Caramelized Apple Upside Down Cornbread Cake

Yesterday was the first day of fall; did you know it didn’t start until 10:49 AM?  So those of you celebrating at Starbucks with your Pumpkin Lattes before…well, you cheated :).   I love the fall season and all the gifts it brings, even in Central Florida, where we seem to skip the refreshing cool, breezy days, you still see the harvest being celebrated despite the warm, sticky temperatures.

Pumpkins, apples, caramel, corn, root vegetables, and squashes are being turned out by women across the area, the same ladies that are forcing the jean and boot season to start as soon as the highs fall below 90.  I have learned after years of living in Central Florida to reluctantly join them, otherwise I’d miss the autumn season entirely. 

When I was at the College of Charleston I took a trip with friends to the mountains to see the leaves change colors.  We stopped at a road side market, where I insisted on buying some apples to make fresh apple sauce.  After the grill was going and happy hour had started I was able to coerce my friends into peeling apples; which I then chopped up and threw in a pot.  They simmered for about 8 hours, never getting to the point of apple sauce but they did become somewhat of a trip mascot.  We certainly did cheer them on!  I only pretended to know what I was doing in the kitchen when I was in college (sometimes I still do a little of that) but my love of apple baking was ignited.

This dessert is straight out of the South, right on Meeting Street, Charleston SC.   It was adapted from a recipe in The Local Palate, developed by Chef Frank Lee of SNOB and Maverick Restaurants


  • 8 ounces butter, split in ½
  • 1 & ¼ cup brown rice syrup
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered and seeded
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup self-rising flour


Preheat oven to 325.  In a heavy bottom, oven ready sauté pan over medium high heat melt 4 ounces of butter and 1 cup of brown rice syrup.  Arrange apples in the sauté pan round side down and remove from heat.  In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, buttermilk, ¼ cup of brown rice syrup.   Mix in cornmeal and salt, followed by flour.  Blend until just mixed and pour evenly over apples.   Bake for 35-40 minutes and cool for 5 minutes.

When ready to serve, place a large plate over the sauté pan (one with a deep surface as there is quite a bit of sauce) and gently flip.  Slice into wedges and garnish with whip cream and fresh apples.

Serves 8-10, depending how hungry!

A scoop of Brown Butter Ice Cream would be perfect to serve with this dessert- or even some of Chef Matt’s bacon brittle.  I am not a bacon eater, but I won’t keep you from adding it!

I told Sir Wes, that this would be a great appetizer if you replace the first butter with bacon and remove the brown rice syrup from the cornbread.  Bake it in small individual dishes and serve warm- bacon, apples and cornbread, sounds like a good combination.

Cheers to the beginning of fall, and of course the start of jeans and boot season!