The best part of fall in England is the amazing variety of crisp and fresh apples. Apple pie, apple crumble, apple turnovers, apple cider, applesauce, apple butter, caramel apples, apple cake, and the list goes on. With maybe the exception of the caramel apples, I'm pretty sure I would add a little or a lot of cinnamon to each of these things. Cinnamon is hands down my absolute favorite spice - I sprinkle it on anything I can. As a self-professed cinnamon addict I decided my next apple experience would not include the stuff.
My favorite cookbook of the moment - has been since June - didn't let me down. An upside-down apple cake cooked in an iron skillet and made with apple butter and topped with caramel-soaked apples. And no cinnamon.
The recipe even begins, "we decided not to resort to the overused combination of apples and cinnamon and opted instead for nutmeg and vanilla". This recipe, from the Big Sur Bakery, is multi-step, so read through before getting started. Here it goes...
APPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE
For the Apple Butter:
- 1 vanilla bean
- 6 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- juice of 1 lemon wedge
- 1/4 c apple juice
- 2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 c sugar
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 350F.
For the Caramel Apples:
- 1/4 c unsalted butter, room temp
- 1 1/4 c sugar
- 5 apples, peeled, cored, and each cut into 8 wedges
For the Cake:
- 1/2 c unsalted butter, room temp
- 1 c dark brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup of apple butter
- 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
Using a pair of kitchen towels or mitts, invert the cake onto a plate that is slightly larger than the skillet. Do this assertively. Slowly lift off the skillet. If any apples stick to the skillet, remove them gently with a spatula and place back on cake. Let cake sit for 20 min before serving.