21 January 2011

Calvados Apple Upside Down Cake

I know! I promised myself to cut the sweets a bit in the New Year, but when I invite friends to dinner I must make dessert. Please pardon my expediency when I say that I have been meaning to figure out how to make a consistently good up-side down cake ... so ... I sat thinking about it the other afternoon, as I was planning the menu for last night's 'friends dinner'.  Yesterday afternoon, I plugged away at a recipe for a dense (almost bread-y) lemon flavored cake that has a double layer of tart apples and a Calvados-laced caramel syrup that soaks the top of the cake.

I have never had a lot of success with getting an upside down cake to release its gooey fruit topping without having to 'reconstruct' the fruit arrangement, so I really plotted this one out ... and by George! I think I've got it! The key was to grease the spring form pan and then place an oversized round of waxed paper in the bottom and up the sides. Then, I lightly buttered that paper, too. This paper served two functions. It kept the caramel sauce from leaking out of the bottom seal of the pan and it formed a sheath to keep the fruit in place when I flipped the cake onto its cake plate. I used an icing spatula to gently slide between the waxed paper and the fruit layer, while it was still a bit warm and voila! The top was picture perfect.

So... if you're of a mind ... make this cake and serve it warm  ... with whipped cream ... or a dusting of confectioner's sugar ... or a sweet lemon and sugar drizzle... or more Calvados caramel sauce ... and some hot tea or coffee. It's delicious!

Even the leftovers are great warmed up and given some fresh whipped cream!

Calvados Apple Upside Down Cake
adapted from Fresh Apple Cake in The Basic Gourmet Entertains

Calvados Caramel Sauce:

½ c. packed light brown sugar
¼ tsp. five spice powder
2 tbsp. Calvados brandy
1 – 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
Cake Batter:

1 c. unsalted butter, softened
2 c. sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
zest of one large lemon
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. five spice powder
pinch salt
1 c. plus a bit more buttermilk
2 large tart apples (Granny Smith apples), peeled, cored, and sliced into ¼-inch pieces

Making the Caramel Sauce:
Combine the brown sugar, brandy, and five spice powder in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir and continue boiling for 3-5 minutes until the sauce coats the spoon and forms a soft drip that clings to the spoon. Lower the heat and stir in the butter and continue stirring until the sauce is smooth and shiny. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Making the Cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan.

2. Cut a piece of waxed paper that is a bit larger than the diameter of the pan and press it into the bottom and us the sides of the pan. Smooth it around the sides and then lightly butter the paper. Set aside.

3. Peel, core, and slice the apples and lay them in concentric circles around the bottom of the pan. Form two layers.

4. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the lemon zest and vanilla and continue beating a bit.

5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each until the batter is creamy and smooth.

6. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and five-spice powder together in a separate bowl.

7. Alternately add the flour and buttermilk and beat to form a thick batter.

8. Re heat the caramel sauce briefly so that you can drizzle it. Drizzle over the apple layer in the bottom of the springform pan.

9. Turn the batter into the pan in large spoonsful and gently spread it, so as not to dislodge the apples.

10. Bake for about 55 minutes to one hour or until a cake tester comes clean.

11. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes. Then. run a knife around the outer edge and release the spring form clamp. Remove the ring and continue cooling for another 5 minutes.

12. Flip the cake onto a pretty serving plate and lift the bottom of he pan.

13. Gently lift the edges of the waxed paper from the sides of the cake and use a blunt knife or icing spatula to run between the paper and the apple/caramel layer, as you continue to gently lift the paper free from the cake.

14. Cool the cake and then drizzle with lemon sugar glaze, another batch of caramel glaze, confectioner’s sugar OR leave the cake to be re-warmed and served with whipped cream.

Mom said that it's good luck for the cook if she gets the whole peel off the apple in one piece!

Two layers of apple slices formed a layer for the Calvados caramel drizzle and left little air pockets for the cake batter to fill.

The caramel sauce was easy to make - brown sugar, Calvados brandy, five spice powder, and butter.

This was a heavy and dense batter that made for a cake with a thick, moist crumb.

One hour in a 350° F oven and the cake was golden and perfect.

The wax paper layer in the bottom of the spring form really worked for me. I simply lifted the edges gently and ran the icing spatula along the waxed paper as I continued to lift the paper free.

Whipped cream chilling and waiting for dessert time!

Pssst! One year ago today ...  - Potato Leek Soup

Double Pssst! - A nice little honor was passed to me from Lisa @ SWEET AS SUGAR COOKIES ! She has asked that this cake post be a part of her first ever 'Sweets for a Saturday' post share. What a great idea and a fun recipe/post exchange! Please head on over via the link provided and check out her blog and all the decadent and yummy sweets that folks have shared!


  1. ooooh i've been talking about pineapple upside cake for weeks now and really want to make some... this has inspired me!... looks so beautiful too x

  2. that must have been one delicious cake!! I just love upside down cakes and the calvados was such a nice touch to liven up the caramel!

  3. I wonder if I can make it in my cast iron skillet? I will have to try it.I love your blog.

  4. You make this cake sound so appetizing and your picture with that glistening layer of apples is certainly drawing me in. I have a new linky on my blog called "Sweets for a Saturday" and I'd like to invite you to stop by and link this up. http://sweet-as-sugar-cookies.blogspot.com/2011/01/sweets-for-saturday-1_21.html

  5. thats a great tip on keeping the fruits on your cake intact! this looks delicious!

  6. This is a beautiful looking cake. I want to attempt an upside down cake soon!

  7. Your apple cake looks delicious! I like your step-by-step pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    I'm having the very first GIVEAWAY on my blog. Please stop by to submit an entry. Good Luck.

  8. Thanks so much for linking this up with Sweets for a Saturday. I truly appreciate your support. Hope to see you again next week. By then, I'll have a cute button that you can grab and add to your post.

  9. Oh this looks delicious! I've copied it down. Bill hates pineapple but likes apples so I'll have to try this. I never have brandy on hand..wonder how rum would taste. I'll have to try it. ;) Now....to get some apples. I just went to the store yesterday, dang. That means I'll go back for just apples and spend another $100 lol. Have a wonderful day! Thank you for the recipe. :)

    ~ Kim

  10. Oh I just KNOW this would taste like heaven! Love the caramel sauce IN the cake!

  11. Problem solved. Thanks for tips on producing a cake which isn't divorced from its fruit. Yum, yum, yum. I love apple cake

  12. I love upside down cakes. They are so pretty. I just received a pile of organic apples in my csa. This recipe looks like a great way to use them.



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