Monday, October 22, 2012

Gingerbread Apple Upside-Down Cake

This delectably moist gingerbread-spiced caramelized apple upside-down cake is the perfect dessert for the chilly autumn and winter months. Dark, coppery and intensely flavoured, this delicious cake is made with dark molasses, honey, buttermilk and a trio of fragrant spices, and goes perfectly with a dollop of pillowy soft Calvados Whipped Cream or tangy creme fraiche. As tempting as it may be, don't use a springform pan with a removable bottom, as the syrup will leak out and that would be very messy as well as being enormously tragic.

Gingerbread Apple Upside-Down Cake
Serves 12

4 tbsp butter, plus extra for greasing pan
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
4 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch wedges

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup dark molasses
1/3 cup honey
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Calvados whipped cream:
1/2 cup whipping cream, chilled
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp Calvados

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 10-inch cake pan. To make the topping, melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. Add the brown sugar and simmer over medium heat, stirring for 5 minutes, then swirl in the salt. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the mixture into the cake pan, spreading with a spatula to distribute evenly. Make circles of overlapping apple slices on top of the brown sugar. Chop any remaining slices and place them in the gaps.

For the batter, blend 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup sugar in a standing mixer set on medium-low, then increase the speed to high and cream until the batter becomes light and fluffy.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, molasses, honey, buttermilk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Alternate adding the egg mixture and the flour mixture to the creamed butter-sugar mixture, then pour the batter into the cake pan.

Bake at least 45-50 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes. Run a small knife around the edges of pan to loosen the cake, then place a serving platter over the cake and invert onto the platter.

Serve warm or at room temperature with very softly whipped Calvados Whipped Cream, made by whisking the cream with the syrup and Calvados in an electric mixer until cream holds soft peaks.

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