Savor a Sumptuous Celebration: Sage and Apple Upside-Down Cake

Simple and delicious, these recipes taste like harvest and homecoming.

| October/November 2005

Serves 8 to 10 

I’ve always had a fondness for upside-down cakes; my grandmother used to make a good one with cherries in the center of pineapple rings. I suppose as a kid I was intrigued that what was on the bottom of the pan turned out to be on the top. So I make upside-down cakes with all sorts of different toppings. I also like that they are baked in an iron skillet. Both apples and pears are a great combination with sage. This is a simple, moist, not-too-sweet, eat-any-time-of-day kind of cake. Rosemary or savory also would work in this recipe. I use a 10-inch skillet; if you use a 9- or 11-inch skillet, the baking time will vary by 5 to 10 minutes.

• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
• 2 large tart apples, cored, peeled, sliced thin and tossed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 12 to 15 fresh sage leaves
• 2 1/4 cups unbleached flour
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
• 1 cup sugar
• 3 extra-large eggs
• 1 1/2 cups nonfat buttermilk
• About 8 sage leaves, stacked and cut crosswise into very thin chiffonade (about 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh)

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved; it should look like thick chocolate syrup. Continue to cook until the mixture just starts to bubble, and then remove promptly from heat.

Arrange apple slices and whole sage leaves close together in the skillet on top of butter and sugar. Arrange extra apple slices around the sides of the skillet. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and nutmeg.

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