Upside-Down Apple Cake With Whipped Cream – Mom’s Astonishing “Welcome Home” Delight
A Symphony of Scents and Flavours
Disclaimer: This recipe contains allergens! Please use suitable substitutes if you have a nut allergy!
The “welcome home” favourite in mom’s recipe book was always an impressive upside-down apple cake with whipped cream. I can’t call it pie or tart because it is not; it is a soft sponge over whole apples filled with nuts and spices (we don’t have any food allergies).
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My cruising job contracts were usually six months long. That meant a lot of exploring the ports of call or floating at sea in between destinations.
The job involved some office work (the small Shore Excursions department onboard usually made either the first or the second-largest profit per cruise – after the Casino). It also meant an early morning start to dispatch the tours and send the passengers to see the wonders they wanted to see on their cruise.
Most of the time, though, early mornings finished early enough to allow me to jump on a tour bus and be on my way together with forty-fifty passengers. I would see the same things they saw, probably more if I happened to be a place I had visited before and knew what hidden corners I wanted to explore or (re)discover.
Yep, I was paid to do this and enjoyed it 200%!
It was a lot of hard work and equally fun. Towards the end of the contract, I would experience some wear and tear. The worst was dealing with complaints such as “I went on this Rain Forest Canopy tour, and it was raining all day. I was not happy at all!”
I had to put it on the fact that people were on vacation and left their brains at home. As I provided a service that brought millions to the company, I had to plaster a smile on my face, feel empathic and apologise that it rained in the blooming rain forest! Five-star services require nerves of steel!
As the end of the contract was nearing, I used to feel divided. One part of me wanted to stay longer, visit more of the world, be in the company of onboard friends from all over the Globe. But at the same time, I was looking forward to flying back home, seeing my family and friends who were waiting for my travel stories. And to not waking up before eight am!
After months of repetitive menus, I was craving mum’s cooking. I was dreaming of a proper moussaka, her delicious homemade chocolate or a mouth-watering cozonac. Even if it were not around a holiday, mom would still make sure to have a couple of loaves waiting for me!
But most of all, I missed moms’ fabulous baking. And most of the time, there would be a massive upside-down apple cake smothered in whipping cream in the fridge, waiting for when the jet lag would wear off.
The scent of it, the apples filled with nuts and cinnamon that reminded me of Christmas (which, by the way, I never spent at home in six years of working on cruise ships), everything was marvellous and made the start of my two months-long vacations stellar.
The first glimpse of the cake was reason enough to forget sailing the oceans. After all, the cruise ships will always furrow the seas, and I will get a new contract until I decide it is time to make a career change or settle on firm land. It was time I enjoyed my vacation!
At least it is how it used to be, this still being a memoir an’ all. The moment of writing recalls times other than the doomed years of the pandemic, which managed to halt a prosperous cruising industry among all the bad things that came out of it!
That was the story; let’s get to the recipe I still make today since I now own my mom’s old, handwritten recipe book!
Ingredients for Upside-Down Apple Cake With Whipped Cream:
For the sponge:
Vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
A pinch of salt
For the filling:
Nuts coarsely grounded (walnuts or a mix, as long as you don’t have an allergy to nuts!)
Mulled wine spices: ground cinnamon, clove, aniseed, nutmeg, ginger.
Substitute for nuts
Sugar+cinnamon or spice mix
Banana (pureed and mixed with little sugar and raisins)
Any dry fruit mix. Be creative!
For the syrup:
Rum essence (optional)
Whipping cream (minimum 30% fat)
How to make the apple cake:
Wash and peel the apples if you buy them. Even organic, they are still waxed, and you don’t need that chemical mix in your body cells. Of course, if you have an apple tree in the garden, skip this step.
Remove the core and pips with an apple corer. Use the mix of nuts, sugar, spices and raisins (or any substitutes) to fill the space thus created.
Line up the baking tin with parchment (I used a round tin with removable bottom, 26cm in diameter).
