Apple Upside-Down Cake
This Apple Upside-Down Cake features a caramelized apple topping and a cinnamon vanilla cake. Easy to make and perfect for fall!
I love summer, but I have to say that I’m kind of excited that September is finally here. Not only does it mean cooler weather, but it also means apples are in season. A few weeks ago I updated and shared my pineapple upside-down cake recipe and so many of you loved it.
So today I’m sharing a fall spin on that cake with this apple upside-down cake! Not only is this cake pretty easy to make, but it’s delicious too. The topping uses brown sugar and cinnamon which pairs perfectly with the apples. The cake is also a simple vanilla cake batter infused with some ground cinnamon for extra flavor.
Another thing that I love about this cake is that it always turns out so beautiful with the sliced apple topping. I’m also sharing tons of tips in today’s post plus how to freeze this cake if you want to save it for another time!
How To Make This Cake
Just like my pineapple upside down cake, this apple upside-down cake recipe also has two components: the topping and the cake batter.
To make the topping for this cake, you’ll start by melting some butter. You can either use the microwave or the stovetop, but I prefer to just slice the butter and melt it in a glass bowl in the microwave to make things a bit easier. Next, whisk some brown sugar and ground cinnamon into the melted butter until they’re well combined.
Then, spray a 9-inch round cake pan well with nonstick cooking spray and pour the brown sugar cinnamon topping into it. If needed, you can use a spoon to spread it around.
The last step for the topping is to peel, core, and slice up 2 medium apples. You can use any kind of baking apple that you prefer, but I love to use Honeycrisp apples for this recipe. I also suggest slicing your apples into thinner slices like the picture above. Then, just arrange your apple slices on top of the mixture you spread into your cake pan earlier.
Once your topping is ready, it’s time to prepare the cake batter. To start, whisk together your dry ingredients – some all-purpose flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Set them aside and then mix up the wet ingredients.
For the wet ingredients, you’ll start by beating one stick of butter with some granulated sugar for 3 to 4 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy. This step is crucial because it incorporates more air into your batter which results in a softer, lighter cake. Trust me on this one!
Next, beat in a couple of room temperature eggs and a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. I suggest stopping to scrape down the sides of your bowl and mixing again to ensure that the wet ingredients are thoroughly combined.
The last step is to alternate mixing in your dry ingredients with some milk or buttermilk in three additions. In other words, you’ll mix in 1/3 of your dry ingredients, 1/2 of the milk, 1/3 of the dry ingredients, the last 1/2 of the milk, and then the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients.
When adding the dry ingredients and the milk, you only want to mix in each addition until just combined. This will help ensure that you don’t over mix the cake batter, which can overdevelop the gluten resulting in a dense cake. Remember, we’re going for a light and fluffy cake!
Now that the cake batter is ready, it’s time to assemble your cake. Simply pour the batter right on top of the topping you prepared in your cake pan earlier and spread it around into one even layer.
Then, just bake the cake at 350°F (177°C) for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Once the cake is done, remove it from the oven, let it cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then flip it out of your cake pan onto the wire rack so that it can cool completely.
Because of the topping on this cake, it’s pretty moist so it will only keep for about 3 days at room temperature. If you want to freeze the whole cake or individual slices, you can wrap the cooled cake or slices tightly with plastic wrap and store them in a large freezer bag or storage container. The cake or slices will freeze well for up to 3 months if stored properly.
To thaw the cake, place it in the refrigerator overnight, then set it out for a couple of hours on the counter so that it can come to room temperature.
- Feel free to use any kind of baking apples that you prefer in this cake! I use Honeycrisp apples, but some other great options are Fuji or Granny Smith apples.
- Make sure the butter, eggs, and milk are all at room temperature before getting started. This will help ensure that your cake batter mixes together correctly.
- You can use either milk or buttermilk in this cake. I prefer to use buttermilk though because it helps to keep the cake moist.
More Apple Recipes To Try
Apple Upside-Down Cake
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) unsalted butter melted
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) light brown sugar packed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 medium apples peel, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1 and 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk or buttermilk room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9-inch cake pan well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
To make the topping:
- Combine the melted butter, brown sugar, and ground cinnamon in a mixing bowl and stir until fully combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and evenly spread it on the bottom.
