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Maple Walnut Apple Cake

November 6, 2010

I’ve decided that my baking repertoire includes far too few upside-down cakes. Apple cakes? A few solid options there, but none of the decidedly easy and homey upside-down variety.

I found myself last weekend struggling to close our crisper drawer, due to the fact that it was bursting (literally) with apples from our fruit share. Not that that’s anything to complain about; little A is an enthusiastically devoted fan of my homemade applesauce, but since she’s also just begun walking(!), my prep time to peel a whole boatload of apples is somewhat limited (that girl will find the one thing I don’t want her to touch in the blink of an eye.) So when I put her down for a nap, I had in my mind that I’d throw together an apple cake, and I set out to make this recipe from David Lebovitz’s new book* Ready for Dessert. His version uses pears, but what apple doesn’t love maple and walnut flavors?

About an hour later, a lovely, homey, maple-syrupy-sweet-and-moist cake emerged from the oven, punctuated by crunchy bits of walnuts. And it’s absolutely delicious, though not perhaps the prettiest on the plate (and I was a little dismayed to see that my pretty arrangement of apple slices was completely hidden underneath the walnut topping.)

Happily, it’s even *better* the second day, after the sticky maple syrup caramel has seeped into the cake. So, upside-down cake, please consider yourself added to the repertoire.

(I have my friend to thank for the book – hi Maggie! – and I only wish she lived closer so I could have shared a piece of this cake with her.)

Maple-Walnut Apple Cake

Adapted from Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz

The original recipe uses 3 ripe Bosc pears, which would be equally delicious. I love Grade B maple syrup for its deep maple flavor.

1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
3 apples, peeled, quartered, cored, and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Make the topping by combining the maple syrup and 1/4 dark or light brown sugar in a 9-inch cake pan or cast-iron skillet. Set the pan directly over the heat on the stovetop until it begins to bubble; simmer gently for 1 minute, stirring often. Remove pan from heat.

Sprinkle walnuts evenly over maple mixture in the pan, then arrange the apple slices decoratively over the walnuts (i.e. an overlapping pinwheel pattern.)

Make the cake: in a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt.) In a stand mixer or by hand, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup light brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Gradually mix in half the flour mixture, then stir in the milk, then add the remaining flour mixture. Mix just until combined.

Scrape the batter over the apples in the pan and carefully smooth into an even layer. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in the pan.

Run a knife around the sides of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Invert a serving plate over the pan, and using oven mitts, grasp both the pan and the plate and flip them over together. Carefully lift off the pan and gently rearrange any walnuts or fruit that have gone astray.

23 Comments leave one →
  1. November 6, 2010 4:14 pm

    Maple, apple and walnuts are a classic, favorite combination. Didn’t really think to put nuts in my upside-down cakes, though I’m tempted to try it now! We have a local grade B maple syrup that pair well with dark brown sugar here.



  2. November 7, 2010 12:07 am

    Yay! for David Lebovitz fans. Love his stuff and this is no exception. It’s six in the morning and I am already drooling over your photos, Amy. Che brava!

  3. November 7, 2010 12:20 am

    Yay! for David Lebovitz fans. Love his stuff and this is no exception. It’s six in the morning and I am already drooling over your photos, Amy. Che brava!

    • November 11, 2010 7:24 am

      Oh, I understand Jen; my threshold for dessert-drooling knows no time boundaries!

  4. November 7, 2010 11:28 am

    This looks delicious! I really love apple cakes, and the addition of the maple flavor just puts this over the top! YUM!

  5. November 8, 2010 11:49 am

    I want to lick my screen… the good news is, I know you all understand….

  6. Maggie permalink
    November 8, 2010 7:23 pm

    Hi Amy! I’m glad you’re enjoying the book – this looks absolutely delicious! I wish I lived closer too – miss you!!

    • November 11, 2010 7:25 am

      The book is wonderful, Maggie – thanks again! 🙂 Hope we can see you soooooon!

  7. November 10, 2010 6:30 pm

    Oh my. This is just what I always needed and didn’t even know it. Hello Thanksgiving dessert! I am so not a pie making girl and this… this is going to be perfect! I’m going to have to use pecans though as we’re allergic to walnuts here….

    • November 11, 2010 7:26 am

      Great idea, Dakota – I always feel like I want something other than pie at thanksgiving, and pecans would be just as delicious as walnuts.

  8. November 10, 2010 9:16 pm

    First of all, this looks delicious and perfect for the season!

    Secondly, I found you through Ithaca Food Web today. I just moved to Ithaca in June and also maintain a food blog. From your about page, it sounds like we have very similar food philosophies! So glad I found your blog. 🙂

    • November 11, 2010 7:27 am

      Hi Julie – so nice to hear of another local food blogger! 🙂 I’ll be checking out your posts, too!

  9. November 10, 2010 10:01 pm

    Wish I could have smelled this one coming out of the oven! Thanks for sharing. Happy WalnutWednesday!

  10. November 12, 2010 10:54 pm

    Oh my goodness, there are so many good things about this cake! It looks so darn delicious!

  11. November 13, 2010 10:42 am

    That is simply stunning!

  12. Leslie Gilbert permalink
    November 14, 2010 3:40 pm

    I made this cake yesterday for dinner at a friend’s house. I added a couple drops of maple extract to the batter — it was fantastic. It was very simple and easy to make and looked pretty, too. I served it with plain whipped cream — the cake was sweet enough on its own. For the finished cake, there is not very much cake for the topping and I’m wondering how it would come out with half again as much batter. I guess I just have to make it again. Thanks for posting this!

    • November 14, 2010 6:06 pm

      Hi Leslie; let me know how it turns out if you do try that – I think that would be a great modification!

  13. January 4, 2011 8:42 pm

    wow, looks fantastic. i will try making this gluten free. i cant wait to taste it!!!

  14. Ever permalink
    August 20, 2011 11:21 pm

    Would I be able to use your picture for a project that I am doing for school?


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