My name is Thomas Lott. I am a proud husband and father of two. Two of my favorite things are football and cooking. I'm no expert in either, but I certainly like to fool around with both. I’ve been a home cook for about 10 years, and been around football since I was 4 years old. This fall, perhaps I’ll find out which one I know better! So I'll be checking in periodically to make a pick - or picks (even I'm allowed a bye week here and there!). Again, I'm no expert, so please don’t go betting the mortgage on my humble picks! From that, I’ll make a dish that has something to do with the game - who I think will win, a star/key player, or other story line. Don’t worry - I’m a home cook so it won’t be anything you can’t do - I promise. I’m still learning so most of these will come from my stash of cookbooks or another recipe floating around the internet. I won’t pawn anything off as my own or pretend there’s some super-secret family recipe that I can't share. Most of these I will probably have made before, others might be an experiment. I hope all will go well, but some may go from stovetop right to the dumpster! I'll be sharing my successes, mishaps, and maybe even a few gratuitous shots of my crew of sous chefs and tasters :-)

I'm always a work in progress, so my food won't *always* be pretty (or healthy!), but it's going to taste good--and if it doesn't I'll tell you that, too. And just so you know, it's also a mathematical certainty that I'll whiff on some of my football picks, too. The whole point is to get better at both! So I hope you keep up with me this fall as I have some fun with the kitchen and the pigskin! I welcome all comments, suggestions, requests and discussions on all things pigskin and kitchen!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Week 9 - Apple Upside Down Cake

I should have known. I even said myself that I know better than to pick Clemson in a big game. I could not believe how horrible the #3 Tigers looked AT HOME. There was no question who was the better team and I'm convinced that if they played each other 10 times, FSU would win 10 times. And Jameis Winston. Jameis Winston. MAN. That's no ordinary redshirt freshmen. I'm going to be completely honest - the moment I saw the clip of him talking to his teammates before the game, I began to feel a bit queasy about my pick. He had this air of true and genuine confidence that you can't fake. I'm not one that's easily impressed and he gained a fan Saturday night. He's often compared to Johnny Manziel, but Jameis, at least to me, looks like everything he does is on purpose. No running around in circles and throwing up prayers. If he can keep his head screwed on straight, the sky is the limit for this guy!

The big game this week is out west in Eugene, Oregon. #12 UCLA travels to the #3 Oregon Ducks. You know how much I like Marcus Mariota and he's orchestrating one of the most powerful offenses I have ever seen. It's hard to catch Oregon games out here in Big 12 country so I'm really looking forward to getting to sit down and watch a full game at primetime (Oh wait, I'll be at a wedding - DVR film session I guess!). I don't think that Oregon is unbeatable at home, but their offense always looks a little bit faster at Autzen. I expect the Ducks to win somewhat comfortably.

Since we'll be seeing green this week, I decided to make some magic with some granny smith apples. I'm going to show you how to make a delicious apple upside down cake. It's kind of like the more common pineapple upside down cake, but the fruit in this cake is more prevalent and tasty. This is from Real Cajun by Donald Link, a great cookbook I've already used once this season and highly recommend.


Carmelized Apple Upside Down Cake

Start out by buttering a cake pan generously with a tablespoon of butter and dusting with 2 tsp of sugar. Shake off any excess.


The Dough

Begin with your dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk them together in a small bowl and set aside.



With a mixer (paddle attachment if possible), cream butter and sugar for about 2 minutes. Add 3 eggs, beating in one at a time, then add vanilla, ginger, and sour cream.


No paddle? No problem!




Slowly stir in dry ingredients, then refrigerate for 2 hours.





The Apples

Peel and core 6 Granny Smith apples and cut into 1 1/2" chunks. Squirt with a little lemon juice to prevent browning. Combine with cardamom and star anise.




Combine sugar and water in a deep saute pan (Important: swirl to make sure the sugar and water are well combined before heating. If not, the water will evaporate away and you'll be left with sugar crystals stuck to your pan. Then you'll have to find a way to clean it and THEN have to start all over......so I've heard). Heat mixture over medium heat until it carmelizes into a rich brown color. Do not stir, but occasionaly swirl pan to make sure it's not sticking. It will bubble and slowly get darker as it carmelizes.




This is about the color you want. Be patient!



Once your sugar mixture is carmelized, whisk in butter and add the apples. Cook for 5 minutes or so, until the apples are dark golden and carmelized, but still a little firm. Remove from the heat and set aside.






Now pour the carmelized apples with the sauce evenly into the buttered baking dish. Spread the batter on top of the apples, making sure to go all the way to the edges.





Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes until the dough is a golden brown and springy to the touch. Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the pan.



After it has cooled a bit, run a paring knife along the side and then invert onto a serving platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.




At first glance it looks like a mold of baked cinnamon apples, but I promise there is 'cake' in there! It definitely tastes like classic baked apples, but the cinnamon cake co-star takes it a step further. It's not even like apple pie - just something different altogether. And it's certainly better than any pineapple version that I've ever had. If you're looking for a departure from typical apple pie, pineapple upside down cake, or baked apples, I highly recommend this one. My family thoroughly enjoyed this and I'm sure you all will too!








Carmelized Apple Upside Down Cake
From Real Cajun by Donald Link

6 tbsp  butter at room temperature
¾ C sugar plus 2 tsp
1 ¾ C All-purpose flour
½ tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 c sour cream

For Apples
6 Granny Smith apples
2 C sugar
½ C water
6 tbsp cold butter cut into small pieces
½ tbsp. ground cardamom
1 tbsp ground star anise

1)Preheat oven to 325. Generously grease a 10 inch cake pan with 1 tbsp of butter and then dust with 2 tsp of remaining sugar, shaking out excess.

2)Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

3)In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the remaining 5 tbsp butter and 3/4 C sugar on medium speed until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated, then add the vanilla, ginger and sour cream; mix until just combined. Stir in the dry ingredients slowly, until just combined, then refrigerate the batter for 2 hours.

4)Peel and core the apples and cut into 1 ½ inch chunks.

5)Heat the sugar and water in a large, deep sauté pan over medium heat and cook the sugar-water mixture until it carmelizes to a medium brown color, 12 to 14 minutes. (You can gently shake the pan and occasionally brush down the sides of the pan with water, but try not to stir the mixture or the sugar will stick to the spoon and the sides of the pan.) Whisk in butter.

6)Combine the apples, cardamom, and star anise in a medium bowl and toss to combine, Add the apples to the caramel and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the apples are dark golden and carmelized, but still firm; remove from heat and set aside.

7)Evenly spread the apples with all the caramel in the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Spread the batter over the apples, making sure to go all the way to the edges of the dish. Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown and springy to the touch, about 30 minutes.

8)Run a paring knife around the rim of the cake, place a serving plate on top of the pan, and invert the cake onto the plate. Use a spatula to scrape any remaining apples and caramel onto the cake.

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