A Southern Grace: the upside down

January 16, 2018

the upside down


Apple upside-down cake. Stranger Things fan girl, right here!

Anyone else out there enjoying the Netflix show? It takes place in the 80s, and as a child of that decade, I liked the first season a lot and LOVED the second season (more humor, Sean Astin), and it's one of the few shows my husband and I can enjoy together*.

*No, dear, I don't care to watch that Civil War documentary, but you go right ahead. Love you!

If you're unfamiliar with the show, suffice to say that it involves an alternative universe called the Upside Down, and that's the connection to this cake. Because it's an upside-down cake. Get it? Good.

I'm a bit of an upside-down cake aficionado. I have a good recipe, and it lends itself to all kinds of fruit toppings (bottoms?). This time, I went with the apple, spiced up with plenty of cinnamon and cardamom. It was a very delicious version, especially since I actually used buttermilk leftover from the holidays rather than that not-so-great substitute of milk and lemon juice.

The cake is moist and tender, but still sturdy enough to support those apples, which are coated in a delicious cinnamon caramel. I always hold my breath when I'm turning out a cake like this, and it popped out beautifully this time!

Not-So-Strange Apple Upside-Down Cake
(printable recipe)
Serves 8-10
For topping:
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced about 1/4" thick
For cake:
  • 1 cup + 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
Make topping:
Melt butter in a 9-inch skillet or sturdy cake pan* over moderate heat, then swirl to coat bottom and side of skillet and stir in brown sugar and cinnamon. Simmer, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes, then place the apple slices decoratively over the butter mixture and remove from heat.

*I boldly used a regular 9-inch aluminum cake pan over an electric eye on my stove-top, and it didn't scorch or anything. Your mileage may vary.

Make cake:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla.
Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture alternately in batches with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until just combined.

Bake cake:
Heat topping in skillet over moderately high heat until it starts to bubble, then gently spoon batter over topping and spread evenly.
Quickly transfer to oven; bake until cake is golden brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool cake in pan on a rack for 10 minutes.
Run a thin knife around inside edge of pan, then invert a serving plate over pan and invert cake onto plate. Cool completely on plate on rack, 1 hour. Serve cake at room temperature.


Angie's Recipes said...

We adore upside down cakes. So delicious even without the caramel part!

Pam said...

We love the show too... so fun to see all the 80's references, clothes, music, etc. Love this cake too - YUM!

Pam said...

The show is on my list, sounds good, but have to finish The Crown first. Then I have to try this cake, sounds melt-in-your-mouth good! That's my kind of topping for apples! Thanks!

Alicia Foodycat said...

I tried an episode of Stranger Things and it just didn't grab me. The 80s setting was very familiar but it was a bit too horror-y for me! On the other hand, I adore an upside down cake!

Adina said...

I love upside down cakes, especially those made with apples. My husband and I got through both Stranger Things seasons in less than two weeks, it's addictive. :) I love Eleven!

Agness of Run Agness Run said...

Yum! I've always loved the combination of apples and cinnamon, Grace! This cake will be my ultimate treat!

Gingi said...

Oh wow, that came out so lovely!!! <3 - http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I'm a HUUUUGE Stranger Things fan!! Love the look of upside down cakes too :D

Tania|My Kitchen Stories said...

Oh my God that looks delicious I have to make that.

Emma - Bake Then Eat said...

I love stranger things and I adore this cake, love a good upside-down cake.

Marcelle said...

I love upside down cakes too. They are always so pretty! I like that you use cardamom in yours. That's a spice I don't make use of nearly enough! I'll take a big slice please... :)

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I've always had a fondness for upside-down cakes and yours sounds delicious.

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

We LOVE Stranger Things!
The problem is we binge and then it's gone and done.
I think that will be the problem with this cake!

All That I'm Eating said...

Upside down cakes are much better than normal cakes! At least it's not as scary as the actual 'upside down' though!!

Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen said...

This looks ABSOLUTELY fabulous! I loooove apple in desserts!

Velva said...

Have not seen Stranger Things but have heard a lot of good things. Netflix has a few really good shows.
Always love upside down cakes... A scoop of vanilla ice cream please!


Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

Yah, there are a few things my husband watches that I wouldn't touch... But I love your cake. I always say we don't use apples in cakes enough. I enjoy upside down cake too -- other than that nervous moment where you flip them over. I guess that means I need to make them more so I get past that, right?