Spiced Apple Upside Down Cake with Bourbon Caramel Glaze

Celebrate fall by baking a Spiced Apple Upside Down Cake with Bourbon Caramel Glaze! Filled with apples and bursting with cinnamon, ginger and allspice, this bourbon apple cake recipe is great for sharing and ready in less than an hour. Makes 1 apple bundt cake.

a fork taking a bite from apple upside down cake

Imagine: You’re hosting friends for a casual dinner party.

After clearing the table from the main course, you whisk away into the kitchen to smell the sweet scent of baking apples and caramel.

“What’s next?” one of your guests calls.

“It smells like fall!” another announces.

And when you bring out the straight-from-the-oven piece de resistance—this Spiced Apple Upside Down Cake with Bourbon Caramel Glaze—your guests swoon.

I think it’s something we should all do this season—host some friends we adore for dinner and treat them to a good meal… and finish said meal with this decadent, fall-flavored whammy of an upside down cake.

Why I love this recipe:

Obviously, I’m all about fall flavored baked goods, and this cake? It’s a riff off last year’s wildly popular Praline Pumpkin Upside Down Cake.

And let me tell you, if you’re an apple fan, a whiskey fan, or a baked good that smells like the season fan? Well, you’re gonna ADORE this cake.

This Spiced Apple Upside Down Cake with Bourbon Caramel Glaze is lovely and slightly boozy and moist and incredibly flavorful.

The best news? You can make it in a little more than an hour and is an excellent recipe for sharing.

Our family and friends loved this cake, and I’m excited for you to try it!

More fall baked goods to try: Creamy Cranberry Tart | Mini Apple Spice Rum Cakes | Spiced Pumpkin Sugar Cookies | Bourbon Pecan Pie | Upside Down Cranberry Cake

Love fall flavors? Check out my Fall Recipe Index for more ideas!

dusting powdered sugar on apple upside down cake

What you need to make this recipe:

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Let’s talk ingredients!

In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Unsalted butter—we’ll need enough for the glaze and the cake. I like to use unsalted butter in baked goods so I can control the salt content.
  • Dark brown sugar—this is exclusively for the glaze, and I love the deep molasses flavor it brings to the table.
  • Bourbon—we need some for both the glaze and the cake itself. Use a bourbon that tastes good, but don’t use one that’s a sipping bourbon. The bourbon flavors will shine through in the cake and glaze but the alcohol will ultimately cook out.
  • Kosher salt—I like to use a finer kosher salt in baked goods like these. You could also use a fine grain sea salt in place of it. Table salt tends to be saltier than this, so use a little less if you’re going to use that.
  • Apple—we need one for the glaze and another for the actual cake. (So you will need two apples.) Use your favorite FIRM apple, like a Granny Smith or a Honeycrisp.
  • Unsweetened applesauce—you can use homemade applesauce or your favorite kind from the store. I like the moisture this adds to the cake without needing extra oil or butter.
  • Granulated sugar—also known as white sugar, this is the sweetener of our cake.
  • Eggs—these will help bind the cake ingredients together, as well as provide a little lift as the cake bakes.
  • Pure vanilla extract—a splash of this adds lovely vanilla aroma and undertones to the cake!
  • All-purpose flour—we keep unbleached AP flour in our house, but the regular kind works here, too. I have not tried to make this cake with a gluten free flour substitute and do not recommend it.
  • Leaveners—we’re using a combination of baking powder and baking soda in this recipe for apple cake. Make sure yours are fresh.
  • Spices—we make our own apple pie spice mixture by combining ground cinnamon, ground ginger and ground allspice. If you have a pre-made mix at your house, feel free to use that instead of this mixture!
apple upside down cake on white polka dot plates with a fork

How to make this Apple Bundt Cake

Make the Bourbon Caramel Glaze

Prepare the bundt pan. Spray with nonstick cooking spray to prevent sticking, and set aside.

Melt the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat on the stovetop.

Once the butter is melted, add the brown sugar. Add a pinch of salt.

When the mixture begins to bubble, add a splash of bourbon. It will sizzle and bubble and make a lot of noise as the alcohol cooks off. Do not be surprised by this! Just stir it constantly as it does.

Remove from the heat.

Pour the glaze into the prepared bundt pan.

Arrange the apple slices on top of the glaze. You can do them in a pattern or just set them all down into the glaze itself. You might have to rearrange it when the cake comes out of the pan, and that’s OK.

Set aside.

Make the Apple Cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Melt the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl in the microwave.

Add the applesauce to the butter. Whisk vigorously until combined and smooth.

Measure in the sugar, and whisk to combine.

Next, add the eggs, vanilla and bourbon. Whisk the ingredients together until smooth.

Sift together the dry ingredients. This includes the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Whisk to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. You may do this with a rubber spatula or a hand mixer. The batter is thick, so using a hand mixer might make it easier on you.

Add the diced apples to the apple cake batter, and fold into the batter with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared topping in the bundt pan. Do this gently, so as not to disrupt the apples.

Smooth out the batter until it’s evenly distributed in the pan.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. The cake will be a dark golden brown color.

