Every September, I convince my girlfriends to go apple picking, and until we go and eat half a dozen (fine, sometimes a dozen) cider donuts in the car, it never really feels like fall. There’s something about the smell of donuts, a cup of warm cider, boots, and hayrides that get me so excited for the impeding cooler weather.
Inevitably, we pick more apples than we could possibly need, so I wind up getting creative with both sweet and savory recipes that incorporate apples. I do recommend picking both eating and baking apples so that you get the best result when using them in the recipes – eating apples frequently turn to mush when cooked. My favorite eating apple is Honeycrisp, but if you’re going to pick them, go as soon as they’re available, because every orchard runs out quickly. My favorite baking apples are Granny Smith and Gala because they aren’t overly sweet and retain their integrity when cooked.
I usually run home from my orchard trip to make an Apple Pie, but I decided that I didn’t have to this year because, even though I’ve practiced, truth be told, Apple Pie is best left to the professionals like The Chopping Block's chefs. At Apple Fest just a few weeks ago, they cranked out 615 pies! Instead, I started with Apple Crisp, Caramel Apple Bread Pudding, Apple Cobbler, and then moved onto Waldorf Salad, Chicken Braised with Apples and Onions, and then, inspired by my boyfriend’s love of pineapple upside down cake, I made an Upside Down Apple Cake. It’s the perfect fall treat, and you’ll impress your friends with not much effort at all!
Apple Upside Down Cake
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ cup dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, cut in ½ inch slices
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspooon salt
½ cup milk
2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 ½ sticks butter, melted
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan with parchment (I don’t always do this step, but with an upside down cake, you’ll be glad you did).
2. Blend the softened butter, brown sugar, and salt in your stand mixer.
3. Spread the mixture (it will be like wet sand) in the cake pan.
4. Arrange the apples in alternating concentric circles (a little overlap is totally fine!).
5. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
6. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla paste.
7. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, add melted butter, and whisk until incorporated.
8. Pour cake batter over apples.
9. Bake about 45-60 minutes until cake is set.
10. Let cake cool for 10 minutes and invert onto serving plate.
11. Serve with vanilla ice cream, or cinnamon spiced whipped cream and caramel sauce!
Caramel is relatively easy to make, but we currently carry several delicious caramels – American Spoon Salted Maple Caramel and Fat Toad Farm Goat Milk Caramel (in Cinnamon, Maple, and Original flavors).
If all this talk of apples and caramel has gotten you in the mood for some fall baking, check out our New Fall Baking Classics class on November 10 at Lincoln Square and November 18 at the Merchandise Mart. You’ll satisfy your apple cravings by learning to make Apple Fritters with Cider Glaze along with two other fall inspired desserts (Maple Pot de Crème and Pumpkin Bread with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting).
Also, if you need another excuse to try out those caramels, they’ll pair perfectly with our famous Apple Pie and classic Pumpkin Pie that we’re baking for Thanksgiving. Have you put in your order yet? Do it today!