- Arrange the apple slices in an even layer on top and set aside.
To make the cake:
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer for 3 to 4 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one, then mix in the pure vanilla extract. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed and mix again.
- Add the dry ingredients on low speed in three additions alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix in each addition until just combined, making sure not to over mix the batter.
- Pour the batter into the cake pan on top of the sliced apples.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then flip the cake out of the pan and onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Hi Danielle, Just took the cake out of the oven…it looks and smells heavenly! It’ll look better once I turn it upside down! Just wondering….I didn’t use all of my two Granny Smith apples…..wasn’t sure if we could over lap the apple slices. Had some left….hope the cake is apple-y enough…I’ll let you know. Betty
Hi, Betty! It probably wouldn’t hurt to slightly overlap the slices of apple. As long as they’re all kind of touching the cake batter, they should all stick to the top once you flip it over.
I made your Caramel Apple Upside-down Cake!
We will have it this Saturday for our family christmas.
I’ll let you know how everyone likes it.
I wanted to send a picture of the cake, but not seeing where to attach picture.
I hope everyone enjoys the cake, Cindy! You can feel free to e-mail me a picture or send it to me on Instagram/Facebook 🙂
Hi Danielle, well I just turned the cake over and it is perfect! Followed your recipe to a T….except for not using all the apples. It still looks and smells amazing. Will serve it with vanilla ice cream tomorrow for a family dinner. ….thanks for such a beautiful recipe!
Will definitely make again.
Love the idea of serving this with vanilla ice cream! Hope you and your family enjoy the cake, Betty! 🙂
I really enjoyed the flavor of this cake but was sad the cake itself was really dry. My MIL and husband really enjoyed it and I ate it too but want my cakes more moist.
So sorry you felt that the cake was dry, Jenn. What kind of milk did you use? I find that using whole milk in things like cakes/cupcakes really helps to make them a little more moist.
I used 2 percent. It’s what I already had on hand
You need the extra day that’s in whole milk if you want a moist cake
Sorry extra fat…….^^^^
Auto correct hates me! LOL
I have reduced fat milk as well. Would you reduce the milk and add sour cream or do the full amount of milk plus sour cream? Also, I am learning that I love to bake but there is a definite science to it. I’m 52 and have just learned how to properly measure flour for crying out loud. Do you measure by weight? Loose scooping method? When I see recipes that people post I am never sure of their method and doing it differently can make all the difference, especially when it comes to cakes.
Hi, Becky! Whole milk always works best in my opinion, but I honestly think it will be okay to use a reduced fat milk and shouldn’t affect it too much. You can mix in a little sour cream, but I haven’t actually tested this yet so I’m not quite sure how it would turn out. As far as measuring my flour, I use the spoon and level method. I have a post about how I measure flour that may be helpful for you: http://www.livewellbakeoften.com/2016/06/24/how-to-measure-flour/.
This was a great recipe with the recommended amount. Using the amount recommended will give the best results!
Thank you, Melissa! Glad you liked the cake!
I have this cake in the oven right now. Had to use a 9″ square pan because someone borrowed my round pans. Smells so good and it was so easy to prep. Can’t wait.
A square pan works great too for this recipe too! Hope you enjoy the cake, Dawna.
I’m not sure how I stumbled across your website, but an very thankful to have done so! You make all of your recipes seem possible and even easy to execute! This gives me so much confidence. Made this cake recently – added some dry roasted peanuts that I crushed up myself, and served it with vanilla ice cream (like a caramel apple 🙂 ). My husband and sister in law loved it! Thank you so much for putting your amazing recipes up and for offering all of your help to those of us who aren’t professionals in the kitchen!
I’m so glad you found my site, Nicole! It really means a lot that you find my recipes approachable and that you feel confident making them. That’s my number 1 goal when it comes to every recipe I post! I’m so glad you liked the cake and that your family loved it too. The crushed peanuts sound like a wonderful idea! 🙂
Yes! Your do-able recipes in addition to my interest in watching the cooking show “Chopped” makes me feel a bit like a pro. ? Thank you so much again! Also, I made your buttermilk biscuit recipe but my biscuits were not really very big and fluffy. I don’t have a pastry cutter or food processor, but did see on Chopped that a chef used a cheese grater to grate the butter! Do you think this would work in your recipe?
