Apple-Upside Down Cake (Original Post 9/8/11)

This is a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Season 10 DVD. I actually own this and just got around to watching all the episodes and since apple season is pretty much upon us, I wanted to post this.



4 TBS. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, plus extra for the pan

4 Granny Smith apples ( about 2 pounds), peeled and cored. (see note)

2/3 cup packed (4 2/3 ounces) light brown sugar

2 tsp. juice from 1 lemon


1 cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 TBS. cornmeal (optional, see note)

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. table salt

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed (1 3/4 ounces) light brown sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

6 TBS. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract


For the topping:

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch wide by 2-inch high round cake pan; set aside. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Halve the apples from pole to pole. Cut 2 apples into 1/4 inch thick slices; set aside. Cut the remaining 2 apples into 1/2 inch thick slices. Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the 1/2 inch thick apple slices and cook, stirring two to three times, until the apples begin to caramelize, 4 to 6 minutes. (Do not fully cook the apples) Add the 1/4 inch thick apple slices, brown sugar and lemon juice; continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the apples are coated, about 1 minute longer. Transfer the apple mixture to the prepared pan and lightly press into an even layer. Set aside while preparing the cake.

For the Cake:

Whisk the flour, cornmeal (if using), baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk the sugars and the eggs together in a large bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in the butter until combined. Add the sour cream and vanilla; whisk until combined. Add the flour mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly over the fruit. Lightly tap the pan against the countertop two or three times to settle the batter. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick  inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.

Cool the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a small knife around the sides of the cake to loosen. Place a wire rack over the cake pan. Holding the rack tightly, invert the cake pan and wire rack together; lift off cake pan. Place the wire rack over a baking sheet or large plate to catch any drips. If any fruit sticks to the pan bottom, remove and position it on top of cake. Cool the cake 20 minutes (or longer to cool it completely) then transfer it to a serving platter, cut into pieces and serve.


We like the slight coarseness that cornmeal adds to the cake, but it is fine to omit it. Golden Delicious apples can be substituted for the Granny Smith apples. You will need a 9-inch non stick cake pan with sides that are at least 2 inches high; anything shallower and the cake will overflow. Alternatively, a 10-inch ovenproof stainless steel skillet (don’t use cast iron) can be used to both cook the apples and bake the cake, with the following modifications: Cook the apples in the skillet and set them aside while mixing the the batter. (It’s okay if the skillet is still warm when the batter is added) and increase the baking time by 7 to 9 minutes. If you don’t have either a 2 inch high cake pan or an ovenproof skillet, use an 8-inch square pan. This recipe serves 8 people.


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