When the cake has baked through, remove from the oven, and let sit for 5 minutes.

Flip the cake. Place a heatproof cake plate on top of the bundt pan, and carefully flip the bundt pan. Let it sit for a few moments until the cake releases.

Some of the apples may have gone astray, so you can rearrange them.

Let the cake cool slightly before serving.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar, then serve and enjoy!

apple upside down cake on two white plates

Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips

Wouldn’t this cake be a lovely dessert for a fall dinner party or gathering?

Apples are so wonderful this time of year that this lends itself so various occasions and would be absolutely delightful for all of them.

Because every gathering this time of year should include a dessert that highlights some of he season’s best flavors.

Here are some thoughts for you in baking and sharing this recipe with people you love:

  • Mix the batter early. You should be able to mix the batter and make the glaze of this cake earlier than when guests arrive. Put it together, pop it into the bundt pan and keep cool in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it.
  • Make two for a crowd. Our people love this recipe so much that we’ve taken to making two. I do not suggest doubling the recipe and instead suggest to make two separate batches. Borrow a bundt pan from a friend if you don’t have two!
  • Serve with various toppings. We loved this with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, but you could also serve with a hearty scoop of ice cream or homemade whipped cream and more apple slices.
a piece of upside down cake on a white plate

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the point of an upside down cake?

It’s a fun twist on the classic Pineapple Upside Down Cake. The fun part about it is that there’s a special glaze that bakes with the cake to where when you flip the cake, it’s topped with deliciousness.

What is the best apple for apple cake?

I like to use a firmer apple for apple cakes like this one. Granny Smith Apples and Honeycrisps are two of my favorite apples for baking.

How long does homemade apple cake last?

This cake is really moist, so its shelf time is less than some other cakes. We like to store it in the fridge for 2-3 days tops.

What is apple cake made of?

This apple cake involves a homemade bourbon caramel sauce and some apple pie spice. It’s totally delightful!

upside down cake on a cake stand

Quick tips and tricks for the best Apple Cake

  • Use your favorite firm apple. I like to use a Granny Smith or a Honeycrisp for this recipe because both hold their shape when baked. I do not recommend a softer apple, like Red Delicious.
  • Make sure you spray your bundt pan well. You could also grease and flour the pan. Otherwise, the cake could get stuck, and that would be terribly sad!
  • How to store: When the cake is completely cooled, cover its plate with a glass top or plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Other fall dessert recipes to try:

Here’s how you can make this goodness in your own home:

a fork taking a bite from apple upside down cake
Yield: 1 bundt cake

Spiced Apple Upside Down Cake with Bourbon Caramel Glaze

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Cooling Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Celebrate fall flavors and cooler temperatures by baking a Spiced Apple Upside Down Cake with Bourbon Caramel Glaze! Apple-filled and bursting with cinnamon, ginger and allspice, this boozy cake is sure to be loved when served to family, friends or guests. Perfect for a dinner party, a holiday shindig or even the showstopping Thanksgiving dessert, this Spiced Apple Upside Down Cake with Bourbon Caramel Glaze is a cake the whole family can love.

Ingredients

Topping

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • A pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 apple, thinly sliced

Apple Cake

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 oz. bourbon
  • 1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 apple, diced into ½” cubes (about 1 cup)

Instructions

Make the Topping

  1. Spray a bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside.
  2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-heat on the stovetop.
  3. Melt the butter, then add the brown sugar. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt, too.
  4. When the brown sugar begins to bubble, add the bourbon.
  5. Stir constantly until the bourbon has cooked off, then remove from the heat.
  6. Pour the topping into the prepared bundt pan. Arrange the apple slices in a pattern you’d like for the top of the cake. (There does not have to be any rhyme or reason, so have fun with this!)
  7. Set aside.

Make the Apple Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large glass bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.
  3. When the butter is melted, add the applesauce to the mixture. Whisk together until smooth and combined.
  4. Pour in the sugar, and whisk until combined.
  5. Add the eggs, vanilla and bourbon, whisking until smooth.
  6. In another glass bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice.
  7. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring until smooth and combined. The batter will be thick, so use a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon to mix at this point.
  8. Toss in the ½” diced apples, and stir until mixed into the batter.
  9. When the batter is complete, pour onto the prepared topping in the bundt pan.
  10. Smooth out the batter until it's evenly distributed in the pan.
  11. Place the pan in the oven, and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. The cake will be a dark golden brown color.
  12. When the cake has baked through, remove from the oven, and let sit for 5 minutes.
  13. Place a heatproof cake plate on top of the bundt pan, and carefully flip the cake to remove it from the pan. Some of the apples may have gone astray, so you can rearrange them.
  14. Let the cake cool before serving.
  15. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, then serve and enjoy!

Notes

Adapted from my Praline Pumpkin Upside Down Cake recipe.

Please note total time does NOT include the amount of time it will take the cake to cool off.

How to store: When the cake is completely cooled, cover its plate with a glass top or plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12 servings

Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 256Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 340mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 2gSugar: 25gProtein: 3g

Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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