Maple Syrup Apple Upside-Down Cake

One of the pleasures of fall and winter is enjoying the seasonal bounty. Maple syrup is a staple in our Michigan home year-round. While maple syrup tapping season does not officially begin until January, there is plenty of fresh maple syrup on the market that makes a deletable combination with that other favorite of the fall harvest: apples.

This Maple Syrup Apple Upside-Down Cake takes advantage of both of these traditional fall delicacies. The effect is like a warm stack of apple pancakes, which goes perfect with a little  milk and a dollop of crème fraîche. Make sure you use organic, real maple syrup. Syrup is classified by grades. The best grade for this recipe is either Grade A Dark Color (with Robust Flavor) or Grade A, Very Dark Color (with Strong Flavor). Grade A Dark is sweeter and used more often for baking than the lighter colored syrup. Grade A Very Dark has the strongest maple flavor available. It is the best Grade for this recipe, since the strong flavor compliments the Granny Smith apples. Try buying local syrup from a farm in your area, the taste will be worth it.

What You Need

1 cup pure maple syrup
3 Granny Smith apples—peeled, cored and cut into eighths
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
Crème fraîche, for serving

Directions: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Use butter and flour to coat a 10-inch round cake pan. In a large saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a boil. Use high heat, then simmer over low to medium-low heat until the syrup becomes thickened. It should be reduced down to about ¾ of a cup, which will take approximately 20 minutes. Then pour the thick syrup into the prepared cake pan. Arrange the apples in the pan in 2 concentric circles, overlapping them slightly.

Next, in a a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Use a glass measuring cup to whisk the eggs and the buttermilk and vanilla. If you have a standing electric mixer, use the bowl to beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy. This takes about 3 minutes. Then beat in the dry and wet ingredients, using 3 alternating batches until the batter is smooth. Don’t forget to scrape down the side of the bowl to fully mix the entire batter.

Scrape the batter over the apples and spread it in an even layer in the baking pan. Bake the cake for 1 hour. It should be golden on top when it is done. Use a toothpick inserted in the center to test doneness; if it comes out clean, the cake is ready. Let the cake cool on a rack for 45 minutes before serving.

To serve, put a plate on top of the cake and then invert the cake onto the plate, tapping lightly to release the cake. Remove the pan. Let the cake cool slightly for about 5 minutes. Then cut into wedges and serve with crème fraîche.


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