Pineapple Upside Down Cake usually conjures up visions of a 50’s housewife in a beehive–do and apron pouring over her trusty Betty Crocker cook book for recipes. Times have definitely changed from those dutiful housewife days, but good recipes linger on. I took the technique from this legendary recipe and adapted it for apples. The ingredients that make Pineapple Upside Down Cake so good (brown sugar and butter to be exact) also complement apples quite nicely. Adding almonds lends another layer of flavor and texture to the picture. All that’s missing is some freshly whipped cream (or even some vanilla ice cream) and you’ve got a classic fall dessert to enjoy in front of a crackling fire. I like this cake best when served slightly warm (it enhances the caramel topping). —Leah
blanched whole almonds
unsalted butter, melted, plus 9 tablespoons softened
light brown sugar, plus one tablespoon (divided)
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and roast, shaking the pan occasionally, until lightly golden (about 8–10 minutes). Set aside to cool. Turn down the oven temperature to 325° F.
Stir together the melted butter and 3/4 cup brown sugar and evenly coat the bottom of a 9–10 inch glass pie plate with the mixture. Arrange the cooled almonds around the bottom rim of the pie plate (also arrange some of them in the center), gently pressing them into the sugar mixture.
Arrange the apple slices in a concentric pattern (slightly overlapping them) on top. You should have enough apple slices to make 2 layers. After the first layer has been created, sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of brown sugar on top, then make the second layer of apples.
In a mixing bowl, combine the pastry flour, the brown and white sugars, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together the softened butter, sour cream, apple juice, egg yolks and almond extract. Add to the dry ingredients and mix with an electric mixer at medium speed for about 2 minutes, until thick and smooth. Spread the batter evenly over the apples.
Bake 40–50 minutes, until golden and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Transfer the pie plate to a rack to cool 3–5 minutes (no longer!) and then run a butter knife around the inside edge of the pie plate to loosen the cake. Invert onto a serving plate. Tip: You may have to coerce the cake into loosening from one side of the plate with the knife, but you will be able to see through the glass as it slowly dislodges and eventually plops onto the serving plate. Don’t allow the cake to cool for longer than the suggested time as it will become more difficult to remove from the pan as the caramel sauce cools.