Apple Upside Down cake–Warm caramelized apples with a hint of rum, baked on a soft cinnamon buttermilk cake. Yummm.
Fall is the cozy time of year when we put on our sweaters and retreat into the house after a summer of dining alfresco. Of course, when I’m in the house I’m usually in the kitchen.
One of my favorite things about fall is the bounty of apples in our farm share. We get apples of every color, size and flavor profile and it’s so much fun to taste them all. Besides just eating them as a snack, I bake them into pies and cakes and slice them into salads and savory dishes.
Early fall is also a very busy time of year in the wedding cake business, so I haven’t had a lot of time to bake just for fun. Despite my jam-packed schedule I decided to whip up a quick apple upside down cake last weekend while I was finishing up my wedding cake orders. This is a great recipe for those busy weeks in your life because it comes together pretty quickly but looks beautiful and tastes scrumptious. It’s perfect for dessert, brunch or maybe even a slightly decadent breakfast. We enjoyed it warm from the oven with buttermilk ice cream.
The cake starts with a caramel topping made from brown sugar, vanilla bean, 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. Since I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel for every new recipe, the cake batter for this recipe is a variation of my Blueberry Crumb Cake.
I’ve got plenty of kitchen gadgets, but this apple peeler has got to be one of my all-time favorite tools. It’s well worth the space it takes up in your cabinet. I can whip through a couple pounds of apples for a pie in no time. Not only are the apples peeled and cored quickly and neatly, they come off the machine perfectly spiral-cut. I cut the rings in half and arranged them in rows for pretty design on top of the cake. If I make this cake in a round cake pan I like to arrange the apple slices in concentric circles.
The key to getting this cake out of the pan with the topping intact is to unmold it while it’s still warm. I let it cool just 5 minutes before running a knife around the edge and flipping it onto a serving platter. 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 several days at room temperature, but I love it best warm from the oven. Try it with Buttermilk Ice Cream for a real treat.
- 3 tablespoons (1.5 oz, 42g) unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (.75 oz, 20ml) dark rum
- 3/4 cup (6 oz, 168g) light brown sugar
- 1/4 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 large tart apples, such as granny smith
- 1 large egg plus 1 yolk
- 1/2 cup (4 oz, 120ml) buttermilk
- 1.5 cups (7.5 oz, 210g) cake flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (6 oz, 168g) granulated sugar
- 8 tablespoons (4 oz, 112f) butter, softened and cut into 1" pieces
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of an 8" square or 9 round cake pan with parchment paper.
- Combine the butter, rum, brown sugar, vanilla and 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 the apples. Cut the slices in half. Place the apple slices in overlapping rows onto the caramel. Set aside while preparing the batter
- Combine the egg, yolk and 1/4 cup of the buttermilk in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add the sugar. Run the mixer on low speed for 30 seconds to combine the dry ingredients. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of 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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