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Spiced Apple Upside-Down Cake

Infused with cinnamon and nutmeg, this Spiced Apple Upside-Down Cake features apples baked into every bite. It will quickly become a fall favorite!

A spiced apple upside down cake on a white plate

An Easy Fall Cake

Inspired by my upside-down pineapple cake, this Spiced Apple Upside-Down Cake has quickly become one of my favorite fall desserts, next to my cranberry orange upside-down cake.

Like its pineapple cousin, this apple cake is dense yet tender, with not only apple flavors but apples in every single bite. There’s the spiced apple topping but also bits of apple throughout the cake. Infused with cinnamon and nutmeg, it’s full of fall flavor!

Not only that, but I used a few “secrets” to make this the best upside-down cake you’ll ever try! First, I made sure to use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. Some will say that doesn’t make a difference but in my opinion, cake flour makes a noticeable difference.

Second, I use apple cider instead of milk to infuse every single bite of this cake with apple flavor. This cake tastes like you are taking a bite straight from the sweetest apple!

Needless to say, this fall cake didn’t sit around my house long before it was completely devoured!


Why this recipe works

  • Cake flour give the cake a dense yet tender crumb.
  • Apple cider privides crisp apple flavor.
  • The easy no-fuss method yeilds a soft, flavor cake that can’t be beat.
Apple upside down cake with a slice being taken out.

What You’ll Need

This easy apple cake is loaded with apples in the topping and the cake itself and made with pantry essentials!

For The Topping

  • Butter – I prefer to use unsalted butter. It should be cold and cut into pieces.
  • Light brown sugar – Adds a sweet, slightly rich flavor.
  • Cinnamon & nutmeg – Add a warm spice to the apple topping.
  • Apples – You’ll want tart baking apples to contrast the sweetness of the other ingredients.

For The Cake

  • Cake flour – Cake flour creates a softer texture than all-purpose flour.
  • Baking powder & baking soda – Work as the leavening agents to allow the cake to rise.
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon & nutmeg – Warm flavor is spread through every bite of this cake.
  • Unsalted butter – If you use salted butter, omit the extra salt.
  • Granulated sugar – This cake is perfectly sweet and tender.
  • Maple syrup – You can also substitute honey for a warm sweetness.
  • Vanilla extract – For flavor.
  • Eggs – Eggs should be at room temperature.
  • Apple cider – Enhances the apple flavor throughout the recipe.
  • Apples – I use Granny Smith but any tart baking apples will work.

How to Make Spiced Apple Upside Down Cake

This spiced apple cake is surprisingly easy to make! No special skills or equipment are needed.

Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare the cake pan by spraying it with non-stick spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray.

Prepare the glaze. Stir butter and brown sugar over medium heat, until creamy and bubbly. Pour evenly in the bottom of the pan.

Arrange the apple topping. Place the apple slides side by side, starting at the outside and working your way in. The slices should overlap slightly.

Apple slices in the bottom of a round cake pan

Prepare the cake batter. Whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the maple syrup and vanilla, followed by the eggs. Next, add half the flour mixture then the apple cider. Add the remaining flour mixture and stir in the chopped apples. Carefully pour over the apple topping in the pan.

Bake. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake is a rich golden brown.

Apple cake in a round pan just removed from the oven

Cool. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes then invert onto a platter. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Pro tip: Don’t overmix the cake batter. Doing so will cause the cake to be tough and possibly dense. You only need to mix until you no longer see streaks of dry flour.

Apple upside down cake with a slice being served

Tips for Success

There are just a few things to keep in mind when baking your spiced apple upside-down cake.

  • Be sure to use cake flour. Cake flour is essential for a cake’s tender crumb and my secret to making the best upside-down cake. For that reason, I don’t recommend substitute it with all-purpose flour. Cake flour can usually be found in the baking aisle at your lcoal store.
  • What are the best apples to use? My go-to apples are Granny Smith for this apple cake and other baked goods with apples. You can use any tart baking apple in this recipe.
  • Add extra flavor with apple cider. One of my other tricks to making the best apple upside down cake is to add extra apple flavor by using apple cider instead of milk. You can also use apple juice.
  • Don’t overmix the batter. While you want to gently combine after adding each ingredient, don’t go too crazy. Overmixed batter will lead to a less tender cake.
A slice of apple upside down cake on a plate

Serving Suggestions

Apple upside-down cake can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature. With the sweet but tart apple topping, this cake doesn’t need anything else to enjoy. That’s one of my favorite reasons for making upside-down cakes – they don’t require any icing, frosting, or anything else. Just slice and enjoy!

But, if you really want to indulge your sweet tooth, you can’t go wrong with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!


How to Store Leftovers

Leftover cake can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Allow it to cool to room temperature and wrap tightly with plastic wrap before moving to the fridge.

