This caramel pecan apple spice upside down cake is the perfect combination of the best fall flavors. The perfectly spiced, moist cake is topped with pecans in a gooey caramel sauce and slices of sweet apples.
This upside down cake is the perfect dessert for autumn holidays or when you just have a craving for comforting flavors like cinnamon and cloves. With sweet apples and the caramel pecan sauce, this is a perfect sweet treat for any dessert table.
This cake is baked in a cast iron skillet and then flipped onto a serving platter once it is done. It's a great way to impress guests and will have your home smelling amazing while it bakes!
For more apple recipes, try: Roasted Apple and Chicken Panini, Apple Cheddar Crostini or Sour Cream Apple Squares.
Why You Will Love This
- It is perfectly spiced. The cake batter has both cinnamon and ground cloves which creates a delicious and cozy flavor that pairs so well with the pecans and apples.
- It is easy. This cake is impressive with its delicious caramel pecan and apple top, but it is easy to make. You can put this cake together in about 10 minutes and have it baking in the oven while you prepare the rest of your meal.
- The apples. Crisp, sweet apples are thinly sliced and placed on top (or bottom!) of the caramel pecan sauce before the batter is added to the skillet. They bake up perfectly tender and are the best part of the cake! A great dessert to make during apple season!
Here is information about some of the ingredients needed for this caramel pecan apple spice upside down cake. For the full ingredient list, see the recipe card below.
- Butter: You will use unsalted butter for the caramel pecan sauce and softened butter in the cake batter.
- Sugar: Light or dark brown sugar is used for the caramel pecan sauce and granulated sugar is used for the cake batter.
- Buttermilk: Full fat or low fat buttermilk will work great. You will use it in both the caramel pecan sauce and the cake batter.
- Pecans: I like to buy pecan pieces for convenience but you could use whole pecans that you've coarsely chopped.
- Apple: I always use Honeycrisp apples in my baking because they are juicy and crisp and add the perfect sweetness. You could use any fresh apples that are firm, crisp and sweet apple like Cortland or Braeburn.
- Flour: I like to use cake flour because I like the light, fluffy texture it gives to the cake. You could use all-purpose flour in its place.
- Cloves: Ground cloves are used in the cake batter.
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Vanilla: I prefer to use vanilla bean paste, but vanilla extract works perfectly too.
Step by Step Instructions
Here is how to make this delicious apple spice cake.
For this recipe, you will need an 8-inch cast iron skillet and a hand mixer.
STEP 1: Preheat your oven to 325°F.
STEP 2: Combine 6 tablespoons of butter and brown sugar in your cast iron skillet and heat over medium heat until the butter is melted. Continue to heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
STEP 3: Remove the skillet from the heat and add 3 tablespoons of buttermilk, the pecans and ¼ teaspoon of the salt to the brown sugar mixture. Stir it to combine.
STEP 4: Lay apple slices in a pattern on top of the pecan mixture. Set the skillet aside while you prepare the cake batter.
STEP 5: In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.) Stir this with a whisk until it is fully combined and then set it aside.
STEP 6: In a separate medium sized bowl, combine the wet ingredients (the remaining butter and vanilla.) Using your mixer, beat on high until it is well blended.
STEP 7: Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture a little at a time, alternating with the remaining buttermilk. Starting and finishing with the flour mixture. Mix with your mixer just until dry ingredients are mixed in.
STEP 8: Pour batter on top of apple layer in the cast iron skillet. Use an offset spatula to spread the batter in an even layer.
STEP 9: Bake in the prepared oven for 45-48 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs.
STEP 10: Remove the skillet from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes.
STEP 11: Carefully place a serving platter over the skillet. Using oven mitts, invert the skillet onto the plate to release the cake. Lift the skillet off the cake and scrape anything that is remaining in the skillet onto the top of the cake.
STEP 12: Allow the cake to cool for 10 more minutes before slicing and serving.
- Take the butter out of the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to start baking to allow it to soften.
- Do not allow the cake to cool for much more than 5 minutes in the skillet. You want it to come out easily with all the caramel sauce on top.
- Be sure to use oven mitts when inverting the skillet onto the serving platter. It may be helpful to have a helping hand for this as it can get tricky!
- Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
- Replace the cinnamon and cloves with pumpkin pie spice. It will provide a very similar flavor.
Sure. Walnuts would be delicious in caramel sauce and pair well with the apples. I would use 1 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts in place of the pecans.
Yes. You could bake this in an 8-inch round or square cake pan. Make the caramel sauce in a small saucepan and pour it into a cake pan coated with cooking spray. Then follow the recipe instructions, as is. I would start checking for doneness around 40 minutes.
Yes. You could definitely peel the apple before you slice it but it isn't necessary. The apples and their peels get nice and tender while the cake is baking and you can't tell much of a difference.
Storing and Freezing
Store leftover, completely cooled cake, covered tightly with plastic wrap or in an airtight container, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Serve warmed up in the microwave.
To freeze, let the cake cool completely and wrap tightly in several layers of plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for several hours before serving. Warm in the microwave, if desired.
Other Recipes to Try
To use leftover buttermilk from this caramel pecan apple spice upside down cake, try:
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Caramel Pecan Apple Spice Upside Down Cake
- 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ⅔ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup, plus 3 tablespoons buttermilk
- 1 cup pecan pieces
- ⅜ teaspoon salt
- 1 medium apple, thinly sliced
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325° F.
- Melt 6 tablespoons butter and brown sugar in cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook until sugar is dissolved and mixture is bubbling, about 2 minutes.9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, ⅔ cup packed brown sugar
- Remove from heat and add 3 tablespoons buttermilk, pecans, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir to combine. Lay apple slices on top of mixture in a pattern. Set pan aside.1 cup, plus 3 tablespoons buttermilk, 1 cup pecan pieces, ⅜ teaspoon salt, 1 medium apple, thinly sliced
- In a medium bowl, add flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, baking soda, and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Stir with a whisk to combine. Set aside.2 cups cake flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda
- In a separate medium sized bowl, add the sugar, 4 tablespoons butter, and vanilla. Beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended.¾ cup sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture a little at a time alternating with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until almost combined. Finish mixing by folding in any remaining dry ingredients with a rubber spatula, just until dry ingredients are incorporated.
- Spread batter into prepared skillet.
- Bake in the 325° F oven for 45-48 minutes or until cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
- Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Place serving platter over the top of the skillet and, using oven mitts, carefully flip the cake over. Gently lift the skillet and allow cake to cool for 10 more minutes before slicing and serving warm.
what size pans are used for 2x or 3x recipe?
That's a great question. I have not tested doubling or tripling the recipe. If I were to do that, I would double or triple the ingredients but then divide between two or three cast iron skillets or 8-inch round or square cake pans. You could also try doubling the recipe and baking in a 9x13-inch cake pan, checking for doneness around 40 minutes. Let me know how it goes!
Brenda Schweter, CH
everyone says this is the best cake they've ever eaten.