Brown Sugar Apple Upside Down Cake with Apple Cider Caramel and Spiced Walnuts

By • September 25, 2009 • 26 Comments



Author Notes: I love upside down cakes because they are beautiful and rustic at the same time. Apple cider caramel has become a family favorite for it's delicious apple and spice flavor. This cake is an excellent time to use a silicone cake pan. When you turn the cake out, you can actually push it out with your hand to make sure you get a clean patten on the top.erinmcdowell

Food52 Review: WHO: apartmentcooker is a culinary school grad who "lives for cooking dinner and eating anything she can get her hands on."
WHAT: A gorgeous apple upside-down cake to add to your autumn dessert list.
HOW: Layer apples and batter together in a pan, bake, and then top with apple cider caramel and a spiced-walnut mixture. Dig in.
WHY WE LOVE IT: The caramel and walnuts make an already-special apple cake even more party-worthy. Think autumn, squared -- plus an outrageous-smelling kitchen, to boot.
A&M

Serves one 8" cake

Apple Cider Caramel

  • 1 quart apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. In a large pot, bring the apple cider to a boil. Reduce heat slightly, and simmer the cider until it reduces to about a cup. Do not stir the cider after this point (it may crystallize if over-agitated).
  2. Continue to reduce the cider until it begins to get thick and caramelize. When the caramel is thick and could coat a spoon, remove the pot from the heat.
  3. Stir in the butter and salt. Spread half of the caramel at the bottom of a greased 8" cake pan. Reserve the other half of the caramel.

Brown Sugar Apple Upside Down Cake

  • 2 Honeycrisp Apples, very thinly sliced (1/8" thick)
  • 5 ounces butter
  • 1 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  1. Fan the apples into the base of the prepared cake pan (with caramel in the base) into a circle, with the points of the apples going to the center. Set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping well after each addition. Add the vanilla, mix to combine.
  3. Alternately add the milk/heavy cream and the dry ingredients, mixing just to combine.
  4. Scoop the prepared batter into the pan atop the apples. Bake at 350 until baked through, about 15-25 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
  5. Heat a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the walnuts, and toast, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, and continue to cook, tossing to coat. Let cool completely before using them to garnish the finished cake. Serve the cake warm, topped with reserved apple cider caramel and the spiced walnuts.
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Tags: apple, cake, fall, family, warm

Comments (26) Questions (4)

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3 months ago Regine

Why don't you enter this recipe in the walnut contest?

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4 months ago Selina

Totally in love with this cake. Although it's all been said, I do have to agree that the bake time should be altered. I foolishly didn't read the comments before making it for my husband's Grandmother's 81st birthday (when will I ever learn?.) Since I had wanted to serve it warm, it threw off the timing of the afternoon a little bit, but when it finally cooked through, it was the stuff of brown sugar fantasies. . . Thank you!

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about 1 year ago Ghost House Kitchen

This cake was very yummy!~ I made it for my husband's birthday last year. I will try it again when apples come back to market.

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about 1 year ago cathy

I also had a problem with the time to bake....mine was done in 45 min. Also the quart of apple cider I think I should of simmered longer but it simmered down to 3/4 c. and slightly coated the spoon so I thought it was thick enough but it ran almost completely out of my 8" spring form pan! I had placed my spring form on a foil wrapped cooking sheet and the cider ran out of spring form and onto the foil and charcoaled black. Made a mess but have released from the spring form and it looks ok...so I'll see how it tastes tonight! Was wondering if a special brand of Apple cider would work better or just should have thickened and reduced less than the 3/4 c. but because the recipe said reduces to about a cup I thought it was about right :( Not so. Beware.

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over 1 year ago Cinnamin

This is gorgeous! I must try this...have never tried an apple upside down cake with cider!

