1 1/4 cups white, granulate sugar divided (1/2 cup and 3/4 cup)
1 1/2 pounds Braeburn, Jonagold, or Golden Delicious apples (about 4 medium), peeled, quartered, cored, each quarter cut into 2 wedges [not Granny Smiths!]
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup whole milk
1-9-inch cake pan with 1 1/2-inch high sides
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter the sides of the cake pan. Line the pan with a 10-inch round of parchment paper. The paper will come up 1/2-inch up the sides of the pan. Butter the parchment paper.
Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a non-stick skillet on medium heat. Add 1/2 cup sugar and cook until sugar dissolves and mixture turns golden brown, stirring occasionally (use a wooden spoon), about 6 minutes. Add apple wedges to the pan and gently stir to distribute the caramel evenly across the apples. Cover the pan and cook until apples release their juices, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until apples are tender and caramel thickens and coats the apples, stirring occasionally, about 13 minutes more. Remove apples and caramel sauce and place in the prepared cake pan.
Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside. Place cornmeal in a large mixing bowl. Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over the cornmeal and stir to blend. Add 3/4 cup sugar and 6 Tbsps (3/4 stick) butter to the cornmeal mixture. Beat until well blended. Beat in vanilla and eggs. Beat in the flour, salt, baking powder mixture alternating with the milk. Pour the batter over the apples in the cake pan.
Bake until top is golden and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cake in the pan for 5 minutes. Then run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it from the sides of the pan. Carefully invert the cake onto a serving plate or dish, and remove the parchment paper. Cool for 15 minutes
Makes 6 to 8 servings. Serve with vanilla ice cream.