Monday, October 3, 2011

Apple Upside-down Cake with Orange Sabayon

One of the most popular cakes in Russia cooked for family get-togethers is a simple apple upside-down cake which by a mysterious reason is always referred to as Charlotte. The actual Charlotte the rest of the world is familiar with is made of pieces of Swiss roll or ladyfingers that are used to line a mould and a thick fruit mousse as a filling; and even its variation – Charlotte russe – has nothing to do with apples. But never try to explain it to any Russian – they will still call their favourite tea-time cake with a fancy French name.

…This year during the first pressure test the contestants of Masterchef Australia had to cook a trio of Maggie Beer desserts: a frangipane tart, a lemon curd tart and an apple rosemary cake. The amateur cooks were given 2 hours to prepare the dishes and I was a bit surprised to see that some of them ran out of time, while others struggled a lot. I thought: it can’t be that difficult! – and decided to challenge myself and to see how long it will take me to make the cake (the tarts wouldn’t have probably been a problem). So, I took the recipe from the Internet and went to the kitchen. 20 minutes to prepare and cook the apples, 20 minutes for the batter, 20 minutes for sabayon. The cake, of course, was still in the oven but theoretically I had this second hour which, I reckon, would be enough to make a shortcrust pastry, frangipane (while the pastry rests in the fridge) and lemon curd (while the tarts bake). Anyway, this post is a praise not to how disciplined I was that day in the kitchen but to how flavoursome Maggie Beer’s cake was! Of course, I can’t compare it to my mum’s “Charlotte” (which is strongly associated with waking up on Sunday morning with the sweet cinnamon smell!) but it’s definitely worth making! Again and again!

Recipe adapted from the original Maggie Beer’s “Olive oil, apple and rosemary pudding with sabayon”


Poached apples
4 large red apples, peeled, cored, cut into 8 pieces each
300ml orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Cake batter
3 eggs, separated
100 gm caster sugar
75g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
60ml extra virgin olive oil
60ml reserved apple poaching liquid

¼ cup caster sugar
Remaining reserved poaching liquid (less 20ml for sabayon)

20ml apple poaching liquid
1 teaspoon caster sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp Cointreau


  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line the base of a 20cm cake tin.
  2. For poached apples, place apples, orange juice and orange zest in a large pan. Cover and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 10 minutes or until tender. Remove apples from heat and strain, reserving the liquid. Return apples to frying pan and place over a high heat, add extra virgin olive oil and sauté until apples start to colour, remove from heat. Arrange caramelized apple pieces in the base of the prepared cake tin.
  3. For olive oil cake, beat egg whites in a small bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add half the sugar and beat until sugar has dissolved. In a separate bowl, beat yolks and remaining sugar until pale. Sift in flour and baking powder, pour in oil and 60ml reserved apple poaching liquid and mix to combine. Gently fold in meringue, 1/3 at a time until combined. Pour mixture into prepared cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake springs back to the touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Remove from the tin and flip / invert the cake on to a serving dish.
  4. For glaze, pour caster sugar and remaining reserved poaching liquid (don’t forget to put aside 20mls for the sabayon) into a small saucepan. Place over a medium heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half. Brush the cake with prepared glaze.
  5. For sabayon, place all ingredients in a heat proof bowl and place over a shallow water bath. Whisk until pale, light and frothy. When it is thick enough remove from the heat and whisk until cool. Stir in Cointreau and pour into a serving jug or onto individual plates, underneath a slice of a cake.


  1. The original recipe suggested using verjuice for poaching apples. Since we don’t have any here, I substituted it with orange juice and, consequently, changed rosemary for orange zest…and added Cointreau to my sabayon )))
  2. If you like to have a lot of sauce with your cake, double the amount of ingredients. I ran out of my sauce long before even half of the cake was gone and had to make another batch!

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