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Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake (Fall Favorite)

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Apples coated with brown sugar and butter and baked underneath cake batter in this apple upside down cake! The sticky caramel apple topping makes the cake taste amazing.
side view of a piece of apple upside down cake

It is Fall, and the apples are in season! Skip the pumpkin spice and make this Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake. It is the perfect dessert for a cool autumn evening.

In this classic upside-down cake, the apples are coated with a quick butter and brown sugar caramel topping and baked underneath the cake. Flip it over, and the cinnamon-spiced apples are on top, along with a sticky caramel topping.

two slices of apple cake on a plate

Find More Thanksgiving Recipes!

Upside down cakes don’t need any frosting! The cake is light and moist and bursting with flavor, and the caramelized fruit makes it taste sweet and delicious.

Looking for more Fall baking ideas? Try air fryer apple crisp, mini caramel apples, or a rustic apple galette. Or make my one of my all-time favorites – blueberry upside down cake.

🍎Ingredient Notes

For exact amounts needed see the recipe card below

Butter – Butter is included both in the cake and the topping. It helps give the cake its caramel flavor.

Brown sugar – Brown sugar is also used in both the topping and the cake. I make this cake with all brown sugar and no granulated sugar. This results in a moist and fluffy cake.

Fresh apples – Use your favorite variety for baking. A firm apple like Honeycrisp or Gala is my favorite.

Apple pie spice – If you don’t have apple pie spice, you can use a combination of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Or mix your own with this recipe for homemade apple pie spice.

In addition, the cake uses baking staples, including flour, cornstarch, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, eggs, vanilla, and milk.

labeled ingredient photo for apple upside down cake

🥣How to Make Apple Upside Down Cake

1. Make the Topping

Peel and slice the apples. Then coat a 9 x 13-inch pan with baking spray.

Combine the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan. Heat it on medium heat, stirring, until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Then heat it for one more minute. If you keep this on the stove too long, it will burn!

making the sugar topping
Heat the topping

Spread the brown sugar mixture into the prepared pan. Layer the apple slices over the top and sprinkle them with cinnamon. Then set the baking pan aside and make the cake batter.

apples arranged in baking pan
Arrange the apple slices

2. Make the Batter

Put the butter and brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat it together until light and fluffy, which takes 3-4 minutes. Then add the eggs one at a time, along with the vanilla, until everything is well mixed.

creaming the butter and brown sugar
Cream butter and sugar
adding the eggs
Add eggs and vanilla

Mix the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, apple pie spice, and salt in a medium bowl. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients alternately with the milk. Stir after each addition until everything is combined.

adding the dry ingredients
Mix dry ingredients
adding the milk
Mix the milk

3. Bake the Cake

Spread the cake batter over the apples in the baking pan. The topping on this cake can bubble up as it cooks, so I like to put a baking sheet under the cake in the oven to catch any drips.

spreading the batter in the cake pan
Cake batter on top of apple slices

Bake the cake in a preheated 350-degree F oven for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

apple upside down cake after baking
Apple upside down cake after flipped over

Once it is done, let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Then run a knife around the edges of the cake, place a serving platter on top, and flip the cake over. The cake should come out of the pan with the apples on top with a caramelized brown sugar coating.

🍴Serving Ideas

This cake is best served warm when the apples are gooey and sticky with caramel. It is delicious as is, but adding some whipped cream, caramel sauce, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream makes it even better!

💭How to Store

Leftover cake should be stored in the refrigerator, where it will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container. Warm up individual slices in the microwave for about 30 seconds when you serve them again.

apple upside down cake with apples in the background

⭐Tips for Making the Best Upside Down Apple Cake

Be sure to check out the step by step instructions

  • Use a crisp baking apple for this cake. Honeycrisp and Granny Smith are the most popular, but Cortland, Fuji, and Gala are also tasty.
  • When heating the butter and brown sugar mixture for the topping, be careful not to burn it. Stay by the stove and let it cook for only 1 minute after the sugar dissolves.
  • Grease the baking pan well, so the cake comes out easily.
  • Put a tray under the cake pan in the oven to catch drips.
  • Let the cake cool after baking, but only for 10-15 minutes before flipping it out of the pan. If you try too soon or wait too long, it is less likely to come out cleanly.

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side view of a piece of apple upside down cake
4.61 from 23 votes

Apple Upside Down Cake Recipe

Apples coated with brown sugar and butter and baked underneath cake batter in this apple upside down cake! The sticky caramel apple topping makes the cake taste amazing.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time55 mins
Servings: 15
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Ingredients
 

Topping

  • 2 medium apples
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons apple pie spice *see notes for substitution
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9×13 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Peel and thinly slice the apples.
    2 medium apples
  • Combine the butter and brown sugar (from the topping ingredients) in a saucepan. Heat it until the sugar dissolves, and then one minute more before removing it from the heat. Be careful not to heat the mixture too long, or it will burn. *see notes for a shortcut
    1/4 cup unsalted butter, 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • Spread the butter and sugar mixture in the bottom of the prepared baking pan.
  • Layer the sliced apples over the top of the sugar mixture and sprinkle them with cinnamon. Set the baking dish aside while you make the cake batter.
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy.
    1 cup unsalted butter, 2 cups brown sugar
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Then add the vanilla.
    3 large eggs, 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, apple pie spice, and salt in a separate bowl.
    2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, ¼ cup cornstarch, 4 teaspoon baking powder, 4 teaspoons apple pie spice *see notes for substitution, ½ teaspoon salt
  • Add the dry ingredients and milk to the mixing bowl, alternating the two ingredients and beating after each addition. Continue until all the ingredients have been mixed in.
    1 cup milk
  • Carefully spread the cake batter over the apples in the baking pan.
  • Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The topping can bubble out over the edges of the pan, so put a cookie sheet underneath the baking pan to reduce any mess.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the pan for around 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges, carefully invert the pan onto a serving dish, and allow the cake to cool completely before serving.

Notes

If you don’t have apple pie spice, use 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg instead.
You can save a little time and just melt the butter for the topping, mix it with the brown sugar, and spread it in the baking pan. But not heating the butter-sugar mixture in a saucepan will make the topping less gooey and caramelly.
Use a crisp baking apple for this cake. Honeycrisp and Granny Smith are the most popular, but Cortland, Fuji, and Gala are also tasty.
Grease the baking pan well, so the cake comes out easily.
Let the cake cool after baking, but only for 10-15 minutes before flipping it out of the pan. If you try too soon or wait too long, it is less likely to come out cleanly.

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 406kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 111mg | Potassium: 251mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 560IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition facts are estimates.

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slice of apple cake on a plate with cinnamon sticks
By on September 30th, 2022

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