Apple and ginger upside-down cake with bourbon

So here is what happened to the diet… I had bought a pineapple a week ago with the intention of making a pineapple version of my berry yoghurt smoothie. I have been wanting to cook with more seasonal ingredients, and knowing that pineapple is currently in season in New York, I thought I would make the most of it. However, as is often the case, I had bought too much food, and when I got around to realising the pineapple must be eaten, there was no way I could achieve that task through smoothies alone. So I devised a plan to make a pineapple upside-down cake (which, I admit, is the only food I could think of that had pineapple in it). In the interests of not eating a whole cake by myself, I promptly invited some friends (including Nanna Teitsdóttir from the wonderful Eldað í Vesturheimi – no, I can’t read Icelandic, but I always enjoy the pictures) round for a late lunch. But, when I got around to using the pineapple I discovered that it was rotten. So I had to come up with a new plan – and this is what I came up with, which, I am rather proud to say is pretty much an original creation…

Apple and Ginger Upside-Down Cake with Bourbon

4-5 green apples

1 lemon (you will be using the juice and the zest)

A knob of fresh ginger (enough that you will end up with 1 tbs finely chopped ginger)

220g (8oz, 2 sticks) unsalted butter (half for topping, half for cake)

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (one tsp for topping, one for cake)

2 cups of sugar (I used granulated sugar, but you could substitute light brown sugar – note that 1 cup will go into the topping, 1 cup will go into the cake)

1/2 a cup of bourbon (1/4 for topping, 2 tbs for the cake and a little extra for pouring over the finished product)

4 eggs, separated

1 1/2 cups of white (all purpose) flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

2 teaspoons of dried, powdered ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

A pinch of salt

You will also need: Baking paper (parchment paper) to line your cake tin; a little extra butter to grease the baking paper.


 To make the topping…

Before you begin cooking, line a 23cm springform cake tin with greased baking paper. You will need this as soon as you complete the apples.

Peel, core and slice your apples. Remove the skin from your ginger and finely chop about a tablespoon’s worth. In a non-stick frying pan, heat 110g (4oz, 1 stick) unsalted butter over medium heat until melted. Add the apple, ginger, and the juice and zest of one lemon. Cook until the apples are soft, around 5 minutes. Add one teaspoon of vanilla and one cup of sugar, and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove the apples from the sauce with a slotted spoon, and place in the bottom of your lined, greased cake tin.

Add 1/4 cup of bourbon to the remaining liquid in your frying pan. Bring to boil for around 7 minutes until it thickens a bit and forms a caramel. (This bourbon-ginger caramel tastes so good on its own, I will have to make it again and find another use for it.) Working quickly, as the caramel sets reasonably fast, take it off the heat and pour over the apples in the bottom of your cake tin. Make sure the caramel is spread evenly over the apples. Set aside to cool.

To make the cake…

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). In a large bowl, cream together 110g (4oz, 1 stick) unsalted butter with 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Add the four egg yolks, one at a time, until well combined. Mix in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of bourbon. Sift in 1 1/2 cups of white (all purpose) flour, 2 teaspoons of baking power, 2 teaspoons of ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of salt  and mix until completely combined.

In a dry bowl, whisk the four egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the cake batter in thirds. My batter was quite heavy and so the folding process was rather difficult – don’t worry if it does not come out that fluffy, as it still works! Pour the batter over the apple caramel mixture in the cake tin, and spread evenly (though don’t worry too much about making it utterly smooth, as this will end up being the bottom of the cake).

Place in the the middle of the oven and bake for 40 minutes until it is brown and springy – if you insert a skewer it should come out clean. (This is very important: put a baking tray under your cake when you put it in the oven. Otherwise there is a risk that a little caramel will drip onto the bottom of your oven while cooking and later when you use the oven it will fill with smoke.) Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes (longer if you can bear it), place a plate over the top and flip upside-down.

Before serving, pour an extra 1/2 tablespoon of bourbon over each slice. Serve with cream.

This cake is very moist and sticky, which is delicious, but means that it will stick to your plate a little, or to aluminium foil if you wrap it up. You can keep it wrapped up in the fridge for at least three days (probably more, but that is how long we took to finish the last of it off).


5 thoughts on “Apple and ginger upside-down cake with bourbon

    1. Thank you! I actually got the idea of adding ginger after looking up cocktails that contained apple and bourbon – it really added to the final taste.

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