Brown Butter Upside Down Apple Cake with Sticky Honey Caramel
& thoughts on getting your work stolen
Hi! Welcome to “good mood food” from Kale Me Maybe’s Carina Wolff. If you’ve made it here and aren’t yet a subscriber, come join! You can expect recipes, musings, and faves in your inbox every Wednesday! Paid subscribers get even more! Learn more about my paid membership here. You can also try a week for free!
As some of you may have seen on my Instagram stories yesterday, I ran into a situation this week where I found an account of someone who was using some of my recipes and passing them off as her own.
This wasn’t a case where someone just had a similar recipe or idea — she had three recipes (that I know of, at least), that were essentially a direct rip of mine. She used the same ingredients and an almost identical amount of each ingredient, so it was quite obvious she had seen mine. I also happen to know that each of these recipes was something I came up with on my own and did not use anything else as a reference. She also follows me, so that was even more confirmation.
When I shared this in my stories yesterday, a lot of people were quick to say, “expose her!” Most people told me to message her (which I did, although I have not received a response yet). Some people said to let it go. It was a tough decision, but ultimately I decided to say something because it was so blatantly obvious. I believe I was kind and gracious, but to be honest, I don’t expect much to come of it, although it will be great if I end up being pleasantly surprised!
Now, there are a lot of layers here. I don’t want to publicly drag her because that’s not my thing. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt first. Perhaps she thought because she changed an ingredient amount and changed a step, that it was her own now. Technically, from a legal standpoint, that may be true. Recipes are hard to copyright, and I actually think that’s fair, as we don’t want one person to own a food. But I think we all know that if you cook a recipe out of a cookbook and make a tweak to your liking, you didn’t create the recipe. You just modified it. And it’s really common practice (or at the very least, a courteous thing to do), to mention what recipe you started with if you’re making minor modifications (and her’s were very minor, if not negligible). If she was innocent in thinking this was acceptable, I want to give her the chance to remedy it first.
The other layer is that it can be very tricky with recipes. Certain foods have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years, and it’s not like we’re the first people in the world to ever make them. Recipes get circulated on the internet all the time and get cut loose from their original creators, especially when they go viral, which a couple of my recipes had. And sometimes we see an idea and don’t even remember that we saw it, but have a craving for it later and make it. I get it. I’m forgiving, and I’m sure I’ve been in a position in my time as a creator where I lost the thread of another original recipe as well.
But it is very disheartening to see what you know to be your work passed off as someone else’s. I’m sure any creator of any art form can agree. Of course, no one lives in a bubble, and we all get inspiration from everything that came before us. And food is meant to be universal and shared. However, I got a lot of messages from other creators, in the food space and beyond, who have expressed a similar issue. So many people have had their work directly copied and watched the other person’s version go viral on social media, and that’s never a good feeling. So I felt I had to speak up, for myself and for everyone else whose work has been taken from them.
Thank you to everyone who reached out and sent kind messages of support and advice! I luv u!!
THINGS I’M LOVING!
I’ve mentioned loving Diaspora spices before, but I wanted to specifically call out their Single-Origin Makhir Ginger Powder because I used it in this week’s cake recipe! All of Diaspora’s spices are INCREDIBLE (so fresh, so flavorful), and this ginger is no exception. It’s so aromatic and pungent, and it blows my mind that a ground spice can be this good. The company itself is also amazing — they single-source their spices and pay their farmers fair wages!
I have such a soft spot for Olivia Rodrigo, and I’m really digging her new album guts. Every time I listen to it, I feel like I’m the star of a 2000s teen movie. I’m honestly such a sucker for anything that takes me back to being a teenager, and considering I actually WAS a teenager in the 2000s (help), this album hits. Plus, I love the cheeky lyrics. Fave songs: bad idea, right?, vampire, ballad of a homeschooled girl, get him back!
Grant and I opened a pack of these Hu Chocolate Covered Cashews, and we ate the bag in one sitting. I could not believe how addicting they were! I don’t love snacking on plain nuts but cover them in some dark chocolate, and I am THERE. Very minimal ingredients in these (just a lil’ coconut sugar, coconut butter, and vanilla bean), making them a great, wholesome treat!
This week is Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year), so I figured it was time to bust out a dessert recipe to celebrate the holiday. Apples and honey are typically eaten on the Rosh Hashana as a symbol of the sweet new year ahead, so obviously I had to make a dessert with the classic pairing, and I’ve been seeing so many upside-down cakes on my feed that I knew it was my time.
This is a very simple and straightforward upside-down cake that uses brown butter in the batter for a deeper, nuttier flavor. The top is a sticky honey caramel that melds into the apples. The cake itself is also lightly spiced with cinnamon and ginger, which gives it a super cozy feel.
You don’t have to celebrate Rosh Hashana to make this cake, but if you do celebrate, Shanah Tova!
Brown Butter Upside Down Apple Cake with Sticky Honey Caramel
Ingredients (makes 1 cake)
Honey Caramel Apple Layer
2 firm apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch wedges (I used Pink Lady, you can use Honey Crisp, Fuji, etc.)
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
⅓ cup milk (I used oat)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Start by browing your butter for the cake batter. Add 1 stick of butter to a small saucepan on medium heat, and cook until the butter turns brown and the milk solids begin to separate, stirring frequently. Remove from heat immediately, and transfer to a bowl to cool.
2. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, and spray with oil or grease generously. Lay the apples down in a spiral.
3. Prepare the honey caramel sauce by melting the 6 tbsp butter in a small saucepan. Turn the heat to high, and add the honey and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 3 minutes until frothy and caramelized. Immediately pour the caramel mixture over the apples, covering everything evenly.
4. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.
5. In a separate medium bowl, mix together cooled brown butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and milk.
6. Mic your wet mixture into your flour mixture until evenly combined. Spread the batter evenly over the apples.
7. Transfer to the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Let cool for 10 minutes, and then loosen edges with a paring knife. Place a plate on top of the cake, and invert them both at the same time. Serve warm or at room temperature! Optional: dust with powdered sugar.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT!
Well… I’m not sure if many of you missed it! If you received an extra recipe last week, it’s because I accidentally sent out the paid edition of my post to everyone! Whoops! But, think of it as a sneak peek of what you get with the paid tier of my newsletter. And for all my paid people, I’ll work on getting you extra content this month to make up for it! Anyway! I put a lot of work into this recipe because it was really more of a guide. There is a full recipe, but I also included a ton of customizable substitutes depending on what ingredients you have at home or prefer. Check it out — it is behind a paywall now if you want access, but it’s worth it!!
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