The thought of an upside-down cake likely conjures up images of a retro 1950s cake topped with canned pineapple rings, each studded with a bright red maraschino cherry. But did you know this vintage treat actually originated in the Middle Ages? The original upside-down cake featured seasonal fruits, such as apples and cherries. We love that idea!
How to Make Your Own Upside-Down Cake Recipe
You can use nearly any seasonal fruit—from berries to stone fruits such as peaches and plums. If your favorite fruit is out of season, use frozen fruit (no thawing necessary). Be sure to incorporate your favorite baking spices, such as cinnamon, cardamom or nutmeg.
We prefer using a cast-iron skillet, as it helps to prevent the butter from burning when caramelizing the sugar, and the handle makes for easy flipping. However, if you don’t have a skillet, a 10-inch cake pan works as well.
How to Make an Upside-Down Cake With Any Fruit
The recipe below makes one 10-inch cake.
For the Fruit Layer
- 3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2-3 cups sliced or chopped fruit
For the Cake
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup whole milk
Step 1: Preheat the oven
Heat the oven to 350° F. Done!
Step 2: Caramelize the sugar
Melt three tablespoons of butter in the cast-iron skillet over low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir to combine. Continue to cook until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture begins to bubble. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
Step 3: Arrange the fruit
Add the fruit to the skillet in a single layer, making sure to completely cover the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
Step 4: Prep the other ingredients
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, beat together the unsalted butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
Step 5: Combine the wet and dry ingredients
Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir to combine. Then stir in half the milk. Stir in the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining milk and continue stirring until all of the ingredients are just incorporated; do not overmix.
Step 6: Add it all together
Spoon the cake batter evenly over the fruit in the skillet. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Step 7: Let it cool
Set the skillet on a wire rack and let the cake cool slightly, no more than 10 minutes.
Step 8: Flip it carefully
Place a cake plate on top of the skillet and, wearing oven mitts, carefully flip the cake out onto the pan. If any fruit has stuck to the bottom of the skillet, simply scrape the pieces from the skillet bottom with a knife to loosen them and place them back on top of the cake.
Upside-down cake is best served warm with a scoop of this Test Kitchen-recommended vanilla ice cream! Your leftovers should be wrapped and stored in an airtight container for up to three days.
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