Can I Freeze Apple Upside-Down Cake?

Yes, you can freeze your apple upside-down cake, either the whole cake or as slices. Allow the cake to cool completely then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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Spiced apple upside down cake with slice being pulled away.

Spiced Apple-Upside Down Cake

Yield: 8 slices
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Infused with cinnamon and nutmeg, this Spiced Apple Upside-Down Cake features apples baked into every bite. It will quickly become a fall favorite!

Ingredients

For the topping

  • ¼ cup (56 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ½ cup (105 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 large tart baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin

For the cake

  • 1 ½ cups (195 g) cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅓ cup (75 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) maple syrup, or honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ⅓ cup (80 ml) apple cider, or apple juice
  • 1 cup (113 g) tart baking apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced

Instructions

For the topping

  1. Position the oven rack to the center and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with non-stick spray. Line the inside bottom with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit. Spray the parchment paper lightly with non-stick spray.
  2. In a medium-sized pot over medium-low heat, stir together butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cook the mixture for 3 to 4 minutes, until it becomes creamy and bubbles lightly. Remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Pour the glaze into the bottom of the cake pan. Gently tilt the pan to help the glaze spread evenly over the bottom.
  4. Arrange the apple slices in the pan by placing them side by side around the outer edge of the pan. (The slices should be touching each other with the tips pointing toward the center of the pan) Arrange more slices in the middle, slightly overlapping the apples that are already in place. Gently press the apples down into the glaze so that they touch the bottom of the pan.

For the cake

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one. Beat in the maple syrup and vanilla.
  3. Add half the flour mixture, mixing just until almost fully combined. Mix in the apple cider. Add the remaining flour mixture, mix until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl until well blended. Fold in the chopped apples. The batter will be thick.
  4. Carefully pour the batter over the apples in the cake pan, be careful not to disturb the arrangement. Use an offset spatula to spread the batter out into a smooth layer to the edge of the pan.
  5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cake is a rich golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Place a serving platter over the top of the cake pan and flip them both over to invert the cake out onto the platter. Replace any apples that may have moved or stuck to the pan.
  7. Cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.

Notes

Cake flour: Cake flour is key to the cake’s tender crumb. I don’t recommend substituting it. You can find cake flour on the baking aisle at your local market.

Apples: I used granny smith apples but any tart baking apple will work this recipe.

Apple cider: Apple cider will give the cake the best flavor. Apple juice is the next best thing if you don’t have cider. You can also use whole milk if you prefer.

Make ahead tip

  1. The baked and cooled cake will keep for up to 5 days covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator.
  2. The cake can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 535Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 102mgSodium: 220mgCarbohydrates: 79gFiber: 3gSugar: 45gProtein: 6g

The nutrition information provided is for convenience and as a courtesy only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate because nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator and input the exact ingredients you used in the recipe.

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Cheryl

Tuesday 7th of September 2021

Made this cake yesterday. Prep time was closer to 2-hours for me. Not sure what I did wrong, but even after an additional 10-minutes in the oven, the center still wasn’t done. (My oven is new and I’ve not had a problem when baking an other dish.)

Jen Sobjack

Tuesday 7th of September 2021

I suppose prep time can vary depending on the person, their experience in the kitchen, and the kitchen environment. But this is an easy recipe that shouldn't take 2 hours to prep. As far as the oven goes, new ovens are not always calibrated correctly. I always suggest using an oven thermometer to make sure the oven temperature is accurate.

Amrita More

Tuesday 10th of August 2021

Hi, What can I substitute maple syrup with?

Jen Sobjack

Wednesday 11th of August 2021

It's noted in the recipe that either maple or honey is fine to use.

Barbara

Wednesday 23rd of September 2015

I cannot wait to make this! Not much a fan of pineapple upside down cake but I LOVE apples. A square shows to the left of the butter and the cider ingredients - where the amount needed should be. I noticed that in other recipes on your site. Is that to indicate something like "to taste" or is that just a glitch on my computer?

Jen

Wednesday 23rd of September 2015

I'm not sure why it's showing up for you the way it is. There are actually ingredient amounts listed in front of each ingredient. There should be 1/3 cup apple cider and 1/3 cup softened butter in the cake. I'm wondering if you printed the recipe out, it would show the correct amounts?

Jocelyn@Brucrewlife

Monday 20th of October 2014

This cake looks divine!!! I want to dive right into that appley goodness! ;)

Jen

Monday 20th of October 2014

Thank you, Jocelyn!

Heather @ Shards of Lavender

Tuesday 23rd of September 2014

You seem to love apples just as much as I do, Jen! I love the beautiful layout of the apples in this cake and the spices and fall flavors. My family will love it!

Jen

Wednesday 24th of September 2014

I do love apples, Heather. They are my favorite thing to work with in the fall. Yes, your family will love it. You must make it for them. :-)

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