October. The beautiful in-between. Caught in the grip of a winter-to-be and just out of reach of summer’s passing. The leaves have long since begun their pilgrimage down and the temperatures now in a rut of frigid evenings and brisk, early mornings. But during the meat of the day October holds characteristics true to itself, bone-warming in the sun and crisp along the shady edges. And the flavours of the season are pronounced and comforting and meant for times like these.
It only takes me a flat second when I think back to the fondest memories of my youth to conjure up images related to events in October. Collecting piles of leaves and ruining them with one full swoop, the aroma cider makes when it’s warmed on the stove on a cold day and picking apples at the orchard near my grandparents, with my grandfather patiently waiting in the car. I would settle in and grab hold of the first branch, shaking it gently enough to disturb one apple to the ground. My first picked apple has left a mark on me ever since. And it always brings me back to that small city orchard on a tepid day this time of year.
Looking back I’m not sure what happened to that first bunch. But I can safely assume it found its way into a pie or crumble back at my grandmother’s house, where she worked so diligently in her tiny county kitchen. She would disappear for a time and you knew where she was when her white tattered oven creaked on opening as she placed that night’s dessert inside. It was a smallish bungalow so it didn’t take long for the scent to reach us and remind us of our day’s excursion.
It’s ironic that we now reside in that same small city I used to visit. And I’m just steps from the market and a short drive to the local orchard. It was at the market where I grabbed these apples, freshly picked earlier that day. I instantly knew dessert was in order, only I don’t have the same baking skills that graced my grandmother. Instead I find other ways to incorporate the apples picked up that day. In this dessert, upside-down apple cakes.
I picked the last day of September and a Sunday flickering between warm and cold to dig in to the kitchen for a baking day. With the windows pushed up high I quickly got to work slicing apples and working between dry ingredients and wet ones. Once added to the processor and mixed and combined I poured them into two muffin tins and placed them in the oven. And the same scent from my youth paid me a visit. It wasn’t made with the precision of my grandmother, but it tasted just as good.
With October upon us, W and I have a month to create our own lifelong recollections. And we’re off to a good start. We met five years ago this month too so I’m fond of it for so many reasons. If only my grandmother was around to meet my wife and sit back as I made us the dessert this time.
From my kitchen to yours.
Upside-Down Apple Cakes with Golden Syrup
- 2 apples, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup golden syrup
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 3/4 cup cake flour (salt and baking powder already added)
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1 stick of butter, cut into rough pieces
- 1 organic egg
- golden syrup, to top
- Preheat the oven to 350°F .
- In a medium saucepan add the golden syrup, honey, sugar, milk and oil and bring heat to medium. Stir often until the sugar has dissolved and set aside to cool.
- Get your food processor out and place the cake flour, nutmeg, salt and butter into the bowl and process until it looks like breadcrumbs. With the motor still running, add the syrup mixture and process until well combined. Add in the egg and process until mixed.
- Lightly grease the base and sides of a dozen muffin tins. Pour a dollop of the golden syrup in the bottom of each tin and an apple slice over top. Pour the mixture over the apple slices until 3/4 full.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack.
- Place two cakes on a plate and drizzle some golden syrup over top.
- Serves 12.