Oooh, we are feeling the chill around here – last night was under 40 degrees. Sorry little garden sprouts, no Indian Summer in the forecast yet. Oh well. The lettuces and arugula and bok choy are growing just fine. It’s the greens that worry me. That and my bike ride to work. Must dig out all my warm things, I was nearly frozen to the bike by the time I arrived.
Yesterday I left work early for no good reason (well, I also have to work this Saturday, so that seemed like a good enough reason) and came home and finished my book, made a huge pot of chili (full of gorgeous peppers from the garden, both green and red), and baked an apple cake. I made this cake last fall, and although it was wonderful, I realized after it was baked that I had neglected to put the baking powder in. So it was a little on the dense side. But it was still tasty so I figured it would only get better if I put all the ingredients in. Indeed. The cake part of this is a very dark, spicy, not-too-sweet gingerbread, topped by a layer of sweet, caramelized apples. And I am a sucker for interesting fruity upside down cakes baked in a cast iron skillet. The moment when you turn ‘er over and get a peek at your handiwork, my favorite.
Apple Ginger Upside Down Skillet Cake
For the topping:
1/2 stick unsalted butter
4 peeled and sliced apples (pick a tart baking apple)
2/3 cup brown sugar
For the cake:
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup molasses
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped candied ginger
This cake bakes up perfectly in a 12 inch cast iron skillet. Anything smaller and you might be better off making two small cakes - adjust baking time accordingly if you go this route.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a large cast iron skillet. Swirl butter around to coat sides of pan, then sprinkle 2/3 cup of brown sugar over bottom of pan. Cook over low heat until sugar no longer looks grainy. Remove from heat and arrange apple slices in a pattern that pleases (note: pack those apples in on top of each other; they will shrink upon baking and they are so yummy!). Set aside.
Mix boiling water and baking *soda* then set aside.
Sift together flour, spices, salt and baking *powder*.
Cream together 1 stick of butter and 2/3 cup brown sugar. Beat in molasses, eggs, fresh ginger and baking soda mixture. Add dry ingredients and candied ginger, stirring until batter is smooth. Pour batter over apple slices (should fill the pan just a little more than halfway up the sides – if you have extra bake it in another pan). Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick stabbed in the center comes out clean (mine had to go for just over 40 minutes). Let cool, then run a spatula around edge, invert cake plate or stand (hello wedding gift) on top of skillet, grab the skillet and cake plate together firmly, and turn the whole thing over like you really mean it. Eat it up!