Yes, I made a cake.
Yes, it had bacon in it. Or, rather, it had bacon on it. With tart apples and coconut sugar.
It was incredibly earthy, marvelously moist and unbelievably delicious; savory and just sweet enough. I’m already thinking it will be a dessert at Thanksgiving, it was THAT good.
A couple of weeks ago while looking for a gluten-free cake recipe that didn’t use alternate grains, I ran across a recipe someone had adapted from The Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry for Very Vanilla Cupcakes. I’m not big on cupcakes, but most cupcake recipes can be made into a cake, and vice versa. While the recipe used almond flour, it also called for safflower oil and agave syrup, neither of which I cook with (safflower oil, even when it’s organic, is still industrially processed in order to make it shelf stable; agave is also highly refined and nearly 100% fructose). It didn’t take much to adapt the recipe further, so, in anticipation of a picnic at a co-worker’s home, I made a pear upside-down cake – mostly to use up some pears that were in danger of becoming overripe to the point of being fit for nothing other than the compost bucket.
That cake was lovely, but I made it in my 12″ cast iron skillet which was simply too large for the amount of batter this recipe makes (it was still good enough to be devoured by other members of the household before I could have more than a single piece – that’s a win in my book). I knew immediately what I needed to do to tweak the recipe further to make it better than good. It took me a week to find the time to make the cake again, but the wait was entirely worth it. Even The Young One liked the very small piece he had – and the kid has an aversion to cooked apples as well as any cake that’s not chocolate.
Of course, the bacon might have had something to do with that.
If you don’t eat bacon, or simply cannot fathom the thought of it on a cake, you can leave it off and substitute the bacon fat with butter. It will still be a delicious and healthy indulgence without a single refined ingredient in sight. Next, I think I’ll see what I can do about turning the basic recipe into a carrot cake.
Apple Bacon Upside-Down Cake
2 small tart apples, such as Granny Smith or Macintosh, peeled and sliced
4 ounces thick-cut bacon, diced
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup light olive oil
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 1/4 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Cook the bacon in a 10″ cast iron skillet over medium-low heat until crisp and all of the fat is rendered. Take the skillet off of the heat; remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels and set aside. Drain all of the bacon fat except 2 tablespoons and reserve for another use.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup coconut sugar evenly over the bottom of the skillet, then scatter the bacon over the sugar. Arrange the apple slices on top of the sugar and bacon.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, olive oil, 1/2 cup coconut sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon juice until well combined. In a separate mixing bowl, stir together the almond flour, salt and baking soda. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in 2 or 3 additions, stirring and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl each time, until the batter is smooth – it will still be “grainy” because of the almond flour, but make sure there are no lumps. Spread the batter gently and evenly over the apples and bacon in the skillet.
Bake the cake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Place the skillet on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Run a thin, flexible spatula around the edges of the cake, then invert a serving dish on top of the skillet. Carefully, using pot holders and/or oven mitts, flip the skillet over on top of the serving dish and carefully lift away from the cake. Use the spatula to place any bacon or apple slices that may have stuck to the bottom of the skillet back onto the cake.
Allow to cool completely before serving.
Nutrition (per serving): 387 calories, 27.9g total fat, 56.1mg cholesterol, 332.3mg sodium, 277.8mg potassium, 23.2g carbohydrates, 3.8g fiber, 18.8g sugar, 3.3g protein.