Brown Butter Apple Upside Down Cake. Oh, this cake. One of my favorite dessert items I have made here so far. It is absolutely delicious, a tiny bit dense, but still soft and so deliciously flavorful. The brown butter specks are dotted throughout the batter, and the apples are tart, sweet and buttery. If you aren’t a pie person, or you just wanted something a little different for Thanksgiving (or any event through fall) this the best choice.
The Easy Steps
First, prep your ingredients for this one. I know I always say it, but it just makes your life so much easier! While this recipe is not difficult, it takes a few steps in the beginning. Step one is to precook the apples. This gets them to the PERFECT doneness, and does not make your sugar too liquid-y. You also toss them in lemon juice, not for flavor, but it acts as a natural thickener instead of using cornstarch.
Next, make the sugar topping that is the usual for an upside down cake. And finally the batter, which is crazy simple. Room temperature ingredients, and browned butter. If you worry about browning butter, check out my highlight here on Instagram. Use your smells and how it looks! It will smell butter-scotch-y. I am making up a lot of words today, but if you have questions, fire away in the comments.
Thanksgiving Cake for a Crowd
Let’s make Thanksgiving Cake a thing. I have nothing anything against pie, don’t get me wrong. But this cake is fall and Thanksgiving without worrying about a pie crust. (But I do have a whole guide written up on How To: Flaky Pie Crust!). This cake batter is gloopy. I am sticking with the made up words, let’s roll with it. Because of the gloopy batter, pouring it over the apples and sugar takes a tiny bit of patience. It is totally okay if some of the sugar comes up around the edges as you see in the photo above. The batter is thick, so when spreading it, that can happen. Just make sure the apples are covered and don’t really move.
AND FINALLY, I lost this recipe after finally loving it. It was ridiculous and hilarious, and it took making it over five times to finally get back what was originally in my mind. But I am thrilled about how it turned out! The trials and tribulations are the fun parts of holiday baking. And just look at those brown butter flavor specks.
Brown Butter Apple Upside Down Cake
- 9 inch Cake Pan should be at least 2 inches deep
- 8 tbs unsalted butter 4oz, 1 stick
- 1.5-2 lbs granny smith apples peeled & sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup + 1 tbs all purpose flour spooned & leveled
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar packed
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup sour cream room temperature
Apple Caramel Topping
- 4 tbs unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar packed
- Brown Butter & Cook Apples: Brown 8tbs of butter for the batter. In a medium skillet, cook butter on medium-low heat. Stir often until butter begins to separate & foam. The butter will start to get golden & brown. Stir until there are lots of golden flecks and it smells like butterscotch! Pour in a bowl to stop cooking. Butter should be melted, but not hot. Wipe out or clean the skillet. Next, add apple slices & cinnamon. Cook on medium heat 7-10 minutes until apples are softened but not cooked through and still have some texture. Set apples aside.
- Preheat Oven to 350°: While butter cools, preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9-inch cake pan very well with butter or non stick spray.
- Make Batter: In a bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder & salt. In the bowl of your stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer mix wet ingredients: add melted brown butter, 1/4 cup of brown sugar & 3/4 cup of white sugar. Beat on high until combined. Switch speed to low, add eggs one at a time, then sour cream & vanilla. Mix until just combined. Scrape sides & bottom. Next, add dry ingredients. Mix on low until just combined. Scrape sides and bottom.
- Make Topping: In a medium skillet, add 4tbs of butter & 3/4 cup brown sugar. Whisk often until butter and sugar are melted, combined & lighter in color. If it starts to bubble remove immediately. Pour caramel into the greased cake pan and spread evenly across. It's okay if it starts to cool a little*. Arrange apple slices with little overlap over the caramel.
- Bake Cake: Pour cake batter over top of the apples. Gently spread the batter evenly over the apples and to the edges. Try not to move the apples with your spatula. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes, until the cake pan is not too hot to touch, but still warm, before flipping. Carefully flip your cake onto a plate and let cool completely. Cut & serve with ice cream!