This Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake is the perfect dessert for fall. The homemade spice cake has a gooey caramel pecan and apple layer baked on the bottom. Take it to a whole new level with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and caramel drizzles.
Why You will Love This Easy Fall Cake
I absolutely love baking with apples once fall arrives. There is something so comforting and delicious about the smell of an apple dessert baking in the oven.
This apple upside down cake is one of our favorite cakes. We took a classic upside down pineapple cake and gave it a much needed fall update by using apples and pecans. I’m pretty sure it is the best apple cake ever!
The gooey caramel pecan topping will have you coming back for another slice in a hurry. In fact, you may never want to make another type of cake again.
Plus, you don’t need any special equipment or baking skills to make this fancy looking cake. Once you pour it into the pan, there is no need to do anything else. Once it bakes, flip it over, and let the caramelized goodness decorate the top.
If you are looking for the perfect recipe to share at Thanksgiving dinner, you need to save this one. This easy-to-make apple upside down cake recipe is sure to impress all your friends and family.
Main Ingredients Needed
This apple cake does not require any strange or expensive ingredients. Most of these are basic pantry items.
- Butter – We prefer to use unsalted butter to add a rich flavor. It also gives the cake a soft, tender texture. If you use salted butter, reduce the amount of salt by half.
- Sugar – A mixture of brown and granulated sugar sweetens the cake batter and more brown sugar creates the caramel topping.
- Eggs – Binds the ingredients together.
- Apple Cider – Make sure you buy cider, not vinegar! Reducing the cider also adds more flavor to the cake.
- Vanilla Extract & Salt – Adds flavor and balances the flavor.
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda – This combination provides the lift and rise as the cake bakes.
- Apple Pie Spice – Adds a delicious fall flavor to the spice cake.
- Flour – Provides structure to the cake. Read our tutorial on how to measure flour, so you do not add extra flour.
- Buttermilk – Adds a delicious tang, helps the cake rise, and also gives it a fine, soft crumb texture.
- Heavy Whipping Cream – Combines with the butter and brown sugar to create a delicious and gooey caramel sauce.
- Apples – You can either buy a bag of apple rings, or you can slice apples and cut out the centers with something small and round. I used an icing tip to do this.
- Pecans – For best results use finely diced pecans or pecan chips.
How to make an Apple Upside Down Cake
This apple cinnamon upside down cake recipe is so easy to make. There is no need to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen over complicated recipes! Just follow our simple instructions and enjoy this delicious cake tonight.
Step One: Caramel Topping
- Heat the butter, cream, and sugar in a small saucepan over low-medium heat until it is melted and dissolved.
- Spray your baking pan very well with nonstick spray, so all the caramel cake goodness comes off the bottom.
- Pour the melted butter mixture in the bottom and press the apple rings into the caramel.
- Sprinkle chopped pecan around the apples and in the centers.
Step Two: Spice Cake
- Beat butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until creamy.
- Add the eggs, vanilla, and reduced apple cider and mix again.
- Stir in the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk.
Step Three: Bake
- Spoon the cake batter on top of the apples gently.
- Bake for about 45 minutes.
- Once the cake has baked, let it cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes.
- Place a sheet pan on top of the cake and very carefully flip it over.
- Let the pan rest for a few minutes, so all the caramel and nuts fall out onto the cake.
Recipe Tips & Tricks
- There is no need for frosting on this apple cake because the caramel nut topping garnishes the top of the cake.
- Make sure to melt the brown sugar and butter completely before stirring in the heavy cream. This will ensure you don’t have a grainy texture in your topping.
- If you make this cake ahead of time, it may look dried out. To make it look gooey and pretty again, brush a little bit of caramel ice cream topping or cinnamon syrup over the apples.
- Warm each slice up in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds before serving.
- Serve slices of warm apple cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and caramel drizzles. It is also delicious with swirls of homemade whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
How to Store
Store the leftover cake in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Let the cake come to room temperature before serving or heat slices up in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best apples to use in this cake?
You want to use a firmer apple, so that they holds their shape as they bake in the caramel. We like using Gala and Honeycrisp apples in our apple desserts. Other good ones are Fuji, Pink Lady, or Braeburn. If you like tart apples, try Granny Smith apples instead.
Do you need to peel the apples?
That’s totally up to you. I usually leave the peels on for this cake.
Can you use a different fruit?
This cake would taste great with pineapple, peaches, or bananas. Make sure to drain and pat the pineapples and peaches with a paper towel before placing them on the caramel topping.
Can I make this with a box cake mix?
Yes, you can. Make the caramel apple layer, then pour the prepared cake mix on top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs on it.
Other Apple Desserts
- Apple Bread Pudding
- Apple Crisp Cheesecake
- Apple Snickerdoodle Cake
- Apple Snickers Salad
- Apple Cinnamon Rolls
- Caramel Apple Bar
- Apple Slab Pie
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For the Topping
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup pecan chips
- 12 apple rings (3-4 apples)
For the Cake
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon apple pie spice
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick spray.
- Pour the apple cider into a small saucepan. Simmer over low-medium heat until reduced to 3/4 cup. Let cool before using.
- Place the butter, brown sugar, and whipping cream in a small saucepan. Heat on medium heat until melted and dissolved. Stir everything together and pour in the prepared baking pan.
- Cut apples into slices and remove cores. Press apple rings into the caramel mixture.
- Sprinkle the pecans around the apples and in the centers.
- Beat the butter and sugars in a large bowl until creamy. Add the eggs, vanilla, and apple cider and beat again.
- Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and apple pie spice. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture with the buttermilk.
- Gently spoon the cake batter on top of everything. Bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove and the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then place another large sheet pan on top of the cake and flip it out gently. Let the pan rest there for a minute so that all the caramel drips out. Remove and cool slightly.
- Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and caramel topping, if desired. Store covered at room temperature for 1-2 days or cover and refrigerate for 4-5 days.
*Brush the top of the apples with a little bit of caramel ice cream topping if you make this cake the day before. This just makes the apples look gooey and pretty.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 278Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 58mgSodium: 169mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 3gSugar: 24gProtein: 3g
Nutrition facts are an estimate and are not guaranteed to be accurate. If you need special diet advice, please see a registered dietician.
*The post for Apple Upside Down Cake was first published October 2017. The post and photos were updated and republished October 2021.