a more springy and slightly more firm texture. Can't wait for next week's chiffon cake!

For this cake? I'd definitely make it again, but next time I'll try moving the rack even closer to the bottom of the oven, turning the oven down a bit (I think it runs hotter when I am baking towards the bottom then when I bake in the middle), and running a knife or thin spatula through the batter to try and get rid of large bubbles. Plus, I'd like a touch of spice -- a bit of lemon zest in the batter, and a dusting of cinnamon, mace, allspice or nutmeg on the apples.


ButterYum said...

Hi Barbara - great write up! I actually used 3 apples... and I would call them med-large size.

I also got a few more air bubbles than usual... I think they're from where the apples and cake batter meet, just a hunch.

Anyway, if you drop your pan on the counter from a few inches above, you'll force that batter down into the spaces around the apples and hopefully release some of those bubbles before the cake goes into the oven.

I too will make a note to lower the oven rack next time. I used dark brown sugar, caramelized the sugar very well, and preheated my stone for an hours and still didn't get as dark a bottom as I would have liked. Next time!

Jenn said...

Hi Barbara, I used Honey Crisp organic too and they were very good - no bad spots. Usually when I bought organic Golden Delicious they have several small sized bad spots. This being said, I usually inspect things carefully before I buy them (you should see me inspecting a slab of brie cheese - the guy behind the counter actually ask me if I need some help LOL).
Patricia - it seems like every time you post a blog entry or a comment I learn something from you. I will have to remember the "drop the pan" technique next time.