Thursday, 23 July 2015

Caramel Apple Cake with Cinnamon and Aniseed

There were 4 apples in the fruit bowl, and they were all a bit on the soft side. Still good, but not nice and crunchy, the way I like them to be when I'm eating one. I used them to make an upside down cake for dessert, and also finished off the last bit of sour cream at the same time.

Start off by cooking the apples...this allows them to cool before putting the batter on top of them.

Peel and slice 4 apples. I cut each one into 3/8" thick slices.

In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, melt:

2 ounces butter


3/4 cup brown sugar

Cook, stirring, over medium heat until the sugar and butter are well combined.

When the butter and sugar start to bubble, add:

1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Add the apples to the pan. The caramel will seize up, but it will melt again as the apples heat up and release their juice.

Cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are just tender.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the apples from the caramel and allow them to cool.

Save the caramel for the cake.

Put the apples into a heavy bottomed skillet, that can go directly into the oven. I used one that is about 10" diameter.

Turn the oven on to 350F.

Using an electric mixer and the paddle attachment, cream:

6 ounces butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground aniseed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix well to combine, scraping the bowl down halfway through.

Measure the dry ingredients into a small bowl:

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda

Add half to the batter.

Add the wet ingredients:

The caramel from cooking the apples
Sour cream to bring it up to 3/4 cup in total

Mix to combine, scrape the bowl down.

Add the remaining dry ingredients.

Scrape the batter on to the apples, and spread evenly over the fruit.

Place into the pre-heated oven and bake until the cake is golden, slightly cracked and a wooden skewer inserted into the cake comes out dry. This took about 40 - 45 minutes.

Leave the cake to cool for 5 - 10 minutes before placing a large plate over the top of the skillet and inverting it.

This allows the cake to unmould, leaving you with the sweet, soft apples on top of the moist, spicy cake.

Cut and serve, warm or at room temperature, alone or accompanied by whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

  • Other fruit can be used in the same way...try pears, peaches, plums, apricots or rhubarb.
  • Use spices that you like, have a lot of or you feel compliment your choice of fruit best. Some suggestions include fresh or ground ginger (peaches, plums, pears); nutmeg, cloves or allspice...use sparingly as they are all very strong; ground fennel seeds (apples or pears); ground star anise (plums); cardamom (pears or plums); ground pepper; chopped fresh rosemary (peaches or rhubarb).
  • Use a spice grinder to grind whole spices such as aniseed, fennel seeds, cardamom or star anise.
  • The caramelized fruit can be drained in a colander; I like to use a slotted spoon to scoop it out.
  • Another option for the cooking caramel is to add whipping cream to it and make a caramel sauce.
  • If you use the cooking caramel to make a sauce, use the full 3/4 cup of sour cream or plain yoghurt.
  • Nuts, chopped or whole, can be placed in the bottom of the skillet before adding the fruit and batter. Pecans, almonds or hazelnuts work well for this.
  • During the short fresh berry season, spread the batter into the bottom of a parchment lined springform pan, and top with 3/4 cup of fresh berries, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of white sugar before baking. The batter will rise up around the berries, partially covering them.
  • The cake batter can be brightened with the addition of lemon or orange zest. Nuts, chocolate chips or toffee bits can be folded into the batter as well.
  • For a slightly more elegant twist on this cake, use individual moulds such as ramekins or muffin tins. Lightly grease them and sprinkle the inside with white sugar mixed with a bit of cinnamon. Place a scoop of batter into each one, filling it no more than 2/3 full. Cut fresh peaches, plums or apricots in half, removing the pit. Place one half into each mould, cut side up, gently pressing the fruit down so that the cut edge is only slightly above the batter. Bake. Allow to cool before removing from the moulds...the fruit juice is very hot!
  • Serve the cake warm, or at room temperature. Accompany it with whipped cream, ice cream, mascarpone cheese with a bit of vanilla and lemon zest folded into it.

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