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Upside Down Apple Cake {gluten free}

Upside down apple cake is an impressive dessert that is so easy to make! A layer of melted butter and brown sugar coats the sliced apples. This caramel apple like layer is then covered with the gluten free cake batter and baked. Once the cake cooks you’ll turn the spiced apple cake out of the pan and magically have a gooey, apple and caramel topping on your gluten free apple cake. 

Upside down apple cake on a red kitchen towel with white plates and gold forks

This post is sponsored by Sprouts Farmers Market. I appreciate the opportunity to share recipes made with ingredients from brands I trust and support. All opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Sprouts Farmers Market. #sponsored

We are most familiar with pineapple upside down cake but the concept works with many fruits. Apples are a great option for an upside down cake. The bottom layer of brown sugar and butter creates a caramel like layer around the apple slices. When the cake is flipped over and the bottom becomes the top, you are gifted with a beautiful cake that needs no decorating skills and no icing. Upside down cakes are so easy and fun!

Apple season!

Apples in a pile of honeycrisp, granny smith and pink lady apples

It’s apple season and all of my ingredients were purchased at Sprouts Farmers Market for this apple spice cake with a glorious caramel apple topping. 

Honeycrisp, Pink Lady and Granny Smith apples are among my favorite fall baking apples. Sprouts has an informative post all about apples that helped me select the best apples for baking. 

I found so many varieties of apples at Sprouts. Some apples were familiar to me and others new.

Read this Apples to Apples article to learn more. Their graphic shown here is super helpful. 

Apple graphic showing different kinds of apples
Source: Sprouts Farmers Market. Click through to original article.

What is an upside down cake?

An upside down cake is a cake that is crafted in two layers– the bottom layer in the pan is usually fruit with sugar and melted butter and the second layer is the cake batter. 

The cake is baked as usual in the oven and then after baking is when the magic happens. The cake pan is turned over onto a plate or serving dish and now the bottom layer is your topping over the baked cake.

How do I arrange the fruit for an upside down cake?

Upside down cakes can be so artistic BUT you don’t need any special cake decorating skills to create a stunning cake design. 

Simply arrange the apples in a geometric design like a spiral or in concentric circles. I made this apple spice cake a few times and played around the layout of the apples. You can’t go wrong.

If carefully arranging the apples doesn’t appeal to you, no problem. Pouring the apples into the melted butter and sugar and letting the apples fall as they may makes a lovely cake too. 

What happens if the fruit stayed in the pan when I inverted the cake?

Upside down cakes are surprisingly forgiving. 

If any of the apples remain in the pan, it’s really easy to place them back onto the cake one at a time. The apples fit right back into the fruit layer.

How long should I let the cake cool before inverting my upside down cake?

There are two thoughts on the best way to ensure success with an upside down cake. 

Some recipes call for rested the cake for no more than 10 minutes then flipping it over and out of the pan.

Other recipes suggest that letting the cake cool completely is best.

I tried both methods with this apple upside down cake and found that cooling the cake completely produced the best results with the fewest amount of apples left in the pan.

Cooling completely means 4 to 6 hours at my house. You no longer want to feel any heat coming from the pan, even from the bottom of the pan. 

How do you flip a cake out of the pan?

  1. Let the cake cool completely.
  2. Place a plate over top of the cake pan.
  3. In a quick motion, flip the cake and plate over. Make sure to hold the plate firmly to the pan.
  4. Gently tap on the bottom of the cake pan. Barely wiggle the sides to encourage the cake to ease out of the pan.
  5. Replace any of the topping that might remain in the pan.
Sprouts farmers market spices cinnamon and ginger with apple basket in background and apple cake

Gluten free cakes

Baking gluten free cakes like this caramel apple cake doesn’t require many changes from traditional baking. Of course, you’ll need to make sure that all of your ingredients are gluten free. That is the first step.

We use a gluten free baking flour blend in this recipe as a substitute for traditional flour. 

Of course, if you don’t require a gluten free cake you can use regular all purpose flour in this apple cake recipe.

Baking with seasonal spices

This apple spice cake has a cinnamon and ginger spice mix. It’s a wonderful time of year to play with warm baking spices! 

Try cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and even combination spices like apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice.

Yield: 12 slices

Upside Down Apple Cake {gluten free}

Upside down apple cake on a red kitchen towel with white plates and gold forks

A layer of apples with butter and brown sugar make the best caramel apple layer for this upside down apple cake!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


For the apple layer

  • 3 apples (any baking apple such as Honeycrisp, Pink Lady or Granny Smith)
  • ¼ cup Sprouts dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Sprouts unsalted butter, melted

For the cake batter

  • 1 ½ cups Gluten free flour (cup to cup substitution that includes xanthan gum)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tsp. Sprouts organic ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Sprouts ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt
  • 6 Tbsp. Sprouts unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup Sprouts granulated white sugar
  • 2 Sprouts organic cage free eggs
  • 2 tsp. Sprouts organic vanilla extract
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup Sprouts organic sour cream


1.       Spray a 9 inch circular cake pan with baking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2.       Make the cake batter first. Mix the gluten free flour with baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Whisk gently and set

3.       Beat the 6 Tbsp. butter and granulated white sugar until light and fluffy then add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla.

4.       Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter. Stir gently. Then add all of the milk and the sour cream. Continue to stir. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until just barely incorporated.

5.       Now work on the apple layer. Pour the melted batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top.

6.       Peel, core and slice the apples into ¼ inch – ½ inch slices. Lay the apple slices on top of the butter and sugar. Top with the cake batter.

7.       Bake for 40-45 minutes.

8.       Remove from the oven and let the cake cool completely. Be patient—letting the cake cool is your best bet for getting the topping to flip out properly. Cover the cake with a cake stand or plate and then quickly flip the cake over. Gently tap on the pan and let the cake and the apples turn out onto the cake stand.


1.       Make the cake batter first then let it rest while you slice the apples so that the apples don’t discolor. You may squeeze lemon juice over the apples to reduce browning if you wish.

2.       If you don’t need a gluten free cake, use 1 ½ cups all purpose flour instead.

3.       Let the cake cool completely in the pan before turning it over onto a cake stand or other plate. If any of the apples remain in the pan, simply place them on the cake where they should be.

4.       Feel free to serve your spiced apple cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 117Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 203mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 3g

This data is provided by Nutritionix and is an estimate only.

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Looking for more apple recipes? Here you go!

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Slice of caramel apple spice cake upside down cake on white plate with golf fork

Abbe@This is How I Cook

Monday 28th of October 2019

Looks like a great tasting cake, Holly. And I like that apple chart except they are missing my fave which is the Kiku apple. So good. Just like I bet this cake is!

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