This Brandied Apple Upside Down Cake recipe is elegant, tasty, and super easy to make. Non-alcoholic variations are also an option, see the post for more details.
Originally published November 3, 2010, Updated on 9/8/2022
Enter: The Upside Down Cake!
Upside Down Cakes taste great, look classy... and take very little effort. You may be used to them in their traditional form - as a vanilla cake with pineapple slices and cherries on top.
While Pineapple Upside Down Cake is a classic, I like to veer off from tradition and have a bit more fun with it - flavouring the cake batter, varying the fruit used, even incorporating drizzles before serving.
Then, there’s my French Martini Upside Down Cake - my only cake that has a talking pineapple and Jann Arden as part of its origin story.. Shockingly enough.
Another fun example is my Bananas Foster Upside Down Cake, which has a cinnamon rum cake base, Bananas Foster on top, and is just amazing.
The best part is that upside down cakes can look and taste impressive, without a lot of effort!
Apple Upside-Down Cake
Apple season us upon us, and I’ve recently posted a bunch of recipes for Apple Desserts - I figure it’s time to update this brandied apple cake.
It is, after all, the perfect dessert for fall and winter - my favorite season!
The aroma of this spiced caramel apple upside-down cake - even while still in the oven - evokes warm images of Thanksgiving, Christmas eve, seasonal get togethers, etc.
I like to make these around apple harvest time, as a beautiful - and tasty - way to use up that bounty.
It’s also a great addition to Thanksgiving spreads, especially here in Canada. (Thanksgiving falls in early October here, which is *peak* apple season!)
Whether you make it as part of a holiday offering, as a way to end an afternoon of apple picking, or just for the hell of it, I hope you enjoy this delicious apple upside down cake!
This is a super simple recipe, both in the use of simple ingredients, and the fact that it doesn’t take any special skills to make.
Thin apple wedges form the design on the top of the cake, so it’s a good idea to use a hearty apple that won’t break down much in cooking.
When I’m in the mood for it, I’ll use a tart apple variety for that apple topping, like Granny Smith Apples.
Usually, I go for Mutsus or Honeycrisp, though. I generally peel the apples for this recipe, so the skin colour doesn’t matter.
I started out making this original recipe with Apple Brandy as the flavour base, but I’ve also made it with other liqueurs and spirits - just pick something that works well with the apple/cinnamon profile.
Jack Daniel’s works well, as does Crown Royal - especially the apple and maple varieties.
That said, you can make this without alcohol at all - more on that in a bit.
This recipe calls for both all purpose flour (in the caramel), and cake flour, in the batter.
Cake flour makes for a slightly more tender cake, but don’t stress if you don’t have any - all purpose flour works as well!
Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
Speaking of tender cake, I do not recommend swapping out the pudding mix, as it’s a key ingredient for the texture of this cake.
Just be sure you’re using instant pudding mix, NOT a cook and serve variety.
Rounding out this recipe, you’ll need:
... no real notes for any of those ingredients, though!
Non-Alcoholic Apple Upside Down Cake
Want to skip the booze?
Use apple cider or apple juice in place of the apple brandy in both the topping and the batter.
When not using brandy, I’ll usually add ½ teaspoon of Vanilla extract to the caramel after taking it off the heat, and 1-2 teaspoon of Vanilla extract to the batter, as well.
How to make Apple Upside Down Cake
The full recipe is in the recipe card at the end of this post, this is a visual walk through of the process.
Pre heat oven to 325°F (160°F). Liberally grease a 10″ round pan with vegetable shortening or pan spray..
Cut out a 10″ round of parchment paper, using bottom of the pan as a template.
Place inside the greased cake pan, smoothing it out to cling securely to the shortening.
Make the Topping
Combine melted butter, flour, brown sugar, apple brandy, and cinnamon in a small saucepan.
Heat brown sugar mixture on medium heat, stirring until well combined. Pour into prepared cake pan, spreading evenly. Set aside.
