Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gingerbread Apple Upside-down Cake and Cinnamon Buns

Another new post in the same week you ask? My Answer? YES. And in fact, this is a post so delicious and so very wintery, that you need to get ready. Prepare yourself. Get out your hot apple cider, hot chocolate, start a fire in the fireplace (or if you don't have a fireplace, at least light this candle), and put on some comfy house slippers. Today we've got gingerbread apple upside-down cake and cinnamon buns. mmm, spicy and sweet and perfect for cold weather.

Gingerbread Apple Upside-down Cake - adapted from SmittenKitchen
4 tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing pan
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
4 apples (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch wedges

1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup dark molasses
1/3 cup honey
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Very softly whipped cream

Start with the topping
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 10-inch cake pan. Melt butter in a small saucepan.

2. Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, four minutes, then swirl in salt. Remove from heat and pour into the bottom of your cake pan.

3. Make circles of overlapping apple slices on top of the caramel. Chop any remaining slices and place them in the gaps.

For the batter:
1. Using a mixer, blend 1/2 cup butter and the sugar on medium-low speed. Increase the speed to high and cream until light and fluffy.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, molasses, honey and buttermilk. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Alternate mixing the flour and molasses mixtures into the butter mixture, adding the next once the last has been incorporated.

3. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake at least 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn out onto a platter and enjoy!

(Yes, I realize it's not the most beautiful photography, but that didn't stop us destroying half of this cake in one night).

For the Cinnamon Buns (careful - they're addicting) - about 18 buns, also from SmittenKitchen

For the Dough you'll need:
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise or instant yeast (from 1 envelope yeast)
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

And for the Filling:
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
Optional: Pecans and Raisins (quantity as desired) 

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions for the Dough:
1. Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, about 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.

2. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add additional 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl.

3. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. (I used a KitchenAid dough hook instead) Form into ball.

4.  Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Instructions filling/making the buns:
1. Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and pinch of salt in medium bowl.

2. Press down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15×11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon mixture evenly over butter. Sprinkle on pecans and raisins as/if desired.

3. Starting at the longer side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, trim ends straight if they are uneven and cut remaining dough crosswise with thin sharp knife (i used my bread knife) into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide). We baked the end pieces in a tiny loaf pan so as not to waste them.

4. Spray two 9-inch glass baking dishes (rectangle or square is fine, an 8-inch square metal pan worked just fine, too) with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes. Don't skip on this like I did, your rolls just won't come out as pretty, though they will taste just as good.

5. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.

Finally, Glaze the rolls: Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.

SmittenKitchen says "These buns were best the day they were baked. The second day, they were on the tough side. If you anticipate wanting them over a few days, glaze them to order, heating the buns beforehand to soften them up" - but you know what? Justin and I ate them for like 3 days - cold and preglazed and all.


  1. Clare, I just wanted to thank you for mentioning Bon Appetit Hon over at recipegirl.com. It looks like you've been doing great things in your kitchen. Looking forward to seeing what you're cooking up in 2010.

  2. Thanks for commenting! My blog has been moved to http://honeydokitchen.wordpress.com , please visit sometime!!