Apple Upside Down Layer Cake with Maple Buttercream

Apple Upside Down Layer Cake with Maple Buttercream is made with three layers of cinnamon cake baked on top of fresh apples and a buttery rum-caramel. The layers are sandwiched together with real maple syrup buttercream.

a slice of cake standing on a white plate.

Why you’ll love this cake!

From the outside this looks like a typical layer cake, but slice it open and you’ll find soft cinnamon-scented layers of apple upside down cake. The apples are baked in a buttery rum-caramel topping.

The layers are filled with buttercream flavored with real maple syrup.

As long as you work with the layers while they’re cold, putting the cake together is as easy as any other layer cake. Once the cake is assembled it should be kept at room temperature so it’s nice and soft when served.

I think this cake is something special and unexpected.  I hope you agree.


ingredients for apple maple layer cake in glass bowls on a white surface.

Ingredient Notes

  • Cake Flour – Low protein cake flour, preferably bleached, makes the softest cake layers.
  • Sour Cream – Enriches and tenderizes the cake. You can use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream.
  • Apples – Any apple will do, but a firm baking apple is best for this recipe. Granny Smith apples are widely available.
  • Maple Syrup – There is no substitute for the flavor of real maple syrup. But you can layer the cake with any flavor buttercream you’d like. Cinnamon or walnut would be good options.

How to make Apple Maple Layer Cake

See the recipe card for detailed measurements and instructions.

caramel in a pan. Caramel in cake pans. Apple in cake pans.
  • Bring the brown sugar, butter, rum, cinnamon and vanilla to a boil.
  • Divide the caramel between three cake pans.
  • Divide the sliced apples between the pans.
  • Divide the cake batter between the three pans.
  • Bake until the cake springs back when pressed in the middle.
  • Turn the cakes out while they’re still warm. Transfer any apples that stick to the pan back to the cake and spread the apples to an even layer. Chill the layers until firm.
  • Whisk the maple syrup into the buttercream.
  • Trim the crust from the top of each cake layer.
  • Flip the first two layers apple side up and spread buttercream over the apples.
  • Flip the last layer apple side down and crumb coat the cake.
  • Ice the cake with a final layer of buttercream.

Make Ahead and recipe tips

  • The cake layers can be baked and refrigerated up to a day before assembling. They can be frozen for up to a month.
  • The buttercream can be made ahead and held at room temperature for a day, refrigerated for 3-4 days or frozen for up to a month. Bring the buttercream to room temperature and rewhip before using.
  • Trimming the crust on each layer is optional but the cake looks better and holds together better without the crust.
  • Variation: Add ground walnuts to the maple buttercream filling for an Apple Walnut Maple flavor.


This cake will keep at room temperature for 3-4 days. Leftovers can be frozen. Return to room temperature before eating.

A slice of cake on a white plate.

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

a slice of cake standing on a white plate.
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4.50 from 6 reviews

Apple Upside Down Layer Cake with Maple Buttercream

Three gorgeous layers of caramelized apple cinnamon upside down cake sandwiched with luscious real maple buttercream.
Prep Time1 hour
Bake Time35 minutes
Additional Time1 hour
Total Time2 hours 35 minutes
16 servings
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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 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 24 oz apples

Cinnamon Cake Batter

  • 6 egg yolks (room temperature)
  • 8 oz sour cream (1 cup, room temp, divided in 1/2)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 9 oz cake flour (2 cups, see note)
  • 12 oz granulated sugar (1 ½ cups, divided)
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 9 oz unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 3 egg whites (room temperature)

Maple Buttercream


  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line the bottom of three 8"x3" round cake pans with parchment paper.

Cake Layers

  • Combine 1 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. Divide the warm caramel between the 3 pans. Spread the caramel in the pans, leave a 1/2" border around edges, Set aside.
  • Peel core and thinly slice 24 oz apples. Divide the apple slices between the three pans, pressing into a single layer. Set the pans aside while preparing the cake batter.
  • Combine 6 egg yolks, 1/2 of the sour cream and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract in a small bowl, set aside. Sift 9 oz cake flour, 1 cup (8 oz) of the sugar, ¾ teaspoon baking powder, ¾ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon baking soda and 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon into a mixer bowl. Mix the dry ingredients on low speed to distribute the leavening and spice.
  • With the mixer running on low speed, add 9 oz unsalted butter and the remaining sour cream and mix until it forms a thick batter. Increase the speed to medium and mix about 3 minutes until the batter lightens in texture and color. Scrape the bowl and beater. With the mixer on low, add ½ the egg yolk mixture. Mix until incorporated. Add the rest of the egg yolk mixture. Mix until incorporated.
  • In another bowl, Whip 3 egg whites to soft peaks. Add the remaining ¼ cup (2 oz) sugar and whip to full peak. Fold ½ the whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining whites. Divide the batter between the 3 pans and spread to an even layer.
  • Bake until the center of the cake springs back when lightly pressed, about 30-35 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool for 5 minutes then turn them out while still warm onto a parchment lined sheet pan. If any caramel or apples stick in the pan scrape them out with a small spatula and place back on the cake.
  • Cool, apple side up, to room temperature. Wrap and refrigerate the layers for several hours or overnight.

Maple Buttercream

  • Make 1 Recipe Italian Meringue Buttercream according the to recipe, adding the maple syrup at the end of the recipe. Store at room temperature until ready to use.


  • Divide the buttercream in ½. Reserve one ½ for icing the cake, use the remaining for filling. Remove the chilled layers from the refrigerator. Unwrap and flip the cakes, apple side down, onto the plastic wrap. Use a serrated knife to trim off the crust on the top of each cake. (see note)
  • Place 1 layer, apple side up, onto your serving platter. Place 1/2 of the filling onto the layer and spread it evenly to the edges. Place another layer, apple side up, onto the cake and spread the other 1/2 of the filling onto the apples. Flip the third layer onto the cake so the apples are facing down.
  • Crumb coat the cake and chill until set. Ice the sides and top of the cake with the remaining buttercream. Decorate as you like. Serve at 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.
Trimming the crust is optional but I think the cake looks better without the crust and holds together better without it.
Variation: I also love to add ground walnuts to the maple buttercream filling for an Apple Walnut Maple flavor.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 405kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 121mg | Sodium: 187mg | Potassium: 126mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 39g | Vitamin A: 676IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 1mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!

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    1. Yes. Try to use pears that are ripe but not very soft. Soft pears might turn to mush as they bake.

  1. I am making this cake in 2 Days for a BD party and cannot wait to taste it! Curious as to what is sprinkled on top of the cake in the video. So pretty! Thank you very much for sharing!

    1. Hi Laurie. I think you’ll love this cake. It’s sooooo good. The cake in the video is topped with white chocolate curls. I bought those at a restaurant supply store. But you can make white chocolate curls at home. Take a bar of white chocolate (like Ghiradelli if that is available in your store) and use a potato peeler to scrape curls off the sides of the bar. Just use the same motion as if you were peeling a potato.

  2. Can you please, please, please give the recipe for your Pineapple Flip? I make a pineapple upside-down cake my friends and family love and would love to make it as a layer cake for my wedding but don’t know how I can achieve that. Can you give me suggestions or share your recipe? I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

    1. Hi Elizabeth. I will share the recipe in the near future. It just takes some time to make, photo, etc. When is the wedding? Are you making your own cake? My first suggestion is; if your favorite recipe has a very, very soft cake it might not be the best for a wedding cake. How many servings will you need? Will it be multi-tier?