I spent last week in gorgeous Glenelg, South Australia at the National Junior Beach Volleyball Championships watching my children and other talented kids play the game they love representing their home states. It was fun in the sun. Lots of sand, surf, sport and sunscreen... and I may have eaten a cake or two between games. But the holiday is over and while I'm no longer able to spend whole days on the beach, I can still enjoy a slice of something sweet with my morning coffee. So it's pretty much business as usual.
Oh, and here are some shots of Glenelg for you, if you're into that kind of thing:
Brown Sugar Apple Upside Down Cake with Apple Cider Caramel and Spiced Walnuts
slightly adapted from here
For the Apple Cider Caramel:
1 litre of apple juice (I squeezed my own apples, but you can use cold-pressed or cloudy apple juice)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
For the Cake:
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced into wedges
140g unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups plain flour
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
For the Spiced Walnuts:
1 teaspoon almond oil
1 cup walnut halves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Make the Apple Cider Caramel:
Grease and line the base of a 23 cm round cake pan. Set aside.
Put the apple juice into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a lively simmer and cook the juice without stirring, until it becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and the salt. Pour half of the caramel into the prepared cake pan and reserve the remaining half.
Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Arrange the apple slices over the base of the cake pan in the caramel. I made a fancy fan pattern, but you don't have to. Set aside.
Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat again.
Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, followed by half the buttermilk. Add another third of the flour mixture and then the remaining buttermilk. Finally, at the last of the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the cake pan, on top of the caramel and apples. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before inverting onto a cake plate.
Make the Spiced Walnuts:
Heat the almond oil gently over medium-low heat in a frying pan. Add the walnuts and toss until they are slightly toasted. Add the spices and continue to cook for another minute, tossing to coat. Set aside to cool completely.
While the cake is still warm, top with the spiced walnuts and serve with reserved apple cider caramel at the table. Would be killer with some vanilla ice cream.