Traditional gingerbread cake is getting flipped! Apple gingerbread upside-down cake has all the classic flavors of rich molasses and spicy ginger with the perfect moist crumb topped with buttery, gooey brown sugar apples.
Best of all, there's no frosting required for this cake! Simply bake, flip and serve! With a generous scoop of whipped cream for me. For me, this is a delicious holiday cake to bake that does destroy the kitchen or my last nerve.
Calling all old-fashioned gingerbread lovers for this one! Classic gingerbread cake is rich and generous with molasses - a bit different from the gingerbread latte flavors we've come to love. It's perfect for the holiday season when you want something cozy and comforting.
I positively adore an upside down...well anything, really. This pineapple upside cake for a crowd is buttery and rich, I adore anything in a bundt pan - especially this rosemary cranberry cake - but I extra love a quick and easy monkey bread.
This combination of old-fashioned gingerbread cake with upside-down baking technique is a fusion of apple gingerbread holiday cake perfection.
What you'll need
For the most part, this bad Larry is riding on kitchen staples. Flour, sugar, vanilla, egg, butter. You'll need classic baking spices - cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and of course ginger. The old ball ingredient in the bunch is the molasses, but if you're a gingerbread lover like our household than you likely have some in your pantry.
Tip: Make sure to use unsulphered molasses. I like the 'Grandma's' brand and its sold in most grocery stores.
- walnuts (optional)
- baking soda
- spices - ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove
- hot water
- brown sugar
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make apple gingerbread upside down cake.
My favorite thing about this recipe, other than how good it tastes, is that once its in the oven you're pretty much done. There's no frosting to whip up, no fancy decorating.
All we're going to do is layer some apples, make a cake batter, bake it, and then flip it out of the pan once it cools a touch.
Prepare the apple layer in your baking dish or cast iron pan. Melt the butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar and walnuts, then layer thinly sliced apples on top. Set aside.
Combine the flour, spices, and salt and set aside. Beat the butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Incorporate the egg and vanilla, scraping down the sides and the bottom of the bowl when needed.
Add the molasses and the dry ingredient mixture. With the mixer on low, add the hot water, mixing until the batter has an even consistency
Pour the batter over the apples in the prepared pan. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 35-45 minutes until the center of the cake comes out mostly clean (a few crumbs is fine).
Tip: Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl throughout the process of making the batter so you don't end up with hidden ingredients not incorporated after you already started pouring the batter into the cake pan.
Let's talk about pans
Fun fact: I would not make this again in the same dish as shown in the photos. I chose the Le Creuset square pan for aesthetics and halfway through I remembered they're not my favorite for cake baking. But that's just my experience - if you love yours for that, go for it!
You can bake this cake in....
- 9 inch square pan - it should be 2 to 3 inches deep. Ideally, 3 inches in case the butter and brown sugar bubble up.
- 9 inch or 10 inch cast iron pan
- bundt cake pan (layer the apples along the bottom and up the sides)
Tip: The cake will rise but not a tremendous amount. If you are worred your cake pan is not deep enough, just set a sheet pan underneath it in case some of the butter/brown sugar layer bubbles up along the sides.
Tip: If the edges of the cake are starting to darken fast and the center of your cake is still jiggly, cover the edges of the cake with aluminum foil.
Serving your cake
Once the cake comes out of the oven, let cool for about 10 minutes before flipping it onto your serving platter.
This will give the caramel-y apple layer time to thicken and prevent any running from the hot butter.
Serve the apple gingerbread cake hot or room temperature. I would recommend hot with fresh whipped cream or a sizeable scoop of Baileys ice cream!
After baking, let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes before flipping onto your serving platter (or a parchment-covered plate if you want to transfer to a cake stand later.)
Be sure to run a knife along the sides of the pan first. After flipping, let the pan sit upside down for a few minutes to allow everything to release from the bottom before lifting.
You should you unsulphered sugarcane molasses for any gingerbread recipe, unless it specifically calls for blackstrap. Each contains different sugar contents so the flavors are very different. Blackstrap molasses has less sugar and a more intense and bitter flavor.
Looking for more simple cake recipes? Try these:
Apple Gingerbread Upside Down Cake
- ½ cup unsalted butter (melted)
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- 1 to 2 apples (peeled, thinly sliced)
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground clove
- ½ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
- ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup unsulphered molasses (I use the Grandma's brand)
- ¾ cup boiling water
- whipped cream or ice cream for serving (optional)
Prep the apple layer
- In a 9-inch square pan or cast iron skillet, add the melted butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar and walnuts. Layer the apple slices on top until the bottom of the pan is covered.½ cup unsalted butter, ½ cup packed light brown sugar, ¼ cup chopped walnuts, 1 to 2 apples
For the gingerbread cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.2 cups all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1½ teaspoons cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon ground clove
- In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium high speed for 1 to 2 minutes until pale and fluffy.½ cup unsalted butter, ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
- Add the egg and vanilla to the bowl. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then return to medium speed for about 30 seconds.1 large egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Add the molasses and the dry ingredients. Mix for about 30 seconds until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the hot water. Mix until the ingredients are combined and the batter consistency is even. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for about 20 to 30 seconds. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.¾ cup unsulphered molasses, ¾ cup boiling water
- Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean (a few crumbs are fine!). If the edges of your cake start to darken dramatically but the center is still wet, cover the edges with aluminum foil.
- After baking, let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a knife along the sides of the pan. Place the serving dish - or a parchment covered plate if you plan to transfer the cake before serving - on top of the cake. Flip over and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes before lifting the pan.
- Suggest to serve warm with fresh whipped cream or ice cream! If baking in advance, heat in the microwave or oven for a few minutes before serving or serve at room temperature, it's delicious either way.
- Baking Pans: This recipe can be made in a 9 inch square pan, 9 inch cast iron pan, or bundt pan (cook slightly less for the bundt pan.) The pan should be at least 2 to 3 inches deep as the butter and brown sugar can bubble up and over on a shorter dish. The cake batter will rise slightly, but not significantly.