Fall Apple Skillet Cake

Here's a dessert that's perfect for a large fall dinner party, like ones we have at our friend's house upstate. Bring the two rustic skillets straight from the oven to the table to serve up. This cake is a cross between an apple cake and English pudding, so it is best eaten warm. Sprinkling melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon on the apples enables them to be slightly caramelized before they are enveloped by the batter. It's not like a pie or a tart, so don't hate me when the apple slices sink in. I've baked this cake in numerous ways and prefer it when the apples get all gooey and delicious from baking in the batter. Serve with creme Anglaise, whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 50 min
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: Two 9-inch round cakes
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Ingredients

Assembly:

Unsalted butter, for the pan

4 apples, cored and thinly sliced 

1/2 cup (120 milliliters) freshly squeezed lemon juice 

Milk and Honey Cake

2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted  

6 tablespoons (80 grams) cane sugar  

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Vanilla bean ice cream, for serving (optional)

Milk and Honey Cake:

2 1/4 cups (290 grams) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder  

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda  

1/4 teaspoon salt  

3 eggs, at room temperature  

1 cup (240 milliliters) buttermilk, shake carton  

3/4 cup (255 grams) honey  

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract  

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks/170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature  

3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch cast iron skillets with butter or prepare springform pans, making sure they're lined.
  2. In a small bowl, toss the apple slices in lemon juice to stop them from browning, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.  
  3. Make the batter for the Milk and Honey Cake according to directions.  
  4. For the Milk and Honey Cake: 
  5. Place a large sifter or a sieve in a large bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and sift.  
  6. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs together. Set aside.  
  7. In another small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, honey, and vanilla. Set aside.  
  8. Using an electric mixer with beaters or a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 30 to 45 seconds on medium speed, then gradually add the sugar. When all the sugar has been added, stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Continue beating on medium speed for another 4 minutes or until light in color and fluffy.  
  9. With the mixer still on medium speed, add the eggs 1 tablespoon at a time, over 3 minutes. If the batter curdles, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the flour to bind it back together.  
  10. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry and wet ingredients alternately two times, starting and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined and smooth. Don't overbeat. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula to make sure it's well combined.  
  11. Divide the batter evenly between the skillets or pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Working from the center out, gently lay the apple slices on top of the batter; leave behind any excess juice. Brush or drizzle the melted butter over the apple slices. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle evenly over the apple slices.
  12. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until golden. A skewer may not come out completely clean due to the moisture of the apple, but it shouldn't be wet. If baked in a springform pan, let sit for 10 minutes then release and remove parchment paper.
  13. Serve with a dusting of confectioners' sugar and vanilla bean ice cream.

Cook’s Note

To get the cake you truly deserve, sift the flour mixture twice to get the flour as aerated and light as possible, or give it a spin with cake or spelt flour. This recipe can be halved. To make one cake, halve the ingredients. To divide an egg, simply crack the egg into a small bowl, whisk, and use a tablespoon to measure half. Chef’s Notes: Alternatively, divide the batter evenly between the skillets or pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Working from the center out, gently lay two-thirds of the apple slices on top of the batter; leave behind any excess juice. Brush or drizzle the melted butter over the apple slices. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle evenly over the apple slices. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, then for the decorative top, place the remaining one-third of the apple slices on top of the cake. Work quickly, so you don't lose all the oven's hot air. Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until golden. For the apples, alternatively, you can hasselback the apples and place them in the batter.

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