Apple Upside Down Cake

Apple Upside Down Cake! Warm caramelized apples with a hint of rum (optional), baked on a soft cinnamon buttermilk cake.  Yummm.

a slice apple upside down cake on a marble board.

Why this is THE BEST Apple Upside Down Cake

This cake starts with a caramel topping made from brown sugar, vanilla bean, optional rum, cinnamon and butter. It’s really not possible for something that starts with those ingredients to taste bad.

The caramel is poured into a parchment lined cake pan, topped with fresh apples and then a buttermilk-cinnamon cake batter.

This recipe comes together pretty quickly but looks beautiful and tastes scrumptious. It’s perfect for dessert, brunch or maybe even a slightly decadent breakfast.


ingredients for apple upside down cake in glass bowls on a white surface.

Ingredient Notes

  • Apples – A firm apple that doesn’t fall apart when baked works best. Granny Smith is a good option that is widely available.
  • Cake flour – Low medium protein cake flour make a cake with a very tender crumb.
  • Buttermilk – Acidic buttermilk tenderizes the cake and adds a nice background tangy flavor.
  • Brown Sugar – Makes a rich and flavorful caramel topping.
  • Rum – The alcohol is optional, but, remember, alcohol enhances other flavors.

Equipment Notes

an apple peeler in a steel table with an apple half peeled.
  • Apple Peeler/Corer – This apple peeler is one of my all-time favorite kitchen tools. You can whip through a couple pounds of apples in no time. Not only are the apples peeled and cored quickly and neatly, they come off the machine perfectly spiral-cut.
  • Cake Pan – This recipe can be baked in an 8″ square or 9″ round cake pan. You could also make the cake in a 9″ cast iron skillet.

How to make Apple Upside Down Cake

See the recipe card for detailed measurements and instructions.

caramel boiling in a pot.
  • Combine the butter, rum, brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a small saucepan.
  • Heat until the butter is melted and the mixture begins to boil.
  • Pour the caramel into the prepared baking pan.
sliced apples in a square cake pan.
  • Arrange the apples on top of the caramel.
  • Set the pan aside while you make the cake batter.
Cake batter spread over apples slices in a square cake pan.
  • Spread the batter over the apples, being careful not move the apples too much.
a cake in a square cake pan.
  • Bake until the cake springs back then lightly pressed in the middle.
  • While the cake is still warm, run a small spatula or knife around the edges and flip the cake over onto the serving plate.
an apple upside down cake on a tray with a spatula spreading apples flat.
  • If any of the apples stick to the pan transfer them to the cake.
  • While the caramel is still warm, rearrange any apples that are out of place.

Pastry Chef tips for this recipe

  • Unmold the cake while it’s still warm the the apples don’t stick in the pan.
  • If a few pieces of apple or a little caramel sticks to the pan just use a small spatula to scoop up the left over bits and spread them back onto the cake. Again, this works best while the cake is still warm.


Apple upside down cake keeps very well for 3-4 days days at room temperature, but I love it best warm from the oven.

Do not refrigerate the cake. Leftovers can be frozen. Reheat previously frozen cake in a low oven to revive the texture.

a slice of apple upside down cake on a marble board.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

hero shot apple cake.
Print Recipe
4.50 from 10 reviews

Apple Upside Down Cake Recipe

Soft buttermilk cake baked on rum spiked caramel and fresh apples. Flip it over and enjoy!
Prep Time40 minutes
Bake Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
12 servings
Save Recipe


Caramel Topping

  • 1 ½ oz unsalted butter
  • ¾ oz dark rum (1 ½ tablespoons)
  • 6 oz light brown sugar (¾ cup)
  • ¼ vanilla bean (or ⅓ teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large apples

Cake Batter

  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 1 large egg yolk (room temperature)
  • 4 oz buttermilk (½ cup, room temperature)
  • 6 ¾ oz cake flour (1 ½ cups, see note)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 oz granulated sugar (¾ cup)
  • 4 oz butter (room temperature)


  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line the bottom of an 8" square or 9 round cake pan with parchment paper.

Caramel Topping

  • Combine1 ½ oz unsalted butter, ¾ oz dark rum, 6 oz light brown sugar, ¼ vanilla bean½ teaspoon ground cinnamon in a small saucepan and heat until the butter is melted and the mixture just begins to boil. Pour the warm caramel into the prepared pan and set aside while preparing the apples.
  • Peel core and thinly slice 2 large apples. Place the apple slices in overlapping rows onto the caramel. Set aside while preparing the batter


  • Combine 1 large egg, 1 large egg yolk and half of the buttermilk in a small bowl and set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, sift together6 ¾ oz cake flour, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Add 6 oz granulated sugar. Run the mixer on low speed for 30 seconds to combine the dry ingredients. Add 4 oz butter to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add the remaining buttermilk to the flour and butter mixture. Turn the mixer to medium high for 2-3 minutes to aerate the batter.
  • Add the egg mixture in two batches, scraping the bowl and mixer between additions. Spread the batter over the apples.
  • Bake until the center of the cake springs back lightly when pressed, or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
  • Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes. While the cake is still slightly warm, run a paring knife around the sides of the and and invert it onto a serving platter
  • If any caramel or apples stick in the pan scrape them out with a small spatula and place them on the cake while it’s still warm.
  • Serve warm or room temperature

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If measuring the flour by volume use the “dip & sweep” method. That is, dip the measuring cup into the flour bin, overfill it, then sweep away the excess.
This cake can also be baked in a 9″ cast iron skillet. Cook the caramel in the skillet then top with apples and cake batter. 


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 296kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 183mg | Potassium: 91mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 399IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!

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Recipe Rating


  1. The instructions for the topping don’t seem to be quite right. It says to throw all the ingredients, which includes the apples, into the saucepan and let it cook. Then it says to prepare the apples. Maybe it should say “combine everything except for the apples” instead?

    1. Thanks for the feedback. That was an old recipe that transferred from my old recipe cards and needed updating. It’s been updated.