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over 1 year ago softenbrownsugar

Shared this on our Facebook Page. LOVE Brown sugar recipes!
Thank you! (I also included the warning about maybe using 2 pans instead of one.) :o)

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over 1 year ago jarchitek

Definitely make this in two layers! As is, the receipe is too much for one regular 8" cake pan. I was afraid that the cider caramel would be too salty and overpowering for the cake, but it wasn't. This is a good recipe and makes an absolutely delicious cake.

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over 1 year ago Fresa

Made the cake with some modifications and it got rave reviews at Thanksgiving. Doubled the amount of apple cider caramel I made and turned the cake into a 2-layer one, with a layer of caramel and cider at the top of each layer, using the same amount of batter (one recipe total) in 2 8- inch pans. Added some butter and sugar to the nuts after toasting them so they were sort of candied. Came out great.

Stringio

10 months ago Amanda Peoples

that sounds gr8 thanks for the idea!

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over 1 year ago lauren_helms

As mentioned my previous commenters, the baking time was incredibly off - I had to bake mine for somewhere between 40-45 minutes and I have an oven thermometer so the temp is accurate. I think the 8 inch pan is too small, I agree that a springform pan seems like a better idea. I love the idea of this recipe but the instructions were pretty incomplete.

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over 1 year ago babszilla

The baking time was wrong, it was more like 40 min, and I think I will try it in a spring form pan.

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over 1 year ago bunditoast

add to question from Tinarina. When do you take it out of the pan?
Regarding nutmeats. Any nutmeat that compliments caramel works for me.

Food52

over 1 year ago Manhattan Tart

About how long does the cider caramel take to boil down to a cup, and about how much additional reduction is necessary to thicken (how much final liquid am I looking for, about 3/4 c)? How much in advance can the cake be baked, if I'm trying to front-load the work/oven time for Thanksgiving day?

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over 1 year ago tinarina

When do you take the cake out of the pan? Right when it comes out of the oven or is it better to let it cool a bit?

Stringio

over 1 year ago georgiegirl

I'm sensitive to walnuts, so don't put them in anything, except at Christmas when I make my mom's special fudge. Then I try not to eat too many pieces!! There's no reason pecans wouldn't work great in this recipe, too.

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over 1 year ago gorzd

what about pecans or another substitution for the walnuts? family member is, alas, allergic to walnuts...

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over 1 year ago kasia S.

replace the family member :P just kidding, it sounds great, I bet pecans would work too!

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over 1 year ago erinmcdowell

You can totally use pecans! I have a friend who says "walnuts taste like wall" and won't eat them, so I've done it with pecans too!

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over 1 year ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

holy cow this looks amazing!

Kay_at_lake

over 3 years ago Kayb

I've made a similar cake, but the addition of apple cider caramel kicks it up to a whole 'nother level!

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almost 4 years ago TwinKs

I have this recipe in the oven as I write, awaiting my In-Laws for their Anniversary Luncheon. It is over flowing in the pan and still quite un-cooked after 30 min. I have reviewed the recipe to check myself for mistakes and I am quite confident I did everything correctly. I am wondering if I measured the butter wrong. 5 ounces equals 10 table spoons according to my baking equivalent charts. Please advise as I would love to try this again! Caramelized cider rules!! My other suggestion is to use a larger cake pan. The 8 inch is just to small.

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over 3 years ago erinmcdowell

I'm so sorry! I'm not sure where the recipe went awry, but I'm going to re-make it and let you know what I come up with! Again, I'm sorry!

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over 4 years ago SueG

Question: the walnuts don't need an oil or something but still pick up the spices when you pan toast them? I would love to try this because it's sugar- and added oil-free.

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over 3 years ago erinmcdowell

The nuts do pick up the spice, but it's not with the same intensity of the oil included method you suggested. But it still does the trick!

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almost 5 years ago KelseyTheNaptimeChef

I think Apple Cider Caramel is the best food idea I've come across all fall - it sounds fabulous. And the cake does, too.

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almost 5 years ago erinmcdowell

and it's so easy, too! Glad you liked it!