I am so excited to be sharing this post with you because these are the first photos of food I’ve taken with my new Nikon D200. It has totally changed my life. Seriously, how beautiful is that photo?! I freakin’ love this thing.

And I finally have a step-by-step recipe to share instead of a final product recipe. This cake is from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2011, which is an incredible cookbook. Funnily enough, it didn’t occur to me how fitting it was that I was cooking from it on New Years Eve until writing this blog post. Although I have several recipes in the book flagged with hot pink Post It notes, I settled on this recipe because a week ago I bought a grossly large bag of apples with nothing in mind for them. They needed to be used. Don’t ask me why I make the decisions I do.

To start, peel and core the apples. Then slice them up about 1/4 inch thick. Ish. As you can see, I am not the best eye-baller.

Then melt a nice helping of butter in a saucepan. Add the apples and cook until slightly caramelized, about five minutes. Add the brown sugar and lemon juice and cook for another minute. We don’t want the apples to break down here, though.

Pour the apples into the bottom of a 9 inch take pan. Step back and take in the incredible smell of apples, butter, and sugar.

Now it’s time to prepare the cake! I messed up a bit taking photos here. So pretend that there are pictures of me preparing the cake batter, which includes sour cream. I love it when batters include sour cream. Then pour the cake batter right over the apples.

Then stick it in an oven preheated to 400 degrees for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan for about 20 minutes to set the apples. If you can wait that long. Then flip it out onto a cooling rack…

And try to restrain yourself so it can cool a little longer. Then, finally, after about 20 more minutes, pour yourself a cup of coffee and cut a nice big slice. Pretend it hasn’t been raining for eight days straight and enjoy the apple goodness.

I’ve made upside down cakes before, but this one was different because of the way I prepared the fruit. Caramelizing it beforehand gave it incredible flavor and pouring in the butter/sugar mixture almost gave this cake a caramel cake flavor. It’s one of my favorite cakes that I’ve made. In fact, most things I make from America’s Test Kitchen end up being favorites.

I hope you had a wonderful New Year and are looking forward to the Rose Bowl tomorrow! I know I am! Go Ducks!

Apple Upside Down Cake
From The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2011


tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter , cut into 4 pieces, plus extra for pan 
Granny Smith apples or Golden Delicious (about 2 pounds), peeled and cored
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar (4 2/3 ounces) 
teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
cup unbleached all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
tablespoon cornmeal (optional)
teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (1 3/4 ounces)
large eggs
tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup sour cream
teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1. FOR THE TOPPING: Butter bottom and sides of 9-inch round, 2-inch-deep nonstick cake pan; set aside. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • 2. Halve apples from pole to pole. Cut 2 apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices; set aside. Cut remaining 2 apples into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Heat butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add 1/2-inch-thick apple slices and cook, stirring 2 or 3 times, until apples begin to caramelize, 4 to 6 minutes. (Do not fully cook apples.) Add 1/4-inch-thick apple slices, brown sugar, and lemon juice; continue cooking, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves and apples are coated, about 1 minute longer. Transfer apple mixture to prepared pan and lightly press into even layer. Set aside while preparing cake.
  • 3. FOR THE CAKE: Whisk flour, cornmeal (if using), baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside. Whisk granulated sugar, brown sugar, and eggs together in large bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter until combined. Add sour cream and vanilla; whisk until combined. Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into pan and spread evenly over fruit. Bake until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
  • 4. Cool pan on wire rack 20 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of cake to loosen. Place wire rack over cake pan. Holding rack tightly, invert cake pan and wire rack together; lift off cake pan. Place wire rack over baking sheet or large plate to catch any drips. If any fruit sticks to pan bottom, remove and position it on top of cake. Let cake cool 20 minutes (or longer to cool it completely), then transfer to serving platter, cut into pieces, and serve.