Next, Mom’s recipe says to sprinkle some sugar in the tin. I made this cake either following or ignoring this step. The only difference was that with the sugar version, the crust had burnt a little. It was excellent without sugar, and I would say it is an optional step.
Place the apples in the baking tin, leaving an equal distance in between them.
Preheat the oven to a maximum of 170°C fan/190°/gas 5.
To prepare the sponge, place the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla (orange zest – optional) in a large mixing bowl and batter for five-seven minutes with an electric mixer.
Pro tip: if you store the eggs in the fridge, bring them out for at least an hour before starting. Eggs at room temperature whip better, increase the volume at least three times and have a creamy consistency. Using cold eggs will not triple the volume, and the consistency will remain fluid.
Using a tablespoon, add the water spoon-by-spoon (you might not need the entire quantity at this stage) and mix gently with circular motions from the bottom of the bowl up.
From now on, you can use a large silicone spatula or a wooden spoon for mixing and always add the ingredients gradually, not the entire quantity at once. The sponge needs a chance to incorporate everything slowly to remain fluffy.
Sieve the flour (mixed with baking powder) over the bowl in small quantities. Mix gently to keep it airy.
Finish by adding the vanilla and the orange zest if you choose to use them.
Pour the sponge mix over the apples. Even if they aren’t covered entirely, the sponge will rise at a high temperature during baking.
Cover the baking tray with another one (I use a round, shallow pizza tray for this purpose). Place the tray on the middle rake and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the cover and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes or until the sponge turns golden brown.
For food health and safety purposes, do the toothpick test to check if it is thoroughly baked (stick the toothpick in various parts of the cake; the sponge is ready if the toothpick is clean when you remove it.)
Before you flip the apple cake upside-down:
- Allow it to cool a little.
- Don a pair of oven gloves and place a cake stand over the tin (it has to be large enough to cover it completely, like a lid).
- Grip the covered tin securely with both hands and turn it upside down in one swift motion.
It might sound a bit tricky, but it is doable. Be careful not to burn yourself, and ask any audience you might have to take a few steps back until all is safe!
Also, please keep the tin over the table when you perform the turning manoeuvre; I’m not implying that it might happen, but you want to prevent your cake from accidentally flying off your hands and landing on the floor!
Now that the apple cake is safe on the cake stand, you can remove the tin, peel off the baking paper and permit it to cool completely.
Meanwhile, prepare the syrup by boiling the water with the sugar for a few minutes until it reduces slightly. When it cools, you can add some rum essence and mix (the essence is oily; it will not dissolve, but that’s okay).
You can now spread it all over the sponge using a tablespoon. When absorbed, the syrup will make the sponge even softer.
The last step is decorating the upside-down apple cake with a generous dollop of whipped cream.
Prepare the whipped cream with the required quantity of icing sugar until stiff. Add the already prepared gelatine to help the cream preserve a nice decorated shape for longer.
Spread half the whipped cream on the top and side of the cake and cover it uniformly. If you have a piping bag, get creative and decorate upon your heart’s desire!
It is essential to use cold ingredients for this step and cool the icing bag for a while before getting creative. Whipped cream works better if it is well refrigerated.
When you are happy with the results, place the cake in the fridge for at least a few hours. If you can, wait until the next day to slice it (I can’t, and I won’t!)
Your exquisite upside-down apple with whipped cream is ready, and the house is filled with the scent of Christmas, no matter the season. Make yourself a nice cup of coffee (even better, a cappuccino!) and savour a slice.
Poftă bună! This is your first step in learning a new language, and it means Bon appetite in Romanian!
Upside-Down Apple Cake With Whipped Cream
- Round baking tin Ø26cm with loose base
- Apple corer
- Large mixing bowl
- Silicone spatula
- Electric hand mixer
- Cake stand
- Parchment paper
- 6 pcs egg large, organic
- 100 g coconut sugar
- 8 tbsp tap water
- 300 g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder flattened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract/vanilla sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 7 pcs apple organic, unwaxed
- 100 g walnut or nut mix ground
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar organic
- 1 tbsp mulled wine spice (cinnamon, cloves, aniseed, ginger, nutmeg)
- 1 handful raisins
- 100 ml water
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 tsp rum essence
- 500 ml liquid whipping cream over 30% fat
- 1 tbsp powdered coconut sugar/icing sugar
- 1 tbsp gelatin
- Line up the baking tray with parchment paper.
