Apple Upside-Down Cake - The Best Caramel Apple Spice Cake
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Apple Upside-Down Cake

This apple upside-down cake is the best apple spice cake ever!

It’s an apple spice cake covered in decadent brown sugar caramelized apples. Loaded with apple flavor and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar, this apple upside-down cake could quickly become a family favorite served warm on a crisp day.

Apple upside-down cake topped with ice cream

Why Apple Upside-Down Cake?

While pineapple upside-down cake is the most common upside-down cake (I even make that into pineapple upside-down cupcakes and make my pineapple waffles upside-down), pineapple isn’t the only fruit cake that works incredibly well upside-down!

When you bake apple spice cake this way, the apples become perfectly caramelized and taste like apple pie filling. The tartness of the apples balances out the sweetness of the caramel. Plus, the top of the cake ends up getting some of the apple flavor as well.

Apple upside-down cake unsliced

Which Apples to Use

For this cake, you don’t want the apples to get too mushy – they won’t look as nice on top of the cake.

I suggest using a crisp, tart apple like a Granny Smith or a Gala.

Apples arranged in a springform pan

How to Make Apple Upside-Down Cake

To make this cake, start by making the caramel topping for the apples. It’s super easy: melt some butter and mix in brown sugar, spices, and a little lemon zest.

Pour the topping into the bottom of a greased 9 1/2″ round cake pan. I like using spingform pans because it is so easy to remove the cake afterwards, but any pan of the correct size will work. If you choose to use a springform, be sure to wrap the edge of pan tightly in foil before baking to keep it from leaking.

Pouring caramel into the bottom of a springform pan
Next, thinly slice (about 24 slices per apple) your apples and arrange them over the caramel. I like to stand them up in circle, but you can experiment with different designs.

Lastly, spread the spice cake batter evenly over the apples. I use the same cake recipe as my apple cupcakes, but I double it. That recipe is moist from sour cream and has cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. The recipe uses lemon zest because lemon really enhances the flavor of apples.

Spreading cake batter over apples
The upside-down cake takes just over an hour to bake and you’ll know it’s done when a toothpick comes out clean.

Once it’s out of the oven, wait about five minutes and then flip the apple cake out onto a pan. If you wait until the cake cools before flipping, it will be very hard to flip the cake. You want to do it while the caramel hasn’t yet hardened.

Apple upside-down cake with a slice pulled out
Store the cake at room temperature for up to 4 days. To keep it fresh longer, you could refrigerate it for up to a week and be sure to let it come to room temperature before serving. Or, ideally, warm in the oven or microwave and serve with ice cream!

Variation

For a totally different look, you could try baking this cake in a bundt pan. My cranberry cake is an great example of an upside-down cake baked this way.

Cranberry cake
You might also try using half of the cake batter to make a more shallow cake. That way, you would have a great proportion of apples to cake, more like an apple tarte tatin. You would need to reduce the baking time if you use this method.

You could also bake this cake in a cupcake tin using the technique that I use for my pineapple upside-down cupcakes or in ramekins my dulce de leche flan (which interestingly is also served upside-down).

Try making this with pears instead. It works really well. (If you happen to have a lot of pears around though, you should totally try my pear cake!)

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Apple upside-down cake topped with ice cream
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Apple Upside-Down Cake

This apple upside-down cake is an apple spice cake covered in decadent brown sugar caramelized apples. It's loaded with apple flavor and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar. It's a dessert that could quickly become a family favorite, served warm on a crisp day.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword apple spice cake, apple upside-down cake, caramelized apple cake
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 16
Calories 450kcal
Author Stef

Ingredients

Caramel Apple Topping Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 pounds tart apples sliced thinly (about 24 slices per apple)

Cake Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon

Instructions

Caramel Topping Instructions

  • In a small mixing bowl, mix all ingredients except the apples until smooth.
  • Pour into the bottom of a greased 9 1/2" round cake pan or springform pan.
  • Arrange sliced apples on top of the caramel.

Cake Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice.
  • Beat butter and sugars together in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract, and lemon zest until blended.
  • Mix in flour mixture a little bit at a time until just combined.
  • Spread batter over apples.
  • Bake for one hour (up to 85 minutes) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Bake time will vary based on your oven and how moist the apples are.
  • Let the cake cool for five minutes and then carefully invert onto a plate.

Notes

Store the apple upside-down cake at room temperature for up to 4 days. To keep it fresh longer, you could refrigerate it for up to a week. Be sure to let it come to room temperature before serving. Or, ideally, warm in the oven or microwave and serve with ice cream!

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Apple Upside-Down Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 450 Calories from Fat 198
% Daily Value*
Fat 22g34%
Saturated Fat 13g65%
Cholesterol 94mg31%
Sodium 74mg3%
Potassium 217mg6%
Carbohydrates 62g21%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 41g46%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 704IU14%
Vitamin C 2mg2%
Calcium 90mg9%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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