Apple Upside Down Cake

December 23, 2019

Apple Upside Down Cake – a delicious old fashioned apple dessert with sweet cinnamon and caramel-like flavors. It’s a simple yet seriously satisfying cake topped with fresh apples and no frosting is needed.

Slice of apple upside down cake on a white dessert plate.

Apple Upside Down Cake

I actually meant to share this back before thanksgiving but I had too many fall recipes to share that I couldn’t fit everything in. But the great thing about this delicious apple upside down cake recipe is that it’s the perfect dessert to serve any day of the year because good apples are pretty easy to find. Apples and bananas are the two fruits you can usually rely on year round.

In this cake you’ll get two layers of decadence – that buttery, brown sugar and cinnamon coated apple layer which rest upon the second layer of a flavorful, moist, buttermilk cake.

This is one of those easy to prepare cakes, no special skills needed or fancy tools. Just back to basics baking.

My favorite part (other than its irresistible flavor of course) is that there’s no lengthy periods of waiting for the cake to cool all the way through, then frosting it. You just need to wait the 15 minutes to remove it from the pan (so it doesn’t crack or break) and you can serve it warm with rich vanilla ice cream. Talk about delicious!

Next time around I’m thinking about dicing up the apples small and making into cupcakes, let me know how it goes if you beat me to it.

Steps showing how to make apple upside down cake toppings

Ingredients in Apple Upside Down Cake

  • Brown sugar and granulated sugar – brown sugar is used in the topping and granulated sugar is used in the cake.
  • Unsalted butter – if you don’t have unsalted butter you can use salted butter in this recipe, just omit the salt.
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg – another delicious option would be to just use apple pie spice.
  • Salt – this will keep the cake from tasting flat, don’t forget it.
  • Golden delicious apples – I like to use golden delicious apples because they are one of the softer apples and they’ll bake through by the time the cake is done. If you were to use something like granny smith you’d end up with crispy apples at the end of baking.
  • Lemon juice – this brightens up the flavor of the apples while also reduces browning as the sit.
  • All-purpose flour – a crucial ingredient to build up the structure of the cake. No special flour needed here, just the standard all-purpose.
  • Baking powder – don’t leave this out or cake will be flat.
  • Eggs – these help bind all the ingredients together, as well as assist the cake in rising.
  • Vanilla – I just use 1 tsp but you can double it up for stronger flavor if you’d like. A vanilla bean will work too.
  • Buttermilk – I’ve actually made this recipe a few times and milk works well too.

Image showing steps how to make apple upside down cake batter.

How to Make Apple Upside Down Cake

  1. Preheat oven and prepare baking dish: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 by 9-inch square dish with non-stick cooking spray (a 9-inch round by 2-inch high will work too).
  2. Make the brown sugar topping, spread in pan: In a medium mixing bowl stir together brown sugar, melted butter, cinnamon nutmeg and salt. Spread into greased baking dish.
  3. Add lemon coated apples to pan: Toss apples with lemon juice (I just did this on the cutting board I cut them on). Align apples in rows over brown sugar layer. Set aside.
  4. Whisk dry ingredients: In a medium mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
  5. Whip butter and sugar: In a mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer (or in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment), cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  6. Blend in eggs and vanilla: Mix in eggs one at a time, scrape down bowl, then blend in vanilla.
  7. Mix in flour alternating with additions of buttermilk: Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter sugar mixture and mix until combined. Add in 1/2 of the buttermilk and mix. Mix in another 1/3 flour mixture, then remaining 1/2 buttermilk. Finish by mixing in last 1/3 of the flour mixture. Scape down bowl and fold batter to ensure ingredients are evenly incorporated.
  8. Top apples with batter: Spread batter over apple layer in baking dish.
  9. Bake until set: Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 – 45 minutes.
  10. Cool then invert upside down: Let cool 15 minutes on a wire rack.Run knife around edges of cake to ensure it’s loosened then invert onto a platter. Cut into slices and serve warm with vanilla ice cream if desired.

Whole apple upside down cake on a white serving plater.

How to Store It

If you have leftover cake then store it in the fridge. Then bring to room temperature before serving.

Can I Use Another Type of Fruit?

This cake should also work well with fresh cubed pineapple, blueberries or sliced peaches.

Apple upside down cake with rows of apple slices shown on top.

More Cake Recipes You’ll Love!

Apple Upside Down Cake

5 from 2 votes

A delicious old fashioned apple dessert with sweet cinnamon and caramel-like flavors. It's a simple yet seriously satisfying cake topped with fresh apples and no frosting is needed.

Servings: 9
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

Topping

  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (56g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 medium golden delicious apples*, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2-inch thick wedges
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups (212g) all-purpose flour (scoop and level to measure)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk or milk, at room temperature

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 by 9-inch square dish well with non-stick cooking spray.

  2. For the topping: In a medium mixing bowl stir together brown sugar, melted butter, cinnamon nutmeg and salt. Spread evenly into greased baking dish.

  3. Toss apples with lemon juice (I just do this on the cutting board I cut them on). Align apples in rows over brown sugar layer. Set aside.

  4. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.

  5. In a mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer (or in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment) cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time, scrape down bowl, then blend in vanilla.

  6. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter sugar mixture and mix until combined. Add in 1/2 of the buttermilk and mix. Mix in another 1/3 flour mixture, then remaining 1/2 buttermilk. Finish by mixing in last 1/3 of the flour mixture. Scape down bowl and fold batter to ensure ingredients are evenly incorporated.

  7. Spread batter over apple layer in baking dish. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 - 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes on a wire rack.

  8. Run knife around edges of cake to ensure it's loosened then invert onto a platter. Cut into slices and serve warm with vanilla ice cream if desired.

Recipe Notes

  • *Gala apples would be another good option if the store doesn't have golden delicious apples stocked.
  • **An electric hand mixer works great too for this recipe too. Just be sure to whip butter and sugar until pale and fluffy which takes about twice as long with a hand mixer.
Nutrition Facts
Apple Upside Down Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 401 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Cholesterol 89mg30%
Sodium 142mg6%
Potassium 199mg6%
Carbohydrates 58g19%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 38g42%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 588IU12%
Vitamin C 2mg2%
Calcium 81mg8%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Upside Down Cake
Author: Jaclyn