Friday, December 11, 2015

Apple Rum Upside Down Cake

We are knee deep into the season of festive boozy desserts and I thought I’d add one that is also a very comforting kind of dessert.  With a splash of rum and a dash of spice, this cake fills the bill.  And since I’m always looking for ways to incorporate fresh fruit into my pastries and desserts, I decided a nice thin layer of apples baked in a brown butter and brown sugar rum topping would lift this cake to a soothing splendor.

This is an adult cake, but I'm careful to use alcohol in desserts for enhanced flavor rather than to overwhelm.  For the topping, I browned the butter and also added a tablespoon of rum and some spice to give the apples more complexity.  The cake itself has a pinch of nutmeg to complement the rum.  This is pretty easy to prepare and even easier to share when the mood strikes and you're in the company of good friends. 

I hope you’re feeling the spirit of the season and enjoying lots of holiday cheer.  Now is an especially good time to think about ways to give back and share the bounty in our lives with our community and loved ones.  Enjoy!

Bench notes:
- I like Fuji or Gala apples for this recipe.
- I use a parchment circle on the bottom of the pan to make removal of the cake easy and quick.
- Whenever preparing upside down cake, don’t let the fruit sit in the bottom of the pan with the sugar mixture for more than a few minutes. When fruit comes into contact with sugar, it begins to macerate and may produce an excess of juices, which may affect the texture of the cake.  So lay down the fruit just before you’re ready to begin mixing the cake.
- For the topping, it won’t take long to brown the small amount of butter so you’ll need to work fast.  Remember: when browning butter, both the pan and the butter get very hot.  That means that even when you’ve taken it off the heat, it will continue to brown from the residual heat.  So it’s important to have the remaining topping ingredients and the prepared cake pan ready to go because you’ll need to quickly stop the cooking after you take the butter off the heat.  Just as it looks like it’s reached an amber color, lift up the pan and swirl it a few times to watch its progress.  When it’s reached a bit darker brown, quickly stir in the remaining topping ingredients and pour into the prepared pan.  Remove the vanilla bean and swirl to evenly distribute the topping across the bottom to the edges of the pan.
- If you don’t have a vanilla bean for the topping, add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract when you add the sugar, rum and spice to the browned butter.
- Cut the apples into thin slices so they'll have the right texture in the time it takes the cake to bake.
- To avoid gummy cake, always let cake cool completely on a wire rack to allow the crumb to set, about 2 - 3 hours after removing it from the pan.

Apple Rum Upside Down Cake
Serves 8

2 oz (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/4 vanilla bean                  
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (4 1/2 oz) dark brown sugar, packed                  
1 tablespoon rum                           
heaping 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
slight pinch salt
2 medium (about 13 oz) apples

1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz) flour                                                 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder                                     
1/4 teaspoon salt
generous 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup (4 oz) milk @ room temperature                        
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) rum                                                                    
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 oz (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter @ room temperature                          
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) dark brown sugar, packed
2 eggs @ room temperature
Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Lightly grease a 9” x 2 1/2” round cake pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. 

To make the topping, place 2 oz of butter in a saucepan.  Split and scrape 1/4 vanilla bean and add to the butter in the saucepan along with the pod.  Brown the butter over medium low heat.  Just as it begins to look like it’s almost ready, take the pan off the heat and swirl.  When it gets to the right color, quickly add brown sugar, rum, spices and a slight pinch of salt and stir to combine.  Pour into the prepared cake pan, remove the vanilla bean and swirl to distribute evenly across and to the edges of the pan .  

Peel, core and cut the apples into thin slices.  Arrange them in the bottom of the pan in an overlapping pattern.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg and set aside.  Combine milk, rum and vanilla and set aside.

Beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 - 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated and emulsified before adding the next and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add a third of the flour mixture alternately with half the milk, beginning and ending with the flour.  Mix just until blended, scraping down the bowl and incorporating everything together as you go.  Pour the batter into the pan and carefully spread evenly to the edges without dislodging the fruit.

Bake until golden and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes.  Place on a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes.  Invert the cake, remove the parchment and cool for at least 2 – 3 hours.


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Author of Girl Meets Rye and Tartine Bread Experiment

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Anonymous said...

Apple suggestions for the upside down cake? Our Granny Smiths and golden delicious have been mushy and awful recently

pastry studio said...

I like Fujis, Galas or Braeburns. I recently had some funky Granny Smiths, too. Bummer!

Catering Den Haag said...

Need to make these immediately! My mouth is watering!

L'Intello gourmand said...

Wow! Une tatin au rhum!