Apple Skillet Cake

This might be the best cake I have ever made. It’s light and airy, but dense at the same time. It’s sweet and gooey but also substantial and somehow reminiscent of cornbread, in a really good way. I am officially in love with this cake and have made it my official default easy-wow-factor cake.

I made it a couple of months ago, during my first (mostly) homework-free weekend of the semester. I made it for a friend who was about to leave for France for a year, for her going away party/sleepover/girl’s night. Between five girls, we literally ate our way through the entire cake in about 20 minutes. It was pure heaven.

The recipe is adapted from The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox, which is my new favorite cookbook and which I have been (slowly) working my way through since last Christmas. Now I know it looks intricate and intimidating, but it’s really not as time-intensive as it looks and the only part that requires any concentration is the caramel prep in the beginning, but even that isn’t bad at all.

I think my favorite part, though, is the awesome pictures I took on my roommate’s coffee table. Teal owl? Yes please!

Caramelized Apple Skillet Cake
Adapted from The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox

1 cup sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 apples
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose whole wheat flour (non-whole wheat flour is fine)
3 tablespoons coarse yellow cornmeal or fine polenta
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk (I used 1%)

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In an 8-inch ovenproof skillet (I used cast-iron), combine 1/4 cup of the sugar with 2 tablespoons of water, stirring until the sugar is damp. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar turns a golden brown caramel, about 2 minutes. turn off the heat and whisk in 2 tablespoons of butter.

Peel the apples and slice thinly. Tightly shingle all of the slices over the caramel, starting around the outside of the skillet and working toward the center, overlapping the slices. You could also core the apples and cut them into thin rings.

In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer), combine the remaining sugar (3/4 cup) and butter (6 tbsp) with the vanilla. Beat on medium speed with a hand mixer (or the electric mixer) until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg yolks one at a time.

In a second bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the sugar/butter mixture in increments, alternating with the milk.

In another bowl (or the emptied, cleaned, and dried electric mixer bowl), beat the egg whites into soft peaks. Fold the whites into the batter in increments.

Pour the batter into the skillet, on top of the apples. Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, for about 50 minutes. Let cool for 20-30 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert onto a large plate.

And there you have it! A delicious, rustic, beautiful apple upside-down cake. I highly recommend it. I’ve been totally MIA this semester; it’s been one of the craziest of my college career! But my exam period is looking a bit less hectic, so maybe I’ll have time to finally get this blog started up like I’ve been wanting to do for ages. After all, Christmas baking season is upon us!!


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