"Let's do fall things!" is often heard in my house as the days get chillier. Gone are the days of lounging away at the beach and returning to grill an al fresco dinner. Rather the fireplace is getting more use and the oven is back to work producing comforting dishes to stave off the coming colder weather.
As a born and bred New Englander leaf peeping and apple picking are in my blood. I love biting into a fresh juicy apple while strolling the orchards looking for the best picks. Then I get home and reality sets in. What does one do with 10 pounds of apples?
I have plans for ciders and tarts and pies, but the first thing I always make is Ina Garten's Apple Tatin Cake. It's my husband's (hey first time writing that since I got married!) favorite and it's so easy yet so elegant. It has a completely distinct flavor, lemony and delicate with hints of apple, which is a nice reprieve from heavier pie flavors. I know you'll love it too! So if you've got some apples to use up, read on!
This is a fun cake to make because you actually build it upside down. I recommend a glass pie plate but couldn't find mine so I used a metal cake pan. Before you do anything else, set your oven to 350 degrees.
As far as ingredients go it's fairly simple. It's a caramel apple topping over a sour cream cake. Here's what you need for the top of the cake:
1 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of water
To make the top you're going to peel and slice the apples and arrange them on the bottom of the dish. This is actually going to form the top of the cake so whatever design you do will be visible when you flip it.
To make the caramel you simply add your sugar and water to a sauce pan and swirl (don't stir). At Ina's recommendation I purchased a candy thermometer a few years ago and have yet to use it. I always went by eye but realized after making this that I have been pulling the mixture off too early before it really caramelizes. In full disclosure I left it on too long this time so it has a very dark color. It still tasted fine, but you want to aim for 340 degrees and a golden brown color.
Once your caramel is done pour it over your apples and set aside.
For the cake:
6 tablespoons of butter at room temperature
1/3 cup of sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
**I added a 1/4 teaspoon of pear brandy but that's optional
I made this in my stand mixer, but did it by hand for years and it came out just fine. First cream your sugar and butter.
Next add your eggs.
Add your sour cream.
Add the lemon zest (don't skip this, it's EVERYTHING)
Finally add your dry ingredients slowly
Mix it until it's blended. It will be a fluffy batter. Pour it over the apple and caramel mixture.
Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees.
Here's the fun part, once it's out allow it to cool. Place the plate or cake stand on top of the baking dish and channel your inner Julia Child. In one confident movement flip the cake over so that the apple mixture is on top.
Cover in powdered sugar and serve.
I love this cake because the apples are integral but it's not the same heavy apple pie flavor that is so prevalent during the fall. It's actually quite light and airy and has a nice lemony flavor. It's great with a little afternoon coffee or tea and as a dessert it's a lovely way to end a meal without feeling overly full.
What's your favorite way to use up all of those apples?