Yes, absolutely! You can grate the butter into the dry ingredients and then mix it in. Biscuits can be a little tricky at first, I always suggest making sure the dough is the right thickness before you cut it and make sure not to twist the cutter because it can seal off the edges and they won’t rise quite as high. And the colder the dough before it goes into the oven, the better. Hope that helps! 🙂
What type of pan do I use for this recipe?
You’ll need a 9-inch round cake pan.
This looks delicious and would be amazing served warm with ice cream on top and a cup of tea! Could a cast iron skillet be used for the caramel making and baking?
Thank you, Sheila! I haven’t tried it in a cast iron skillet, but I think it would work.
Yummy! Just made this cake today with my daughter. Delicious. Thanks for the recipe!
So glad you enjoyed the cake!
I just made this & it was wonderful! Thanks for sharing your recipe!
So glad you liked the cake, Stacey!
I rarely rate or comment on recipes, but I gotta say… this was AMAZING. Here’s what I’d say about the recipe if I were helping Mary Berry judge the Great British Baking Show (which I am wholly unqualified to do but still): perfect crumb, dense enough to hold the apples in place yet light enough to taste delicate, perfect amount of cinnamon, neither dry nor mushy. The cake itself is not too sweet, which is good because the apple caramel topping is rich and decadent and gorgeous. The flavors and textures complement each other very well. Even though it’s simple to make, the presentation couldn’t be lovelier. And, it’s SO yummy. I think I’ve found a new seasonal baking staple.
So kind of you, Lauren, thank you! I’m glad you liked the cake!
i made a beta cake to test it as i need a cake thatl turn out right the 1st time this took longer then i thought to [prep but im useing this for a birthday cake in a week so im also tryn use salted butter Imperiail never lets me down in cases i need a substute butter. if it comes out salty il know why i cant blame any one but my self il let ya know my thoughts
If using salted butter, you may want to reduce the salt slightly to about 1/8 teaspoon in the cake.
I used Cartland apples,similar to Granny Smith, they are in season where I live. I also used my 9” spring form pan. I am just waiting for it to come out of the oven. Thanks a lot for the recipe
Hope you enjoy the cake, Donna!
I’m hoping to make this a day before christmas and have it reheated the next day. Is it best to store in a air tight container and then pop in the oven apple side up to reheat? Or does it have to be eaten straight away?
I would avoid reheating in the oven, just so you don’t dry out the cake. You could store it in an airtight container on the counter or refrigerate it and just set it out a couple hours ahead of time to come to room temperature. It should keep for a few days in the refrigerator.
Wow Wow Wow! Okay came across this recipe while craving something with apples all day. I haven’t even finished baking the cake yet. I’ll keep you posted! But I had to say that this batter is the MOST delicious batter I’ve had!
Thank you, Joy! I hope you enjoyed the cake!
It was amazing!! Making it again this week. Ran out of whole milk. Do you think I substitute and use buttermilk?
So glad you liked the cake, Joy! Yes, buttermilk would be fine to use in place of the whole milk.
I used a 9” cake pan and batter ran over
How deep was your cake pan? I haven’t had any issues with the batter running over.
I am so happy I have found your website. The Apple cake turned out exactly what I was looking for and expected to be – Perfectly moist but not overly so ; just right amount of sugar and cinnamon. Can’t fault anything. Thank you you so much. Can’t wait to try the rest of your recipies. Tanya. London, UK
So glad you liked the cake, Tanya! I’d love to hear if you try any other recipes!
I think the sugar is not implement dissolved in the topping. Will it be a problem? Pls help.
It won’t fully dissolve when you first mix up the topping, but it will as the cake bakes.
