Melt 1 3/4 sticks of butter over low heat in a heavy skillet. Iron is the best, but stainless or hard anodized will work, as long as they’re ovenproof.
And I use low heat because I don’t trust myself.
Grab some Granny Smith (or other tart) apples.
Peel off the skins…
Then core them and slice them into six wedges.
Grab 3/4 cup white sugar…
And when the butter is just melted…
Pour the sugar into the pan.
Stir it around to evenly distribute…
Then lay the apples in the pan with the curved side down.
You don’t need to pack ’em in tightly, but try not to have too many huge, gaping areas.
Now, just leave this cooking over medium low heat. You don’t want the sugar to burn, but you do want it to start getting golden brown. And that’ll take a little while.
Meantime, make the batter:
In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
Stir it all together and set it aside.
Now, in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar and beat it together until light and fluffy.
Then add vanilla. Vanilla makes everything taste better.
Now hear this: If you do not put vanilla in your pancake batter, you might as well not make pancakes.
Crack in the eggs.
Now beat it all together again until totally combined.
The reason my batter looks lumpy is that my butter was actually cold when I threw it in the mixing bowl; the lumps are actually cold little bits of butter. It couldn’t be helped, though—I had to get ‘er done while it was still daylight.
When daylight savings time ends, I’m gonna be in a world of hurt.
Moral of the story: Don’t be like me.
Next comes sour cream, one of my very favorite ingredients in baking.
Put it in cakes. Put it in muffins. Put it in cheesecake.
After you mix in the sour cream, add the flour mixture gradually until it’s all combined.
But we’re not done yet.
Chop up another apple…
And throw it into the batter.
It’s apple cake. A cake with apples.
Gently fold it all together till the apples are all incorporated.
Lick the spoon. Delicious.
By now the apples have been cooking for about fifteen minutes, and the sugar/butter mixture had gotten a little bit of color. And the apples are fork tender, so tender that it will be an exercise in discipline not to forgo the whole cake nonsense and just eat this right out of the skillet. The only thing that will save you from doing this is that they’re too hot to eat right out of the skillet, and in the time it would take the apples to cool enough for you to eat them, you’d come to your senses and return them to the pan. And all that drama would be for naught.
Drop the batter in large spoonfuls as evenly over the top of the apples as you can.
Then grab an offset spatula or knife.
This small offset spatula is one of my favorite kitchen tools, hands down. It’s perfect for icing cupcakes or doing careful batter spreading jobs like the one we’re about to do.
Use the spatula to carefully spread the batter evenly over the apples. You don’t want to press too hard—just be gentle for once in your life!
Now pop it in the oven and bake it for 20 to 25 minutes…
Or until golden brown. Yummy!
And oh…the aroma of the kitchen. It smells like home.
I want you to feast your eyes on this cake for a minute. I’ll try not to ruin the moment by speaking.
Oh my gosh. Does this not look divine?
We need to invert the cake, so grab a frilly milkglass cake pedestal like this one and place it face down on the pan.
Then, holding the cake plate tightly against the skillet (with hot pads, of course!) flip it over so that the skillet is upside down.
Oh, yum. The apples. The caramelized butter and sugar. The delicious, moist cake.
This is a rustic, lumpy, imperfect cake—my favorite kind.
To serve, cut a big slice….
And serve it with a scoop of pure vanilla ice cream.
What is better than this, I ask you?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Try this sometime! It’s beyond scrumptious, and is perfect in winter, spring, summer, or fall.
Year-round deliciousness: it’s what I look for in a dessert.