Updated: Aug 17, 2020
I finally got my hands on apples, and I indulged my brain in quite a bit of a workout trying to figure out what I could make. I didn't want to do a winter treat like an apple pie or apple crumble because the weather here feels like a boiling pot of water. The next best thing I could come up with was an upside-down apple cake.
The upside-down apple cake is super pretty to look at, and it's quite effortless to make. It consists of three main components, and this recipe is eggless too!
The building blocks of this cake are apples, caramel, and cake, of course. The pineapple version of the upside-down cake is more popular, but apples and caramel are a match made in heaven, you can never go wrong with the two together.
This recipe isn't too tough to tackle, and if you have ever baked a cake before, you can totally make this upside-down apple cake.
What's in an upside-down apple cake?
Like I mentioned above, there are three main components to this cake — the apples, caramel, and the cake itself.
For the apples, I used regular red apples and cut them into thin slices. You can use the green granny smiths if you'd like to. I love cutting my apples into thin slices because they become softer and more delicate that way. I also don't peel mine; the apples' skin adds additional texture to the cake, which I love. But if you prefer peeling your apples, do so by all means.
Perhaps the most intimidating part of this cake is the caramel. We need a layer of caramel in an upside-down apple cake because not only does it add sweetness and a gorgeous crust on the cake, I feel that it acts as an additional layer of moisture and ensures that the apples don't dry out while baking.
To make the caramel, I use granulated sugar and room temperature butter. I cannot stress enough about how the butter needs to be at room temperature. Every minute detail matters when it comes to caramel, and if your butter is cold, your caramel could seize or crystallize. So, no matter what, ensure that your butter is at room temperature.
You also need to make sure that your pan and spatula are completely clean. Any foreign body that touches the caramel could seize it while it's being cooked.
And lastly, do not let your attention wander. Your attentiveness is the most crucial ingredient in caramel. Initially, it might seem that the sugar is taking a while to melt, and if you fall for it and get distracted, you will be engulfed in smoke and burnt smells.
The cake itself is a simple vanilla cake flavored with a little bit of cinnamon. It has no eggs, so literally, anyone can have it, except lactose intolerant or vegan.
The upside-down apple cake becomes upside down because we place the caramel on the bottom of the pan, then the apples, and then the cake batter goes on top. And when your cake is cooked through, you flip it so that the apple side faces the top. And you'll have an upside-down cake.
To ensure a foolproof and smooth removal of the cake from the mold, I like to dust my baking tray apart from greasing it. Greasing and dusting any pan with flour while baking cakes is a foolproof technique, and you will have a flawless removal every single time. It's tried and tested, and it always works.
I also like to top my cake slice with some fresh cream. You can also top it with some whipped cream or your favorite ice cream (although vanilla works best).
This recipe requires no special equipment, you can use an electric mixer if you want to incorporate more air into your batter, but it's totally optional.
For the baking tray, I use an 8-inch square tin. If you don't have one, use an 8-inch round cake tin. But I would discourage using a bigger tin as the cake is already thin. I also wouldn't recommend a smaller tin because then the layer of caramel would be too thick.
You also will need to use parchment paper for your tin as it will help smooth removal of the cake from the tin.
Now, here's everything you need to make the upside-down apple cake:
8-inch square tin
Two mixing bowls
Heavy-bottomed saucepan or frying pan
The Recipe for Upside-Down Apple Cake
Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Yields: One 8-inch square cake
100 grams (½ cup) granulated sugar
50 grams (¼ cup) room temperature butter, plus more for greasing the pan
80 grams (⅔ cup) apple slices (about two small apples)
75 grams (¼ cup) yogurt
½ teaspoon baking soda
75 grams (⅜ cup) granulated sugar
56 grams (¼ cup) neutral oil
60 grams (¼ cup) milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
94 grams (¾ cup) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
Grease an 8-inch square tin and line it with parchment paper. Then, generously dust it with flour. Remove the excess flour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
To a heavy-bottomed saucepan or frying pan on medium-high heat, add the 100 grams (½ cup) of sugar and let it start melting.
Once the sugar starts melting, stir it with a rubber spatula until it's completely dissolved and has a brown caramel color.
Lower the heat, add the room temperature butter to it and stir it actively until it's combined. Turn off the heat.
Immediately, pour the caramel evenly into the prepared tin. Lay down the apple slices on the layer of caramel.
In a mixing bowl, add the smaller part of sugar, yogurt, and baking soda. Beat everything together with a wire whisk or an electric mixer until the sugar has dissolved.
Whisk in the oil and incorporate it into the mixture. Then trail in the milk and vanilla extract and continue whisking.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon powder, and salt.
Slowly add in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and continue whisking.
Pour the cake batter into the pan with the caramel and apple slices. Even out the top with a spatula.
Bake at 180°C for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in comes out clean.
Let the cake sit out for 5-7 minutes and then run a knife along the sides to loosen the cake from the tin.
Place a larger plate or a wire rack on the cake tin and flip it over. Peel off the parchment and let the cake cool down for 20 minutes or so before serving.