Apples and Chicken sausage in cornmeal cake look so elegant. This mini meal resembles pineapple upside-down cake or apple tarte tatin, but the variety of tastes and textures make it something completely different. Everyone has a favorite apple, but I suggest using Granny Smith because of its firm texture, which is retained after it cooks. As alternatives, use Pink Lady or Honeycrisp apples. The recipe for Maple-Glazed Apples makes about twice as much as you need, so you can bathe the Cornmeal and Currant Cake in as much of it as you like. I also love to use the apples as a topping for waffles or oatmeal, on toast, mixed with yogurt, or even just as a yummy dessert.
Make Ahead: This recipe can be assembled in the pan the night before, refrigerated, and then popped into the oven in the morning for a freshly baked, hassle-free breakfast.
Prep time: 1 hour
Baking time: 20 to 25 minutes
FOR THE MAPLE-GLAZED APPLES ¹⁄³ cup (75 ml) pure maple syrup 1 tablespoon brandy ½ teaspoon cinnamon ¹⁄8 teaspoon ground cloves ¹⁄8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg Pinch of kosher salt 8 large Granny Smith or other favorite tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch (6-mm) dice
FOR THE CORNMEAL AND CURRANT CAKE
1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (80 g) yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¹⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
¹⁄³ cup (50 g) dried currants
1¼ cups (300 ml) whole-milk yogurt
2 large eggs
½ cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled FOR THE ASSEMBLY Cooking spray, for the pan 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened ¼ cup (55 g) packed light brown sugar 12 ounces (340 g) fully cooked chicken apple sausage, cut into ¼-inch (6-mm) dice 4 teaspoons maple sugar or brown sugar, plus more for serving ¾ cup (180 ml) pure maple syrup, warmed, for serving
MAKE THE GLAZED APPLES In a 12-quart (12-L) stockpot, combine 2 cups (480 ml) of water, the maple syrup, brandy, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt, and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, then add the apples. Lower the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes. The mixture should be chunky and the apples should hold their shape. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool slightly, about 20 minutes. MAKE THE CORNMEAL CURRANT CAKE
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and currants. In a separate bowl, stir together the yogurt and eggs. Add the yogurt mixture and the cooled, melted butter to the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
ASSEMBLE AND BAKE THE CAKES
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Spray a 12-well classic cupcake pan generously with nonstick cooking spray.
In a small bowl, mix the butter with the brown sugar. Spread the butter-sugar mixture evenly in the bottom of each well of the pan. Place 1 tablespoon of the glazed apples on top, then add a layer of sausage, distributing it evenly among the 12 wells. Mound ¼ cup (60 ml) of the cornmeal batter in each well and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the maple sugar. Bake until cooked through and golden brown around the edges, 20 to 25 minutes.
Let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then loosen the sides of each cake with a table knife and invert the cakes onto a sheet pan. Some of the apples may stick to the pan, but they are easily removed with a small spoon. Plate the cakes individually, drizzled with warm maple syrup and garnished with more maple sugar.
Store the cakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to TK days. Reheat at 350ºF (175ºC).
VARIATION: For a muffinlike dish, mix 3⁄4 cup (170 g) of the maple-glazed apples and sausage into the batter. Pour the batter into each well of the pan, then top with 1 ⁄4 teaspoon of maple sugar. Bake at 350°F (175°C) until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the top comes out with a few moist crumbs, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve with a dollop of maple butter: 1 ⁄4 cup (1 ⁄ 2 stick / 60 g) salted butter, softened, beaten with 1 ⁄4 cup (60 ml) of maple syrup.