It’s late September, just past the autumn equinox, and just a few days in to my favorite time of year. I’m overrun with apples, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. The apple orchard this time of year is pure magic. The whole harvest season seems filled with magic to me - first the apples, then the pumpkins and winter squashes - all with the backdrop of cooling temperatures, changing leaves, and the beginning of sweater weather.
Having already made two apple pies, applesauce, and apple pie scones, I needed something else to add to my apple baking repertoire. I’ve always loved the appeal of skillet cakes – they seem so rustic and homey, like something I could make (almost) as easily over a woodstove in a log cabin as in my modern kitchen. So an apple skillet cake seemed like a good plan.
Blackberries are an excellent companion to apples, which I didn’t know until we moved to this spot in the country several years ago, and I found blackberries flourishing in the woods this time of year. So I added some to this cake because they bring just a little bit more complexity to the flavor, a little burst of sweetness, but they aren’t overwhelming. They’re a nice compliment to the apples, cinnamon and hint of nutmeg in the cake.
This cake would be just as good with a regular whipped cream, but just for fun I decided to sweeten it with maple syrup and add a little bourbon. Because…why not? The flavor is subtle, but not too subtle, and pairs perfectly with the flavors in the cake. I’m already looking forward to making this whipped cream to go with gingerbread in the coming months.
Apple Blackberry Skillet Cake with Maple Bourbon Whipped Cream Recipe
Ingredients for the Cake:
½ c. butter, melted
½ c. whole milk (if you don’t have whole, just add a little cream or butter to the milk you have on hand)
¼ c. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ¾ c. all-purpose flour
½ c. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated, if you have it
Ingredients for the Fruit Filling:
4-4/12 c. apples, peeled and sliced (about 5 small apples) I like to bake with Paula Red, Macintosh, and Cortland varieties
1/4 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. blackberries
Ingredients for the Maple Bourbon Whipped Cream:
1 c. cold, heavy cream
½ tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. bourbon (more or less to suit your tastes - add 1 tsp. at a time)
Heat oven to 350°F and grease your cast iron skillet with butter.
To prepare the fruit, peel and slice the apples, and toss in a medium bowl with the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. The blackberries can stay as they are. Set aside the apples and the blackberries while you mix the cake.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, milk, vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until you have a smooth, and slightly thick, batter. Pour the cake batter into the greased skillet and spoon the apple mixture onto the top of it, pressing it in just slightly. Sprinkle the blackberries over the top of the cake, pressing them in as you go.
Bake the cake for 40-50 min, depending on both your oven and the size of your skillet. Mine is 10” so the cake is on the thinner side and cooks more quickly. If your skillet is 9”, you’ll likely cook to 50 min. Use a toothpick or the tip of a knife to test for doneness. You want the cake cooked through (no batter on the toothpick) but not overbaked and dry.
While the cake is baking, whip the cream with the maple syrup, vanilla, and bourbon. I use my stand mixer to make quick work of this job, but of course you can do it by hand if you prefer.
When the cake is finished, allow to cool for 10 min on a rack, and then serve with a healthy sized dollop of the maple bourbon whipped cream.