The FINAL apple recipe is here!
1. Set out 6 tablespoons of butter and 2 eggs so they come to room temperature.
2. Butter a 9-inch pie dish.
I always save the butter wrapper after using a softened stick of butter. There is usually a little bit of butter stuck to the paper still so I fold it in half, stick it in the fridge and pull it out when I need to butter a pan. My grandma did it… my mom did it… I do it… my daughters will probably do it. 🙂
3. Prep your apples
The recipe calls for only one and a quarter Granny Smith apples but I ended up using a bit more than this. It just depends on the size of the apples and your pie pan! Mine is a 10-inch pan so I needed 22 slices instead of 15. You shouldn’t need more than 2 apples though 🙂
Peel, quarter and core two Granny Smith apples. Cut each of the quarters into thirds (one apple = 12 wedges). If you have an exceptionally large apple you may need to cut each quarter into fourths… your call!
Arrange the apple wedges in your pie pan in a circle around the perimeter and then place three or four of the wedges in the center of the pan. You want them packed in fairly tightly…
Next it’s time to pour 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water into a small saucepan. Put this over high heat. You can give it a quick stir right at the beginning but then DON’T TOUCH IT!! If you do, it will harden up and be ruined! If you do feel the urge to “stir” the mixture you can gently swirl the pan. Nothing else. Trust me.
You want this to cook until it turns a warm amber color. If you have a candy thermometer you need to heat the mixture to 360 degrees F. I tried this the first time… and I ruined my cake… the temperature rose very slowly and then suddenly shot up quickly. When it reached 360 I quickly pulled it off the heat but it was too late. I had to start over. Rinse, scrub, dry… add the sugar, water, boil, simmer… (sigh)
Thankfully, I had more success with my next two attempts and my courage was restored!
You want to take the caramelized sugar off the heat before the thermometer reaches 360 F because its temperature will continue to rise quite a bit off the heat. You will know you are within a minute or two of needing to take it off when the mixture becomes a light, golden color.
If you do ruin it, no problem, start again and take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. After all, burning your sugar may just mean you’re happily in love… you’ll have to see the “A is for Apple Tarts” post if you have no idea what I’m talking about. 🙂
As soon as your sugar/water mixture is done, pour it right over the apples in the pie pan, trying to cover the slices evenly.
Set this aside… you’ll need it shortly.
TIME TO BAKE!
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Start by putting your 6 TBSP of room temperature butter and 3/4 cup sugar in a bowl (or KitchenAid Mixer… I don’t have one so my instructions will be with a hand blender). You want to cream the butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy.
Crack 2 eggs into a small bowl. With your mixer on low speed, add 1 egg at a time and mix until they are combined.
Add 1/3 cup sour cream, 1 tsp of lemon zest, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Mix again until all of these ingredients are also combined into the mixture…
DON’T OVER MIX!! Just beat each item in until they are combined.
Put a mesh sieve over a small mixing bowl.
To the sieve add your flour, baking soda, and fine salt.
Holding the sieve just above the bowl, lightly tap the side of it to sift all the flour mixture out into the mixing bowl. This will ensure that your ingredients are nice and smooth with no clumps and will make for a better cake! Sometimes there are small clumps in flour that you can’t see until you sift them. It’s really not that hard of an extra step (unless you don’t have a sieve… then, I admit, it’s a tricky step).
If you don’t have a sieve (a fine mesh strainer), just use a wire whisk to mix these dry ingredients… it will produce a very similar result!
With the mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture at a time to the batter and stir it until each addition is combined.
Spoon large dollops of the cake batter right on top of the caramelized apples. Try to cover the whole surface area with dollops and then use a rubber spatula to smooth the cake down into the pan evenly.
Use a spatula to smooth out the mixture evenly over the apples. Do this carefully so you don’t upset the apple mixture underneath!
Bake the cake for 30-40 minutes, checking at 30 minutes and every 2 minutes after for doneness with a toothpick… it should come out clean. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes. Then run a rubber spatula all the way around the outside of the cake, loosening it well from the sides of the pan.
Place your serving dish upside-down on top of the pie pan, lining them up evenly for a flip. Flip the pie upside down and the serving plate right side up so that the cake turns apples-side-up! If an apple sticks just stick it back in its pattern… no one will ever know!
Here’s Ina Garten’s recipe for her “Apple Tatin”… thank you Ina!
The finished product: