Yield: 9″ caramel apple upside down cake // Total Time: 1 hr. 10 min. // Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links.
All the great flavors of a caramel apple placed on top of a light, buttery and moist vanilla cake.
Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake
You’ve heard of pineapple upside down cake, but have you heard of caramel apple upside down cake? It’s the same concept, just with sliced apples of course! This cake is the perfect fall cake. If you’re a fan of the caramel apples that make their way into the store around this time of year, you’ll be a fan of this cake.
Caramel apple upside down cake recipe tips
Weigh your ingredients
Weighing your ingredients is important for getting the recipe perfect and getting consistent results. Not weighing your ingredients can lead to adding too much or too little of an ingredient which can lead to the recipe not turning out properly. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend purchasing a kitchen scale. This one is super cheap and worked well for me when I was starting out!
Mix the batter carefully
It is super important to not overmix the cake batter or you end up with a tough and chewy cake rather than a light and moist cake. Be sure to only mix just until the flour is fully combined and no more.
Room temperature ingredients
It is important for the ingredients to be at room temperature so that they properly incorporate with each other. If you have ever had your batter look curdled, it is most likely due to the ingredients separating from being at different temperatures. Take out the egg, butter and sour cream at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hr 30 min. before starting the recipe OR follow these methods for room temperature ingredients FAST:
- Fast room temperature eggs. Place the egg in a bowl in the sink and continuously run hot water over it for one minute. And there you go – one room temperature egg! Alternatively (and less waste-fully) fill a bowl with warm water and let the egg sit in it for 5 minutes.
- Fast room temperature butter. Slice the butter into 1 tbsp. slices and place them flat on a plate. Microwave in 5 second intervals, until you can easily push into the butter.
- Fast room temperature buttermilk. Microwave the buttermilk in 5 second intervals until it is no longer cold (but not hot!)
Keep an eye on the cake!
Baked goods love to go from underbaked to overbaked in what seems like a split second. Start checking at the cake with a toothpick around 40 minutes. The cake is done when only a few moist crumbs stick to the toothpick.
Ingredients and substitutions
For the caramel apple layer:
Unsalted butter: makes the caramel more smooth and adds that nice, buttery flavor that caramel sauces have.
Light brown sugar: the base of the caramel.
Apples: use your favorite baking apple here! I used pink lady (since they are typically the least expensive!) but you can use fuji, gala, jonathan, granny smith, honey gold, or braeburn!
For the vanilla cake:
All purpose flour: the structure of the cake. I would not recommend using cake flour as the cake is already super fluffy and tender using the all purpose.
Baking powder: for helping the cake rise.
Salt: for balancing and bringing out the sweetness of the cake.
Unsalted butter: for tenderizing the cake and giving it that classic buttery taste. You can substitute in salted butter, just omit the extra salt from the recipe.
Granulated sugar: for sweetening the cake and keeping it moist. The sugar also helps aerate the butter to give this cake it’s rise and keep it light and fluffy. We will also sprinkle some sugar on top of the cake to compliment the slight tartness of the aprium.
Eggs: for moisture, structure, and binding the batter together.
Vanilla: I use and love this vanilla extract. We will use some vanilla in the bundt, and some in the glaze.
Buttermilk: for tenderizing the cake and adding moisture. I highly recommend using buttermilk but I know it can be hard or annoying to purchase, especially if you don’t plan on using it for anything else. It won’t be completely the same, but you can make a homemade buttermilk substitute. For this recipe, simply combine 5g of lemon juice or vinegar with 145g of whole milk and use as normal.
How to make caramel apple upside down cake
1. Make the caramel apple layer. Add the butter to a large (at least 2 cup) microwave safe measuring cup or bowl. Microwave the butter until it’s just melted, then stir in the brown sugar and microwave for 1 minute. Stir the mixture together then pour it into a 9″ cake pan. Wash, peel and slice the apples, then layer them on top of the caramel. Set aside.
2. Combine the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. Cream the butter and sugar. With a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
4. Add in the eggs and vanilla. Beat until well combined.
5. Alternate wet and dry ingredients. Add in half the flour and gently mix just until no flour streaks remain. Then, add in the buttermilk mix just until combined. Add in the remaining flour, and mix just until no flour streaks remain.
6. Bake. Pour the batter onto the apples, then smooth off the top of the batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
7. Invert the pan. Let the cake sit in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert it onto a serving platter.
8. Top with additional caramel, serve, and enjoy! For serving, I recommend making another batch of the microwaved caramel and pouring it over the cake. Slice, serve with ice cream if desired, and enjoy!
Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake Q & A
Can I double this caramel apple upside down cake?
Definitely! Simply double all of the ingredients in this crumb cake then split evenly between two 9″ cake pans.
How to store caramel apple upside down cake
Like most baked goods, this cake will taste best served on the day it is baked. However, it can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Why do you measure in grams?
My recipes are all written in grams because it is the most accurate way to bake. When you use a kitchen scale, you ensure that your baked goods turn out as close to the written recipe as possible. Plus, the cleanup is way easier when using a scale! I will provide standard cup measurements but please note that I have not tested the recipe using cup measurements and therefore can not guarantee your recipe will come out how mine did. Here is my favorite kitchen scale, and here’s an article about why I use a kitchen scale, and why you should too!
A note on oven temperature
Ovens vary and fluctuate in temperature. For example, I always have to set my oven to 330°F if I want it to bake at 350°F. If you love to bake like I do, I highly recommend getting an oven thermometer. They are super helpful for letting you know when your oven might be lying to you! I use this one.
Tools and Ingredients
9″ cake pan: I partnered with Baker’s Secret to create this delicious caramel apple upside down cake. Here is their 9″ cake pan that I used in this recipe!
Vanilla: I love using Rodelle vanilla extract. Not only is it a great quality product, but it’s on the lower end of the price that vanilla can be! This is the one I use.
Kitchen scale: This is the kitchen scale I use every time I bake, I love it!
For a full list of tools, equipment and ingredients that I use and love, you can check out this page here.
Did you make this caramel apple upside down cake?
If you made this caramel apple upside down cake I would love to see it and know your thoughts! Please leave a comment and review down below, and tag me on Instagram @freshbeanbakery. If you have any questions about the recipe I will gladly do my best to answer them in the comments below!
Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake
Caramel Apple Layer
- 70 g unsalted butter (5 tbsp.)
- 100 g light brown sugar (½ c.)
- 2 medium sized apples peeled & thinly sliced
- 190 g all purpose flour (1 ½ c.)
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 125 g unsalted butter (½ c. + 1 tbsp.) room temperature
- 170 g granulated sugar (¾ c. + 2 tbsp.)
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 150 g buttermilk (⅔ c.) room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C.
Caramel Apple Layer
- Wash, peel, and thinly slice the apples.
- In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter and brown sugar together, stirring constantly until the mixture is cohesive. Remove from the heat and pour into a 9” cake pan.
- Arrange the sliced apples on top of the caramel.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer, in a large bowl) beat together the butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in both eggs and the vanilla. Beat until well combined (~1 min.)
- Add in half of the flour mixture, and mix by hand just until the flour is incorporated. Add in all of the buttermilk and mix until combined. Add in the rest of the flour, and lightly fold the mixture together just until all of the flour is incorporated.
- Gently pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan, smoothing out the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs.
- Let the cake sit in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert it onto a serving platter. Wait for the cake to cool completely before slicing.
- (If desired, but recommended) Make another batch of the caramel to drizzle on top before serving. Slice, serve, and enjoy!