This delicious Apple Upside Down Cake features a caramel apple topping, and a fluffy spiced cake.
I will show you step-by-step how to make this delicious apple cake.
Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake
This is not a hard cake to make, the only tricky part really is the caramel, making sure you don’t overcook it, or avoiding the caramel from crystallizing.
Read all the instructions and notes before you start, because they contain important information that will be so helpful to ensure you are successful. If you take the measures I am suggesting here in this recipe, your caramel won’t burn or crystallize.
All of the ingredient amounts and full instructions are on the bottom of the page.
First and foremost, it’s very important to grease and line the pan with parchment paper. If you don’t use the parchment paper, the cake is likely to stick, unless you are using a silicone pan.
We need a 9″ cake pan to make this cake, the pan should also be about 2 to 3 inches in height.
I simply cut a circle of parchment paper the size of the bottom of the pan, then greased the pan with oil spray. Place the parchment paper round on the bottom, and also make sure to grease the parchment.
Prepare the apple wedges for the cake. Peel the apple, and slice it into 1/4 inch wedges.
Add spices to the apples. I used nutmeg and cinnamon, you can also use cardamom, allspice, cloves, or any other spices you prefer.
Coat the apples with the spices, and arrange them on the bottom of the cake pan, on an even layer.
Place the cake pan, with the apples on the bottom right next to where the caramel is being made, because once the caramel is ready you have to immediately pour it in the pan, that’s because the caramel can continue to cook in the pan and even in a matter of seconds it can burn. So be ready to pour the caramel on the pan immediately as you remove it from the heat.
This is a wet caramel, so it can be finicky. But with these tips you will be successful at making the sauce.
Pour the sugar on a stainless steel saucepan. Add the water and the glucose or corn syrup, stir to combine. I like to gently stir the mixture, to avoid any sugar crystals to be stuck to the side of the pan, which can make the sauce crystallize.
The glucose will act as a stabilizer. You can use light glucose syrup, corn syrup, or invert sugar, which are all types of glucose. The addition of glucose is actually optional, but it helps the caramel not become crystallized. The corn syrup contains long chains of glucose molecules that help keep the sucrose molecules in the candy syrup from crystallizing.
Use a brush dipped in water to brush the sides of the pan to dissolve any of the sugar crystals that did stick to the sides.
Place the pan over medium high heat. Heat should actually be between medium and medium-high. If the heat is too low, the caramel will crystallize. And if it’s too hot, it can cause some of the syrup starts browning before other bits had a chance to dissolve, which will make the caramel will crystallize.
Let the mixture come to a boil, and let it cook. Don’t stir or move the pan at all. Let the mixture boil undisturbed. At first there will be a lot of bubbles moving very rapid. After a few minutes, the bubbles will subside and the syrup will look thicker.
Continue to cook the caramel until it starts browning. When you see the syrup browning in a few spots, give the pan a gentle swirl.
Once the syrup has a light golden color, immediately remove it from the heat and pour over the apples.
If you let the caramel sit in the pan, it will burn because the pan is hot and it will continue to cook the caramel, so in a mater of seconds it can become burnt.
Once you pour the caramel over the apples, set the pan aside and start making the cake batter.
The cake batter is pretty straight forward to make. Mix the flour with the baking powder, salt, and spices. I am using cinnamon and nutmeg, feel free to also add cardamom, ground cloves, or allspice if you like those spices.
Start by beating the butter, then add the sugar and beat until the mixture is fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing one egg until it’s fully incorporated before adding the next one.
Once the eggs are incorporated, add the vanilla.
Next, add a third of the flour mixture to the bowl.
Add half of the buttermilk and mix to combine.
Follow with another 1/3 of the flour mixture.
Add the remaining buttermilk, mix on low, and then add the remaining flour mixture.
You can finish mixing with a spatula, to ensure the batter doesn’t get over mixed.
Spread the mixture on the bottom of the cake pan, over the caramel apple slices.
Bake in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes. Baking time will depend on your oven. Check by inserting a toothpick, and it should come off clean. If there’s batter stuck to the toothpick, keep baking for 5 minute intervals. You can also cover the cake with aluminum foil if it’s browning on the outside but the middle isn’t baking.
Remove the cake from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes. You should be able to handle the cake pan with your hands, but it should still be warm.
Flip the cake onto a cake plate.
Let it cool down for another 20 minutes or so before slicing and serving.
Tips for making the caramel sauce:
- Make sure to use a stainless steel saucepan, with a thick bottom. Don’t use non-stick or aluminum pan. They will likely cause the caramel to crystallize.
- Also ensure the pan is clean, even a bit of grease can make the caramel crystallize. You can even wipe the pan down with vinegar before starting.
- Use pure cane sugar.
- Brush the sides of the pan with water to ensure there are no sugar crystals there.
- Cook the mixture at medium to medium-high heat. You don’t want the heat to be too low or too high, as either can make the caramel crystallize.
- Don’t touch the pan or stir the syrup as it cooks, specially not before all the sugar has melted.
- Once the syrup starts browning in a few spots, gently swirl the pan once or twice only.
