This is the best upside-down cake ever—the maple syrup infuses the apples and the cake and makes the whole thing taste like a stack of applely pancakes. Serve warm with creme fraiche, unsweetened whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.
Makes one 10-inch cake
• 1 3/4 cups maple syrup • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 4 granny smith or other firm tart apples, peeled, cored, cut into eighths • 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt • 2 eggs, at room temperature
• 2 yolks, at room temperature • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
• 1 tablespoon vanilla • 1/2 pound butter
• 1 1/3 cups sugar
In a small saucepan boil maple syrup till thickened and dark, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in 2 tablespoons butter. Grease and flour a 10-inch cake pan. Pour maple syrup into pan. Arrange apples in concentric circles in bottom of pan, making a second layer if needed.
Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt in a small bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, yolks, buttermilk, vanilla. Using paddle attachment of a stand mixer, cream butter with sugar for about six or seven minutes on medium speed until light, pale and fluffy. Scrape sides of bowl and paddle. Add about one third of dry mixture to butter/sugar and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds until dry mixture is almost all incorporated. Add about one half of egg/buttermilk mixture and mix again on low speed until almost thoroughly incorporated. Stop mixer and scrape sides and paddle. Add another third of dry mix on low speed and mix until almost entirely incorporated. Add rest of liquid mixture and mix until almost entirely incorporated. Remove mixing bowl from mixer and fold the remaining dry mixture by hand.
Dollop batter on top of apples and maple syrup and spread evenly in pan. Place in preheated 350 degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until the middle of the cake springs back when you poke it with your finger. Remove from oven and let cool for about an hour. Invert carefully onto a serving plate while still warm so that the apples release from the pan. Rearrange any misplaced apples and serve with creme fraiche.
To read Joanne's article about how the importance of temperature in baking, click here.