Yield: 8″ 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 baked on top of a 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 and it’s so moist and delicious. If you’re a fan of the caramel apples that make their way into the store around this time of year, or you just went apple picking and are wondering what to make, this cake is perfect for you.

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 give you some undesirable results. This kitchen scale is super cheap and worked well for me when I was starting out! If you don’t have access to a scale, here is the best way to measure flour: fluff up the flour with a fork, then use a spoon to scoop it into your measuring cup. Use a knife to level off the top of the cup, then use as directed.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 35 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.

Salt: a tiny bit of salt helps bring the caramel together.

Apples: use your favorite baking apple here! I used one honeycrisp and one granny smith. You can also use Pink Lady, Jonathan, Jonagold, Jazz, Braeburn, or McIntosh!

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 60g sour cream with 90g whole milk.

how to make caramel apple upside down cake

Here’s a breakdown on how to make this caramel apple cake. The full recipe with instructions is at the end of the blog post.

  • Wash the apples, then thinly slice them.
  • Combine the butter, brown sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  • Immediately pour the caramel into your prepared pan, then arrange the apples over it in your preferred design.
  • Make the cake! Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs and vanilla.
  • Alternate between folding in the dry ingredients and the buttermilk.
  • Carefully spread the cake batter over the caramel apples, then bake.

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 pans. You could also bake this in one 9×13″ pan – just note that the baking time may change. Also, be super careful when flipping the pan upside down so that the cake doesn’t split!

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.

a note on oven temperature

Ovens vary and fluctuate in temperature and aren’t always at the temperature they claim to be. 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

You can find all my favorite tools and ingredients that I use on my Amazon Storefront 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

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Caramel apples baked on top a light, fluffy and buttery vanilla cake.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
Servings1 8″ cake


Caramel Apple Layer

  • 100 g unsalted butter (7 tbsp.)
  • 150 g light brown sugar (¾ c.)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 medium sized apples thinly sliced

Vanilla Cake

  • 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. Butter and line an 8" square pan with parchment paper.

Caramel Apple Layer

  • Wash, peel (optional) and thinly slice the apples.
  • In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar and salt together, stirring constantly until the mixture is cohesive. Remove from the heat and pour into a 8" square pan.
  • Arrange the sliced apples on top of the caramel.

Vanilla Cake

  • 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 small batch of the caramel to drizzle on top before serving. Slice, serve with ice cream, and enjoy!


You could also use an 8″ cake pan, 9″ square pan, or 9″ cake pan. Note that the 9″ options will result in a shorter cake, and the cake may take a little less time to bake.

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