- Remove the syrup from the heat when it’s a light golden brown, it shouldn’t have a deep caramel color, but it needs to be way lighter, as it will continue to cook on its own heat when sitting with the apples, and then later when baking the cake.
- Immediately as you remove the mixture from the heat pour it over the apples.
Serving and storage
Store the cake in an air tight container, or wrapped in plastic wrap, on the counter for up to 2 days. You can also store it in the fridge for up to 4 days. When serving the cake, ensure it’s room temperature. Remove it from the fridge and let it sit on the counter until it’s softened up.
I love serving this cake for brunch, or for dessert, with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
This recipe has all the Fall flavors and it’s perfect to be served at the end of the year celebrations too, such as Christmas or Thanksgiving.
You can make this same recipe with peaches, or pineapple.
I do have a recipe for a peach upside down cake, and if you have seen that recipe, you know I didn’t line the pan in that recipe with parchment on the bottom. And that’s because when using a bundt pan, the cake will be less likely to stick to the bottom. While the full round pan will be more likely to stick, specially in the very middle.
If you like this Apple Upside Down Cake recipe, check out these other recipes you might also like:
- Apple Crumb Cake
- Peach Cobbler Cake
- Blueberry Coffee Cake
- Pumpkin Bread
- Apple Dulce de Leche Cake
- Apple Blondies
I really hope you enjoyed this recipe. Let me know in the comments if you make it, or tag me on instagram, I love seeing your creations!
Apple Upside Down Cake
- 1 apple
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 cup granulated sugar 200 grams
- 1 tbsp corn syrup, or glucose read notes
- 1/4 cup water 60 ml
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 191 grams
- 1 tsp baking power
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature (170 grams)
- 1 cup granulated sugar 200 grams
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup buttermilk 78 ml
- Peel the apple, slice into 1/4″ thick slices. Sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg over the apples and stir gently to coat them in the spices. Set aside.
- Prepare the cake pan
- Use a 9” cake pan for this recipe.
- Grease the bottom and sides of the pan with oil.
- Place a circle of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan. Grease the parchment paper. It’s very important to line the pan with parchment to prevent the caramel from sticking.
- Place the apples on the bottom of the pan on an even layer, you can arrange them in a circle around the edges, and then in the center of the cake pan.
- Read the instructions before starting.
- Place the cake pan, with the apples on the bottom right next to where the caramel is being made, because once the caramel is ready you have to immediately pour it in the pan.
- Grab a stainless steel saucepan to make the caramel. Don’t use non-stick or aluminum pan.
- Make sure the pan is clean, with no food residues in its even the tiniest bit of grease can spoil the caramel.
- Add the sugar to the pan. Pour the water in. Stir gently with a spatula until a wet sand consistency, and the sugar is incorporated with the water. When stirring, avoid getting sugar crystals on the sides of the pan, which can also cause crystallization of the caramel.
- Grab a brush, dip it in water and brush the sides of the pan, to make sure there are no sugar crystals there.
- Place the pan over medium high heat.
- Let the mixture come to a boil. Do not move or stir or shake the pan. The sugar will melt, it will become a clear syrup with lots of fast moving bubbles. The next stage will be a slowing down of the bubbling, and that’s when the caramel will start to darken. Pay very close attention to it, as it can go from barely golden to burnt in just a few seconds if you aren’t careful.
- Once you see the caramel starting to brown in certain spots, you can gently swirl the pan once or twice. Keep cooking it until the syrup is a light golden color.
- Immediately remove it from the heat and pour over the apples.
- Set the pan aside for the caramel to cool slightly.
- Start making the cake batter.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg powder. Set it aside.
- Use an electric mixer to beat the butter at medium speed for 2 minutes. You can use a stand mixer or a hand mixer.
- Add the sugar and beat together with the butter for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Scrape the bowl every so often to ensure everything is getting nicely incorporated together.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated before adding the next egg.
- Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
- Pour the buttermilk in and mix.
- Add the dry ingredient mixture and mix on low to combine. You can also use the spatula instead of the mixer to fold the batter during this final stage. Avoid over mixing, to prevent the cake from turning out dry.
- Spread the batter on the bottom of the prepared cake pan, over the cooled caramel and apple mixture.
- Use a spatula to spread out the batter evenly.
- Bake the cake in pre-heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes. If the cake is browning too much towards the final 5 minutes, and the center is not yet cooked, cover it with a piece of aluminum foil.
- You will know the cake is done baking when you touch the top of the cake and doesn’t feel soft or jiggly, and your finger doesn’t sink in. Also insert a toothpick in the cake, and should come out clean, without any gooey batter attached.
- Let the cake cool down for about 15 minutes, then flip onto a plate. It’s important to remove the cake from the pan before the caramel has a chance to harden, but the cake can’t be too hot either. You should be able to hold the pan in your hands, but it should still feel warm.
- Let the cake cool down another 20 to 25 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Store the cake in an air tight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 days.
- You can also store it in the fridge, in an airtight container for up to 4 days. If storing in the fridge, let the cake come to room temperature before serving.