Such a lovely, easy cake – the kind you can knock up on a weeknight after work or on holiday in an unfamiliar kitchen because you don’t need fancy equipment or special ingredients (I’ve included homely measurements for people without scales). The apples soften and caramelise into tenderly curling petals, fanned out into a burnished rose that rests on a pillowy layer of French yoghurt cake, flavouring it with apple-fragranced honey.
We made this for the first time on holiday, improvising a traditional sponge cake batter from the flour and sugar in the cupboard of the holiday home, beating by hand and measuring ingredients approximately in spoonfuls. Coming home, I wanted to recreate the cake but with a moister, more crumbly texture – the type you get when a cake incorporates yoghurt or crème fraiche. (I’ve included photos of both the half-sized holiday cake and the home cake here). The recipe for the cake layer is from the incomparable Dorie Greenspan
, and acts almost like the pastry in a tarte tatin here. How appropriate that it is a relaxed French dessert!
Recipe: Easy Apple Upside Down Cake
3 red eating apples (e.g. gala), cored but not peeled and sliced into 16ths
1/2 tsp table salt or to taste
5 dessertspoons runny honey
100g golden caster sugar, ideally vanilla (11 Tbsp)
2 medium free-range eggs
80ml plain yoghurt, low fat is fine (6 Tbsp)
110g plain flour (16 Tbsp)
1 tsp baking powder (or replace plain flour for self-raising flour)
60ml extra virgin olive oil (6 Tbsp) (or flavourless oil)
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to maximum heat or 230C.
1. Spread the butter over the base of a 9 inch cake tin (not loose-bottomed) or any ovenproof dish, and sprinkle with the salt. Drizzle with the honey and arrange the apple slices radially, skin side down, in a ring at the outside of the tin. Cut the slices in half to make a smaller ring in the centre.
Like tipping over a line of dominoes, gently tip the apples over so they are overlapping each other around the circle.
Bake the apples in the oven for 30 mins until apples are translucent and rosy.
Remove from the oven and lower the heat to 170C (fan)
2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs (ideally with a whisk) and then add the sugar, vanilla and yoghurt and whisk again.
3. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in gently.
4. Add the oil and fold in until well combined, giving a thick and shiny batter.
5. Pour the batter evenly over the apples, you should be able to cover them completely.
6. Bake for 20-30 mins until cake is golden and a fork inserted into the middle comes out clean.
7. Invert onto a plate and serve in warm wedges, accompanied by pouring cream or creme fraiche.