September 28, 2009
If you’ve been reading ChowMama for a while, you may have noticed a slow—but steady!—increase in sweets recipes over the last few months. I’d like to say it’s my “everything in moderation” philosophy in action as Isaac gets older but, really, it’s all about my pregnancy! Isaac and the ChowPapa have just gotten lucky as a result!
Most of my recent baked goodies made use of seasonal fruit, like my Sour Cream Peach Pie and Cinnamon Cardamom Cherry Crisp (both of which can be made with frozen fruit now that summer is over). Others, like these Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies, are simple classics that are fun to make and enjoy with young kids. After all, once you know the deliciousness of homemade chocolate chip cookies, who wants the processed packaged kind?!
In contrast, my latest concoction, this Apple & Candied Bacon Upside Down Cake, is totally over the top. All I have to say is: I’m carrying in my uterus a child who could easily live on the outside. I want what I want and my appetite knows no bounds!
Needless to say, this is not my most family friendly recipe. Isaac’s never even had bacon before! But, as I’ve said before (and before that) it’s incredibly important that we parents remember to enjoy food for ourselves. The more joy we take in whole, natural (if a little sinful) foods, the more joy our kids will take in the same.
So, instead of using the fruits of our recent apple picking trip in a kid-centric recipe, I followed a craving and experimented with this cake. Thank goodness I did (I’m quickly getting the hang of this baking thing!). It doesn’t use so much bacon that it’s totally inappropriate for kids. It can easily be shared with older toddlers and kids to whom you feel comfortable feeding a small amount of bacon and bacon fat. It’s also very easy to separate the topping from the cake, a simple apple-sauce cake with no trace of bacon that’s great for kids as young as 10 or 12 months. Ultimately, this is a versatile dessert that can be shared with even very young eaters, so don’t be shy—go for it!
Apple & Candied Bacon Upside Down Cake
(see note about age above)
4 strips organic, nitrate-free, thick cut bacon (I used applewood smoked)
2 tbsp, plus 1/4 c organic light brown sugar
1/2 tbsp organic maple syrup
3 organic apples, peeled, cored & each cut into 8 wedges
1 tbsp freshly squeeze organic lemon juice
3 tsp organic cinnamon
1 1/2 c organic all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
9 tbsp organic butter
1/2 c organic granulated sugar
2 large organic eggs
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
1/2 c organic apple sauce
1/2 c organic milk (I used 2%, whole or skim should work too)
Candy the bacon
1. Preheat oven to 350. Mix 2 tablespoons light brown sugar and maple syrup into a paste. Put bacon on a parchment lined baking sheet and spread 1/2 of the paste on the top side. Bake for 10 min.
2. Remove bacon from oven. Spoon 2 tbsp of bacon fat into a 9″ cake pan & set aside. Flip bacon and slather with remaining sugar-maple paste. Return to oven for 5-7 min, until it takes on a nice dark color, but is still lying flat. (You don’t want to crisp the bacon completely since it will cook more in the cake pan.) Remove from oven and set aside. Keep oven at 350.
Prep apple-bacon topping
1. Toss apple wedges with lemon juice and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
2. When bacon is cool, chop and toss bits with apples.
Make cake batter:
1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.
2. Beat 8 tablespoons butter and granulated sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla and apple sauce until well incorporated. Using the lowest speed, mix in 1/3 of flour mixture; then 1/2 of milk; another 1/3 of flour; remaining milk; remaining flour.
Assemble the cake:
1. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the bacon fat already set aside in your cake pan. Add 1/4 c light brown sugar. Heat over a very low flame until all of the fat is melted and sugar begins to bubble. Remove from heat and spread sugar evenly (approximately!) across bottom of the pan.
2. Arrange prepped apples in a pinwheel on top of sugar coating, getting most of bacon bits onto the bottom of the pan.
3. Pour batter over apples and spread evenly.
4. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the sides easily pull away from the edge of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let rest in pan for 15 min before placing a plate on top of the pan and flipping the cake over.