Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake

Yield: one 9-inch round cake
Recipe: 52/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 174


    This past weekend was Thanksgiving weekend! I love this time of the year simply for all the wonderful moments spent with the family with good food and the beautiful fall weather. As was inevitable, I made one (or three! recipes to come) dessert to bring along to my parents house. This dessert was an easy pick because I had too many apples that I needed to pass and more importantly, it looked delicious! Sadly, it is by making this wonderful upside down cake that I realized that my oven is probably on its way out. It only cooks from the top element, so burns the top of foods and leaves the bottom uncooked. This is why the top of the cake looks mushy. Its unappealing appearance notwithstanding, the cake was very good. Quire rich but quite good.

Ingredients for caramel apple layer:

  • 3 apples (e.g. Cortland, Granny Smith, Mutsu) peeled, cored and each cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter

Ingredients for cake:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 eggs at room temperature, separated into yolks and whites
  • 1/3 cup sour cream *
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt



  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan and place it on a baking tray.
  2. For the caramel apple layer, arrange the apple wedges tightly together in the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. Pour the water and lemon juice into a small saucepot and then add the sugar and butter. Bring this mixture to a boil without stirring and continue to boil until it is a rich caramel color, about 4-6 minutes. Make sure to occasionally brush the sides of the pot with water.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and pour the caramel over the apples, coating them as much as possible. Set aside while preparing the cake.
  5. With a hand or stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and brown sugar until the mixture is fluffy.
  6. Add the egg yolks, sour cream and vanilla extract and beat until blended.
  7. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir this mixture into the butter mixture.
  8. In another bowl and using a hand or stand mixer, whip the four egg whites until they hold a soft peak. Fold them into the cake batter in two additions.
  9. Scrape the batter over the apples and spread evenly. Bake the cake for 45-50 minutes, until a tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then run a knife around the inside edge of the cake pan, place a plate over the pan and flip the cake over, revealing the gorgeous caramel apple top.


  • I did not have sour cream on hand, nor was there any in my nearby supermarket, so I substituted the sour cream with the same amount of buttermilk. This replacement seemed to work fine.

Note from Anna:

  • When caramelizing sugar, I prefer to put the water in the pot before adding the sugar, as this facilitate the dissolution of the sugar and is less likely to cause crystallization as the mixture starts to boil.