Apple Upside Down Cake

Upside Down Apple Cake with caramel sauce and apple wedges in a flour cornmeal batter.

Apple Upside Down Cake
Elise Bauer

Last year my father got it in his head to make an apple upside down cake.

Every fall our trees are loaded with apples and dad is always looking for excuses to bake with them.

Well, he tried three different recipes, and each one turned out with the same problem—they appeared to be cooked, had cooked the proper amount of time as called for by the recipe, the tester came out clean, but when he went to cut into the cake, the inside was gooey.

The last time this happened, dad swore like a sailor, threw the whole cake in the sink, and vowed to never attempt an apple upside down cake again. (Ever have days like that?)

Apple Upside Down Cake
Elise Bauer

I don't know what possessed him to try his hand at it again.

Perhaps the intervening year softened the pain of the memory of three failed cakes?

Or perhaps he is just easily seduced by cake recipes, and the combination of this recipe he found in an old issue of Bon Appetit and apples on sale at Whole Foods for 99 cents a pound was just too tempting to ignore.

Or perhaps it had finally dawned on him (us) that the Granny Smiths we had been using to attempt similar cakes gave off too much liquid to work properly in the recipes.

In any case, his perseverance has paid off with this cake. It's terrific! We can't wait to make it again.

For more information on which apple varieties are best for baking, check out our Guide to Apples.

Apple Upside Down Cake

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 90 mins
Total Time 105 mins
Servings 6 to 8 servings

Special equipment needed: 1-9-inch cake pan with 1 1/2-inch high sides


  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 1/4 cups white granulated sugar, divided (1/2 cup and 3/4 cup)

  • 1 1/2 pounds  Braeburn, Jonagold, or Golden Delicious apples (about 4 medium), peeled, quartered, cored, each quarter cut into 2 wedges

  • 3/4 cup flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/3 cup cornmeal

  • 1/2 cup boiling water

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/3 cup whole milk


  1. Preheat the oven and prep the cake pan:

    Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter the sides of the cake pan. Line the pan with a 10-inch round of parchment paper. The paper will come up 1/2-inch up the sides of the pan. Butter the parchment paper.

  2. Make the caramel sauce base:

    Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a non-stick skillet on medium heat. Add 1/2 cup sugar and cook until sugar dissolves and mixture turns golden brown, stirring occasionally (use a wooden spoon), about 6 minutes.

  3. Add the apple wedges and cook in the caramel sauce:

    Add apple wedges to the pan and gently stir to distribute the caramel evenly across the apples. Cover the pan and cook until apples release their juices, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until apples are tender and caramel thickens and coats the apples, stirring occasionally, about 13 minutes more.

  4. Remove apples and caramel sauce and spread evenly in the prepared cake pan
  5. Make the batter:

    Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside. Place cornmeal in a large mixing bowl. Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over the cornmeal and stir to blend.

    Add 3/4 cup sugar and 6 Tbsps (3/4 stick) butter to the cornmeal mixture. Beat until well blended. Beat in vanilla and eggs.

    Beat in the flour, salt, baking powder mixture alternating with the milk. Pour the batter over the apples in the cake pan.

  6. Bake:

    Bake at 350°F until top is golden and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

    Cool cake in the pan for 5 minutes. Then run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it from the sides of the pan. Carefully invert the cake onto a serving plate or dish, and remove the parchment paper. Cool for 15 minutes.

    Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Recipe from Bon Appetit, February 2003.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
357 Calories
13g Fat
57g Carbs
4g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 357
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 8g 39%
Cholesterol 78mg 26%
Sodium 282mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 57g 21%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 40g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 97mg 7%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 147mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.