Listen, let me share with you something stupid. In case you feel offensive…by all means don’t take it so seriously.
During my first few years of living in the United States I didn’t know anything about “upside down cooking”. You know what I mean, upside down apple or pineapple cakes of sorts. My mother is Moroccan, there is nothing upside down in her kitchen. I’ve been introduced to upside down cake for the first time in someone’s house, I don’t remember who exactly. The kind lady with a smile on her face handed a piece of cake “here honey, upside down cake for you”. Wondering, I looked at the cake and slowly I tilted my head, literally, to a point where I couldn’t bring it back to its original position…just to look at the cake…upside down. I told you it was stupid.
As the years passed by and I found myself making more mistakes with my baking experiments in different kitchens, in which some of them turned out to be pretty good recipes, I’ve come to know the beauty and creativity of baking upside down cakes. I also realized you can bake anything upside down: fruits, vegetables, even cheese. Did I try it? no.
One of my favorite upside down cake makers is Elton from Good Eats. You know him. But as much as I love him, he makes me work too much. And me being a spontaneous cook, I like to grab something and make it my way right away.
And simply because it’s not a cake by definition that requires flour and sifting and such, it’s a tart. Which turns this decadent dessert into a French dessert called Tatin. I call it tre bien. Oh, the sound of French. My favorite desserts inspiration in the world.
A beautiful and seductively moist and caramelized upside down apple cake/Tatin served warm with your best home-made hot fresh mint tea.
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
5 firm large green apples
1/2 c. light brown sugar
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cardamon
1 vanilla bean
4 tsp tap water
juice of one lemon
1/4 stick of butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
additional butter, for greasing
Preheat oven to 375º. Grease 9″ baking pan with melted butter. Peel and slice apples while removing seeds and cores. Keep slices a little thick. In a large bowl toss slices in lemon juice. Heat a heavy skillet with butter and add the lemon-apple slices, sugar, spices, water and scraped vanilla bean. Stir and cook on medium-low heat for about 8-10 minutes. Mixture should turn smooth and bubbly in a light caramel color. Remove from heat. Let cool for a few minutes.
Now here comes the fun part: you can arrange the apples neatly, careful it’s still hot, in the baking pan and you might get two layers of apples which is fine. I arranged only the bottom layer (which is the first one you see), than poured the rest on top. I got a thick pile. I love the rustic look of imperfection in this recipe. It has its own beauty.
Now, on a floured surface roll out the thawed pastry sheet to a size inch larger than the baking pan. Do not roll it too thin, keep it slightly thick for “cushion”. Trim edges or tuck them down between the pan and the apples and lightly brush with melted butter. Bake 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let it rest for 15 minutes. If too much liquid is left at the button of the pan carefully pour most of it into a heat-proof glass jar but leave some in the pan. This delicious ooze may be drizzled later on a sliced upside down cake for extra sweetness, or on your morning toasted waffle. YUMM! did you think about that? guess not. That’s why I’m here.
For assembly: take a large beautiful serving platter and place it upside down over the pan. You’re gonna have to work quickly and carefully, it’s hot!, invert the cake over the platter. If your apples have shifted easily move them back with a fork. And there you have it.
Sharing and caring is cool…but you might not get seconds 🙂