Oct
30

Apple Upside-Down Cornmeal Cakes

Hello Design Crush readers, I’m Elizabeth – so pleased to meet you. Along with my husband Brian, I write Brooklyn Supper, a food blog dedicated to seasonal eating and living the good life. It is downright thrilling to be a guest here on Design Crush, and I really want to win you over. Experience has taught me the best way to do that is with cake.

These little apple upside-down cakes were inspired by a recent trip to the apple orchard. Like always, we made it late in the season and all of the red apples were mostly gone. But happily, there was row after row of big, crisp Mutsu apples (also called Crispins). These pale green apples have crisp flesh, and a bright, mildly grassy flavor. I love baking with them because they don’t lose their texture after a stint in the oven, and their mild flavor accommodates notes of vanilla and orange beautifully.

 

Which brings me to the cakes. Tiny, moist, and dotted with flecks of cornmeal, these little beauties are infused with real vanilla bean and specks of orange zest. The apples have just a bit of bite, and since they’re lightly sweetened, the essence of the fresh fall apples comes through wonderfully. If you don’t have access to Mutsus, try another sweet, crisp, mild variety like Fuji, Macintosh, or Gala.

 

Apple Upside-Down Cornmeal Cakes
makes 5 eight-ounce cakes

 

for the fruit

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3″ section of vanilla bean, split
2 large apples (1 1/2 cups sliced)
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
pinch sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set out your butter, eggs, and milk to come to room temperature. Liberally grease five eight-ounce oven-proof ramekins.

In a medium-sized skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the bubbling butter, toss in the pods, and turn to heat to the very lowest setting. Allow vanilla and butter to steep over low heat for 10 minutes. If butter starts to brown at all, remove the pan from heat.

Meanwhile, core and slice the apples to 1/4″ thick. Using a diagonal cut, halve the slices.

Next, bring the heat back up to medium, and add the apples, sugar, orange zest and juice, and salt. Sauté for 5 minutes. Set aside while you prepare the batter.

 

for the cake

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and sea salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, or using a paddle attachment and a stand mixture, beat the butter on low speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the sugar, and beat for 3 minutes more. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute more, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the milk and vanilla extract. Finally, fold in the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.

Discard the vanilla pod. Divide the apples and their cooking liquid evenly between the ramekins. Next, spoon the batter over the apples, dividing evenly. Set ramekins on a baking sheet, and place in the oven. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached.

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