Friday, August 31, 2012

Cast Iron Cooking

In the 35 years that I've been cooking, I never thought I wanted a cast iron skillet, until recently when I noticed that Pioneer Woman likes to use them for certain recipes.  I mentioned this to a friend in our local Love to Cook Club, and she immediately said she would give me one of hers. I thought, "Sure!  I don't mind getting a hand-me-down skillet."  I was so touched, though, when Pam presented me with a cast iron skillet that belonged to her grandmother.  She estimates that it is almost 100 years old!  Pam was also kind enough to this "cast iron newbie" to provide instructions on how to season the skillet, along with several recipes to get me started.  And today was the day!  After the seasoning, I decided to make Upside-Down Caramelized Apple Cake.  I wish you all could taste the combination of the caramel, roasted pecans, and apples!  So yummy!  

If you have a favorite food that you especially like to cook in a cast iron skillet, please let me know by leaving a comment below.  How about fried chicken?  

Upside-Down Caramelized Apple Cake


1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 T. lemon juice
2 t. vanilla extract, divided
3/4 t. cinnamon, divided
1/2 cup butter, softened and divided
2 t. brandy
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup milk 
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups all-purpose baking mix
1/8 t. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes until toasted and fragrant, stirring after 5 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Toss apple slices with lemon juice, 1 t. vanilla extract, and 1/2 t. cinnamon.

Melt 1/4 cup butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over low heat.  Remove from heat; stir in brandy.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Sprinkle pecans over brown sugar mixture.  Spread apples over the pecans.

Beat 1/2 cup granulated sugar and remaining 1/4 cup butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended.  Add egg yolks, 1 at at time, beating just until blended after each addition.  Add milk, sour cream, and remaining 1 t. vanilla, beating just until blended.  

Whisk together baking mix, nutmeg, and remaining 1/4 t. cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Add mixture to butter mixture, beating just until blended.

Beat egg whites in a large bowl at high speed until soft speaks form.  Gradually beat in remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar until stiff peaks form.  Fold into batter.  Spread batter over apples in skillet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted halfway into center of cake comes out clean.  Cool in skillet on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Carefully run a knife around edge of cake to loosen.  Invert cake onto a serving plate, replacing any topping that sticks to skillet. 

The cake fresh out of the oven

Gooey goodness!  

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