Oh, this is a lovely cake. Really wonderful flavor, not too sweet, and a nice ratio of apple to cake--it's not such a thick layer of apples that it becomes a chore to eat. Or where you squash the cake trying to cut through the apple layer with your fork. :)
I used one Granny Smith and one Yellow Delicious apple, following Cooks Illustrated's recommendation of mixing apple varieties. I would have gone for Honeycrisp, but those are too good as eating apples. (OK, and I wasn't sure how they'd bake--this cake needs the apple to stay in fairly coherent slices.) My able assistant (my younger niece) used the apple peeler/slicer/corer, which was perhaps a little bit of overkill for 2 apples, but hey, kitchen gadgets are part of the fun.
We didn't get much apple juice after letting the slices sit, tossed with lemon juice and brown sugar, so I added a little boiled cider to punch up the apple flavor and add to the liquid volume. I didn't see a great color change as the butter, brown sugar, and apple juices cooked, so I went by time and added an extra minute to be sure.
Then it was on to layering the apples in the pan, which went quickly. Note: next time put the core-side up--ours looked pretty before the batter was poured on, but turned upside-down the pretty pattern was lost and all the cored-out sides were exposed.
The easy batter was dolloped on top, and the pan went into the oven on top of a pre-heated baking stone. I had a few batter-bubbles rise even though I'd rapped the pan on the counter before baking, but I just reached in with a skewer about half-way through the cooking time and collapsed them. It didn't seem to hurt anything--but then, the bubbles might have been fine left alone, too, as the cake gets up-ended for serving. The cake came out of the pan leaving only one apple piece and a little of the 'goo' behind, both of which were stuck back on top of the cake before the toasted nuts went on top. We used pecans--we like them much better than walnuts for most everything. Goes with being Georgia natives, maybe...I just drove by several pecan orchards this afternoon on my way to an event in south Georgia.
Here's the finished cake. In the interest of sharing cake with the (underage) nieces and nephew, I used just a touch of whiskey (Jack Daniels) in the whipped cream, and really it was just about right for me, too. The flavor of the whipped cream was still apparent with just a little enhancement from the whiskey.
Various conflicts interfered with collecting comments from taste-testers other than from the niece who assisted with the baking--she really liked it. As did I. I'll be making this one again, for sure.
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