I can’t remember the last time I baked an upside down cake. I was gently reminded of its existence from one of the Great British Bake Off episodes where the contestants were asked to make their signature upside down cake in one of the challenges.
On a particularly warm afternoon, when I just wanted to make something simple, something unfussy, I decided to bake an upside down cake. This cake falls in the category of baked treats to make when you are feeling warm, terribly lazy yet want to indulge in something sweet.
The only alternative that is quicker than this is to go out and buy one. However, if you decide to go with home-baked, I can assure you that this upside down cake would not disappoint – it doesn’t take up much time or effort, minimum washing up, yet it delivers so much on flavour and texture.
This upside down apple and blueberry cake is a variation of its better known sibling, the old-fashioned upside down pineapple cake. Its history dates back to the 1920s where American housewives would line their frying pans with pineapple rings with maraschino cherries, filling, baking and then flipping it over a plate. This method of making the cake allowed them to bake a stunning cake without much sophisticated equipment.
Fast-forward to 2012, almost a century later, I think that people still appreciate a good upside down pineapple (or any fruit for that matter) cake – its moistness, tender crumb, topped with softened, caramelised fruit. It still does scream rustic beauty even though you would hardly call it refined or elegant.
Okay, for me, I would still choose to do away with the overly-sweetened canned pineapples and the overly red maraschino cherries (I really do not like that stuff!). However, fresh pineapple would be great, just like what Thomas Keller did in his version (psst..the photo of his upside down pineapple cake looks delectable!)
I didn’t really fan out the apples too neatly as you can probably tell yet you would probably not mind it because it is supposed to be rustic. That’s what so forgiving about this cake – clumsy and imperfect arrangement is embraced as a mark of home-baked goodness.
I hope that I’ve inspired you to hunker down and bake an upside cake this weekend or on any lazy weekend. Let’s celebrate this rustic beauty!
Recipe: Upside down apple and blueberry cake
Makes a 9-inch round cake
Adapted from Upside down Pineapple cake from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home
I made slight changes to Thomas Keller’s recipe as well as choosing to use apples and berries in place of pineapples. I don’t know about you but baked apples with cinnamon is like rainbows and polka dots to me – it can do no wrong. An afternoon would be made perfect with a warm slice of this moist, fluffy cake topped with softened and juicy apples and berries. Or you can bake one with your favourite fruit just like he suggested.
For Pan schmear
57g unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 tbsp honey
1 tsp brandy
100g light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3 *apples (suitable for baking)
60g fresh blueberries
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
For the cake
113g unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk
120g cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
*Apples suitable for baking are those that have well-balanced sweetness and acidity and tender soft yet still able to hold its form and not turned into mush after being baked/cooked. Baking apples include Braeburn, Royal Gala, Golden Delicious and Jazz.
Do not use Red Delicious apples as they will turn mushy when baked. Fuji apples are not encouraged as well as they are valued for their crispiness instead of their sweetness. They don’t provide the apple cake the sweetness or “apple-ness” that it deserves, also, they tend to be firmer after being baked than other apples.
Granny smiths have good texture when being baked but they tend to be more tart so unless you love tartness, it is better to use a mixture of Granny Smiths with a sweeter variety.
1. Prepare the pan schmear: Using a paddle attachment, cream the butter with honey, rum, brown sugar, salt and vanilla and beat until smooth and well-incorporated.
2. Prepare your cake tin: line and butter the baking parchment if you are not using a silicon mould. Spread the schmear over the bottom of a 9-inch cake tin.
3. Peel, core and slice the apples into 1/8 inch thickness. Sprinkle the ground cinnmon and nutmeg over the apple slices and mix well. Beginning at the perimeter of the pan, make an overlapping ring of applesslices with the curved side facing out. Make a second ring inside the ﬁrst one, overlapping the slices in the opposite direction, working toward the center of the pan. Scatter the blueberries over the top.
4. Prepare the cake: Cream the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed to combine, then beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until pale and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Add in the vanilla.
5. Add the eggs one at a time, beat until well-combined and scraping down the sides as necessary. Add in the milk. Add the sifted dry ingredients in 3 batches, until just incorporated.
6. Pour the cake batter over the apple slices and spread the batter neatly with a spatula knife. Knock the cake tin twice against the counter top. Bake in a 175 degrees celcius, preheated oven for about 50 minutes, rotating the cake tin mid way for even browning. The cake is done when it is golden brown and spring back to touch.
7. Cool the cake in the cake tin for about 10 minutes before running a knife around the edges before flipping it over a serving plate. The cake is best served warm though it still taste great at room temperature.
*Cake can be stored at room temperature for 2 days. Or you keep the cake for up to a month if you clingwrap the completely cooled cake and store it in the freezer.