pretty in pink – cinnamon poached apple cake

pretty in pink – cinnamon poached apple cake

Once in a while, I’ll spot a produce item that’s totally captivating—perhaps for its inherent natural beauty or how it could be transformed in the kitchen.  So there at Montgomery Place Orchard one Saturday morning amongst the typical autumnal color palette of browns, orange, yellows, auburns and vibrant reds sat a proud bushel of pale green apples with an undertone of blush.

Beside it stood slices of this ethereal Pink Pearl apple exposing its rosy flesh. The apple tasted just as sweet and delicate as it appeared.


In this recipe, the dark brown sugar upside-down effect contrasts with the iridescent poached apples. The cake not only highlights the Pink Pearl in appearance, but the poaching respects the delicate sweetness of an heirloom gem.cake_apple_cinnamon_quad

Cinnamon Poached Apple Cake


Cinnamon Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon brandy
Cinnamon Upside Down Cake
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 16 tablespoons (8 ounces/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1-1/4 cups) granulated sugar
Poached Apples
  • 4 Pink Pearl or Granny Smith apples, peeled. halved and cored (try to leave stems attached)
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 quart of water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Cinnamon Cake
  • Poached Apples
  • Confectioners’ sugar (optional)Poaching Syrup


Cinnamon Sugar

1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350℉. Butter a 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pan, set aside.

2. In a small saucepan, add all ingredients and bring a simmer, until sugar has dissolved. remove from heat and pour into prepared pan, set aside.

Cinnamon Upside Down Cake

1. Add eggs and vanilla to a measure cup, whisk to combine, set aside. In a medium bowl, add flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, whisk to combine, set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, add butter and both sugar, beat on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Reduce speed to medium, add egg mixture, a little at a time, until incorporated. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture, beat until flour mixture is fully incorporated.

3. Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan and smooth top with small off-set spatula. Bake until until firm to touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean about 45-55 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool completely. (Cover cake with plastic wrap until ready to assemble).

Poached Apples

1. In a large pot, add all ingredients and bring to a simmer over medium heat, about 15-20 minute. Apples should be soften but still holds their shape, pierce with a small knife to check for doneness. Remove apples with slotted spoon onto a large plate in single layer.

2. Continue to cook poaching liquid until it’s the consistency of a light syrup. Remove from heat and strained into a container or serving bowl.


1. Invert cake upside down, using a paring knife, make a 1-inch deep trough in the center, leaving a 3/4-inch border all around. Scoop out trough part of the cake and reserve for snacking. (Do not worry if bottom of trough is not perfectly leveled, it will be covered by apples.)

2. Decorate trough with apple halves or quarters as desire. (You’ll only use 2 apples) Serve remaining apples on the side. Dust edge of cake with confectioners’ sugar. Slice cake and serve with drizzle of poaching syrup and additional apples (if desired).

Additional serving idea: Brandied Whipped Cream or Sweetened Sour Cream