- Wash, peel (if waxed), core and pip the apples.
- Optionally, sprinkle some coconut sugar on the bottom of the lined baking tray if you aim to obtain a caramelized top for the cake. (It might not work perfectly well with the whipped cream decoration, though.)
- Using a teaspoon, fill each apple with the nut/raisins/sugar/spice mix or any substitute chosen.
- Place the apples in the baking tray, leaving an equal distance between them.
- Spread any leftover nut and spice mix over the apples.
- Preheat the over to 170°C/375°F/gas mark 5.
- In a large mixing bowl, place the eggs at room temperature (this is important as it allows the volume to increase when battering!), sugar, salt and vanilla. Batter with an electric mixer for 5-7 minutes until the quantity triples.
- Add the water gradually and mix gently with the spatula. You might not need to use the entire quantity of water.
- Gradually add the sieved flour mixed with baking powder. Only use as much as needed to obtain a medium thick batter that still flows down easily. Different flours absorb humidity differently. If the batter becomes too thick and does not flow nicely from the spatula, try adding a tablespoon of water.
- Use a large spatula to mix gently, from the bottom of the bowl up, in a circular motion to help keep the fluffiness of the batter.
- Pour the batter over the apples placed in the baking tray and allow it to spread evenly. It should cover the apples, and it will rise while baking.
- Preferably, cover the tray and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the cover and bake for the remainder of 20-25 minutes. I use a shallow pizza tray as a cover to prevent the burning of the cake's top.
- The baking time is longer for this cake as the apples need extra time to bake.
- Perform the toothpick test to check that the sponge is baked thoroughly and allow extra time if needed.
- When you are happy that the cake is ready, remove it from the oven and place the tray on a cooling rack.
- Allow cooling for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the cake stand you will use for your finished cake.
Flipping over the sponge with apple filling
- Always use a pair of oven gloves for this step, and make sure that the area around you is free of young children or pets!
- Place the cake stand over the cake that is still in the baking tray.
- Grip securely both the tin and cake stand on top of it and flip it over, then place it on the worktop.
- Remove the tin and baking paper. Your cake should look brownish and have some caramel on it from the melted sugar if used.
- Allow cooling completely before the next step.
- While the cake is cooling, prepare the syrup.
- In a pan, bring to boil the water, then add the sugar.
- Lower the heat and boil for a few minutes until it becomes slightly thick and sticky.
- Turn the heat off and cool completely before use. Add the rum essence and stir.
Preparing the whipping cream
- Use fridge cold whipping cream, and if possible, cool the mixer's battering tips and bowl in the freezer for a few minutes before starting. It will help obtain the right consistency. It is also important that the cream has at least 30% fat. A skinny one will not set and preserve the decorated shapes well.
- Prepare the gelatin following the instructions on the sachet, but use a lot less water than indicated. I use one tablespoon of water for a gelatin sheet (previously soaked and drained). The gelatin should start to set by the time you whip the cream.
- Whip the cream until you get the right consistency. Avoid extended whipping as it can cause the fats to disintegrate!
- Add the sugar just before finishing, then the almost gelatin and mix to incorporate them, but no longer than this.
- Preferably, split the whipped cream in two. Keep half of it in the mixing bowl and place the other half in a pipe bag, then place it in the fridge until needed.
Assembling the cake
- With a tablespoon, pour the syrup over the cake, careful to cover the entire surface.
- Use half of the whipped cream to cover the top and sides of the cake and level it nicely.
- Decorate upon desire with the cream in the piping bag and any other suitable extras you would like to use.
- Refrigerate overnight before slicing.
I hope you enjoyed reading this recipe! Please share the love by saving this pin to your baking boards; it will help this blog grow and motivate me to write more for your enjoyment! Thank you!