Upside-down Apple Pancake

3 Granny Smith apples
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground cloves, if desired

1½ cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
4 eggs
¼ teaspoon each vanilla extract and ground cardamom, if desired
Maple syrup

Quarter apples, remove cores and slice each quarter into thirds. Melt butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet* over medium-high heat, being careful not to brown or overheat. Add apples and stir to coat with butter. Add brown sugar and spices and stir thoroughly. Turn off heat, leaving skillet on the burner.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and baking powder; in another bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs and vanilla and cardamom, if desired. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and mix well. Batter will be slightly thicker than regular pancake batter. Pour batter over sautéed apples in skillet and place skillet in a preheated 350-degree oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven. Run a knife around the edge and turn upside down on a large plate or platter. Pour generous amount of maple syrup over pancake. Slice and serve.

*If cast-iron skillet is unavailable, apples can be sautéed in a regular skillet, then transferred to a baking dish, topped with batter and baked as directed.

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