Arrange apple slices on top of caramel mixture. I like to do concentric circles - the circular pattern shown.
Make the Batter
In a large bowl (if whisking by hand or using an electric mixer) or in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment:
Combine flour, white sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and pudding mix in a large mixing bowl.
Add eggs and water to the flour mixture, beating until smooth.
Carefully add apple brandy and melted butter to the mix, mixing on medium speed until smooth.
Note: Alternately, you can whisk together all of the wet ingredients in a medium bowl, and add it to the dry ingredients all at once. It’s all good.
I like to gently spoon bits of the batter over the apples, careful to make sure the batter isn’t making the apples slide around.
Bake and Serve!
Bake until golden and knife inserted into center of batter comes out clean and cake springs back – about 50-60 minutes.
With the hot cake still in the pan, carefully level the top by cutting off the “dome” top of the cake, over the edge of the pan.
If it looks like the sides of the cake are stuck to the pan, run a butter knife around the inside edge of the pan.
Place your serving plate upside down on the cut top of the cake, and flip it over. Gently remove the pan, peel off the parchment if it came out with the cake.
Note: Use a large plate for this - ideally with a bit of a rim/lip around it.
Leftovers can be kept covered in the fridge for around 5 days, just let it warm up to room temp before serving. Cold cake is DRY cake!
More Holiday Recipes
Looking for more inspiration for your holiday spread? Whether Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or any of the other holidays, here's a few ideas for you!
Bacon Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Chicken Based Potato Sausage Recipe - Potatiskorv
Egg Nog Sticky Buns
Gouda Mashed Potatoes
Maple Bourbon Glazed Carrots
Mushroom Brie Turnovers
Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce
Pumpkin Spice Nanaimo Bars
Savoury Mushroom Chestnut Stuffing
Southern Comfort Glazed Ham
Southern Comfort Pecan Pie
Traditional Cranberry Mousse
Traditional Pumpkin Mousse
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Brandied Apple Upside Down Cake
- ⅓ cup Butter melted
- 1 ½ teaspoon All-Purpose Flour
- ½ cup Brown Sugar
- 3 tablespoon Apple Brandy
- ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
- 2-3 Large Apples peeled & sliced
- 2 cup Cake Flour
- 1 ½ cups Granulated Sugar
- 4 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix 3 ½ oz
- 4 Large Eggs
- ½ cup Water
- ½ cup Apple Brandy
- ¾ cup Butter melted
- Preheat oven to 325°F (160°F). Liberally grease a 10″ round pan with vegetable shortening. Cut out a 10″ round of parchment paper, using bottom of pan as a template. Place inside pan, smoothing it out to cling securely to the shortening.
- Combine melted butter, flour, brown sugar, apple brandy, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Heat on low, stirring until well combined. Pour into prepared cake pan, spreading evenly.
- Arrange fruit slices on top of caramel mixture, set aside.
- Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and pudding mix in a large mixing bowl.
- Add in eggs and water, beating until smooth. Carefully add apple brandy and melted butter to the mix, mixing on medium speed until smooth.
- Gently pour batter into prepared pan.
- Bake until golden and knife inserted into center of batter comes out clean and cake springs back – about 50-60 minutes.
- With the hot cake still in the pan, carefully level the top by cutting off the “dome” over the edge of the pan
- Allow cake to cool for about 20 minutes before turning cake out directly onto serving plate.
More Cake Recipes!
Looking for more ridiculously delicious cake recipes? As the "Evil Cake Overlord", I've got you covered! (Ps: Check out my instructions for making Marshmallow Fondant, as well!)
Bundt, Sheet, & Upside Down Cakes
Bananas Foster Upside Down Cake
Brandied Apple Upside Down Cake
Deep N Delicious Cake
French Martini Bundt Cake
French Martini Upside Down Cake
Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake
Pina Colada Bundt Cake
Strawberry Mango Marble Cake