Apple-Molasses Upside-Down Cake
['5 tablespoons unsalted butter', '1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour', '1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt', '1 teaspoon ground cinnamon', '3/4 teaspoons baking soda', '1/2 teaspoons baking powder', '3/4 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses', '1 large egg', '2 teaspoons grated peeled ginger', '1/2 cup sugar, divided', '1/3 cup sour cream', '1/4 cup whole milk', '3-4 Honeycrisp or Pink Lady apples', '(about 2 pounds)', 'peeled']
Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°F. Melt butter in a 10" (as measured across the bottom) cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet; set aside.
Whisk flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Whisk molasses, egg, ginger, and 1/4 cup sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in sour cream, then milk. Gradually whisk in dry ingredients, then 3 tablespoons melted butter from skillet. Set aside.
Place 1 apple on a work surface stem up. Cut a large piece of apple from 1 side, leaving core behind. Rotate apple and repeat twice for a total of 3 large pieces (a triangular core will remain). Repeat with remaining apples.
Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar to butter in skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until sugar begins to caramelize, 2-3 minutes. Add apples; stir to coat. Cook apples rounded sides down for 3 minutes, then turn over and cook flat sides down until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes longer. Space apples evenly in skillet flat side down and pour cake batter over.
Transfer skillet to oven. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 30-40 minutes.
Let cake cool in skillet for 10 minutes, then carefully invert onto a plate. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.
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