How to Make an Upside-Down Cake Recipe with Any Fruit

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Learn how to make this retro dessert with nearly any fruit thanks to this upside-down fruitcake recipe.

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. While pineapple upside-down cake is the classic iteration, you’re not definitely not limited to just pineapple.  Upside-down cakes can feature seasonal produce like peaches, rhubarb or cherries, or fruits available all year long, like apples or bananas.

How to Make Your Own Upside-Down Cake Recipe

You can use nearly any fruit—from berries to stone fruits. 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.

How to Make an Upside-Down Fruit Cake With Any Fruit

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The recipe below makes one 10-inch cake.

Ingredients

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

Tools

  • 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.
  • Make mixing a breeze with a hand mixer. This nine-speed hand mixer gives a ton of control, so you can go from creaming the butter and sugar to gently combining the milk without skipping a beat.
  • This silicone spatula is a go-to for the kitchen. It’s incredibly handy when caramelizing the sugar and transferring the cake batter from the bowl to the skillet.

Instructions

Step 1: 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 2: 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 3: Prep the other ingredients

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together the unsalted butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Step 4: 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 5: Add it all together

Spoon the cake batter evenly over the fruit in the skillet. Bake for 45-60 minutes in a 350ºF oven, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Step 6: Let it cool

Set the skillet on a wire rack and let the cake cool slightly, no more than 10 minutes.

Step 7: 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.

Upside-Down Cake Tips

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How Do You Keep Upside-Down Cake From Getting Soggy?

There are two main tips to prevent your cake from getting soggy or mushy. The main way is to make sure that your cake has cooked long enough. As noted in the method above, a toothpick poked into the cake should come out clean, without any crumbs or batter sticking, before being removed from the oven.

The second tip is to not add any additional liquid to your batter or cooked cake. That means skipping any juice, syrups or liqueur. By the way, make sure you avoid these common cake mistakes.

How Do You Know When Upside-Down Cake Is Done?

You can tell your upside-down cake is done when the sides of the cake are golden brown, the center of the cake doesn’t jiggle and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Here’s how to tell when other types of cake are done.

How Do You Flip an Upside-Down Cake?

The key to flipping over an upside-down cake cleanly is to do it while the cake is still warm. If left to cool for too long, the caramel layer will start to solidify and stick to the pan.

For the actual flip, it is easiest to put a cake stand or plate on top of the skillet and flip the whole thing over. Check out these great baking tips from Mary Berry.

How Long Does Upside-Down Cake Last?

If you have any leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container for up to three days.

Next, learn how to make a crisp with any fruit.

Get Inspired with These Upside-Down Cake Recipes

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Susan Bronson
Susan Bronson is a writer and editor based in Northern Wisconsin.