Apple and Cranberry Upside-Down Cakes
This recipe, from Fore Street restaurant in Portland, Maine, calls for using six 4" steel blini pans. But you can make a single cake in an 8" cast-iron skillet, if you prefer. If fresh or frozen cranberries aren't available, use reconstituted dried berries.
FOR THE FRUIT:
1 1⁄2 cups plus 1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. cold butter
2 firm cooking apples, such as liberty,
northern spy, or baldwin
1 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
FOR THE BATTER:
1 cup cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 pinches salt
6 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
1⁄2 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp. applejack or calvados
1⁄2 cup milk
1. For the fruit: Preheat oven to 350°. Put 1 1⁄2 cups of the sugar and 1⁄4 cup water into a medium saucepan, cover, and boil over high heat until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Uncover and cook until sugar turns amber, about 8 minutes. Working quickly, remove pan from heat, add butter, swirling pan until melted, then immediately pour caramel into each of six 4" steel blini pans (or skillet), tilting them to coat bottom evenly. Set aside.
2. Peel, core, and slice apples into 1⁄4"-thick rounds. Divide apple slices among pans, overlapping them slightly, and set aside. Put cranberries, remaining 1 tbsp. sugar, and 1 tbsp. water into a medium skillet and cook over medium-high heat, shaking skillet over heat, until berries just pop, about 3 minutes. Divide cranberries evenly among pans, spooning over apples, and set aside.
3. For the batter: Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl, and set aside. Put butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and applejack and beat until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Add a third of the flour and milk alternately, beating batter on low speed until just mixed; repeat process twice.
4. Divide batter among pans, smoothing it over fruit. Bake until cakes are deep golden, 20–35 minutes. Run tip of knife around rim of each pan between cake and pan, then carefully invert cakes onto individual plates.