This would have been really helpful if it was noted in the recipe itself. gave me so much anxiety and pain not being able to meet your description as “melted” and “smooth.” I’m pretty sure I ended up extra burning the sugar trying to incorporate it into the butter and failed. The caramel then set too quickly in the pan and then I ended up having to heat the caramel in the cake pan again in the oven to have it melt again and spread more onto the pan. I wish you had included pictures or descriptions so I knew I wasn’t failing at it so miserably lol. My cake is now filling the house with an amazing cinnamony smells while baking in the oven. Looking forward to trying it.
Thank you for the feedback, Hazel. I’m slowly working on older recipes on my site and updating them with more step pictures. I’ll add this one to the list. As far as the butter and sugar, the butter just needs to be melted completely and the sugar well combined with it, it shouldn’t take very long. I hope the cake turned out great for you!
This is delicious! My best friend and I have made it at least half a dozen times now and it has consistently been excellent. The cake batter always feels thicker than I expect but despite my fears (which, every time, she has to talk me out of) it results in a perfectly moist cake that stands up to the apples well. I don’t review recipes usually, but this is our everyone’s-back-in-town-let’s-celebrate cake, and frankly it truly deserves that place in our lives. Thank you for this recipe!
So happy to hear that everyone loves the cake, Sara!
This cake taste amazing!! It was so moist, just enough cinnamon and the apples turned out perfect. My husband and I made it together and had fun doing so. I’m sure glad I found your website. We can’t wait to try some of your other recipes. Denise- Florida
So glad the cake turned out great for you, Denise! I’d love to hear if you try any other recipes.
Can we add a bit of apple juice to the mix? Thank you 🙂
That would be fine, but I would reduce the milk in the recipe by however much apple juice you use.
Does it matter which kind if apple one uses?
Any kind of baking apple is fine, I like Honeycrisp or Granny Smith apples.
Very good. It was dessert and leftovers became breakfast. We stored in an airtight container and held up just fine. I will overlap the apples more next time.
I’ve got a random question….has anyone ever tried this using a mixture of both green apples and green tomatoes? Similar texture in my opinion and I’m going for something a little unique. Curious to hear some thoughts 🙂
I haven’t tried it with either, but I do think green apples would be fine!
Hi there. This recipe looks amazing, I’m planning on baking it this weekend. I just wanted your advice on what cake tin is best to use. I have a PME 9″ cake tine or a 9″ springform cake tin (where the base of the tins comes out). Do you recommend using a particular tin for this?
Any kind of 9-inch pan/tin will work fine! Usually springform pans are easier to serve a cake, but since you flip this one out of the pan it’s not necessary to use a springform.
i would live to make this cake but i need it to be dairy free. do you think if i make the following changes if it will work;
non dairy margarine in place of the butter in the caramel;
Oil in place of the butter in the batter;
and Almond Milk in place of the milk.
What do you think?
Hi, Shelley. I honestly haven’t tried any of these adjustments to it’s hard to say. I think it would probably be okay though it will change the taste and texture of the cake.
So I made this caramel apple upside down cake and it turned out amazing even though I changed a couple of the ingredients. The topping instead of butter I used butter flavor Crisco. And the soften butter in the cake batter I used the butter flavored Crisco. I also add about an 1/8 tsp of nutmeg to the cake batter. Delicious recipe even with my changes. Thank you. I think next time I make this recipe I’m going to do it in a bundt cake pan. What do you think Danielle.?????
So glad you enjoyed the cake, Darlene! You could certainly make this in a bundt pan, but the cake batter may not be quite enough for a full bundt cake. You may need to double the cake batter if you want a full-sized bundt cake.
Hi! Would this work for mini apple upside downs? If not, would a square glass dish work?
Yes, you could definitely make mini apple upside down cakes, but I would probably chop the apples instead of slicing them. You can also use an 8 or 9-inch square baking pan, the baking time should be pretty similar if you do.
Made this yesterday for my dad’s birthday. It came out wonderfully! Everyone loved it. The only changes I made was that I used 2 more apples since I used Gala for the topping and reduced the sugar for the cake to half a cup.
They all loved it and asked me to make it again.
Lovely cake! But would like you to state a cake tin size suitable please. Everyone said it was sooooo good!
I used a 9-inch round cake pan. The full list of ingredients and instructions are in the recipe card towards the bottom of the post. If you’re having trouble finding it, you can click the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.