Brown Butter Upside-Down Cake with Caramelized Honey Apples

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  8 servings
Prep Time:  20 minutes Cook Time:  1 hour 10 minutes

Brown Butter Upside-Down Cake with Caramelized Honey Apples

Sweet but not too sweet, soft but not too soft, this mild cake is ready for tea or a chilled glass of almond milk any time of day.


Caramelized Honey Apples:

⅓ cup (112 grams) honey

Juice of ½ large or 1 small lemon (about 4 teaspoons)

¼ cup (52 grams) packed light brown sugar

¼ cup heavy cream

3 large tart apples (about 1½ pounds)



3 sticks (1½ cups/ 340 grams /12 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature

2¼ cups (254 grams) unbleached, all-purpose flour

1½ cups (306 grams) granulated sugar

2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder

½ teaspoon (3 grams) baking soda

½ teaspoon (3 grams) salt

½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground cinnamon

4 large eggs

1¼ cups buttermilk

1 tablespoon Applejack or Calvados


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a large (9- by 13-inch) nonstick rectangular baking dish or casserole with nonstick vegetable oil spray and set aside.
  2. Prepare the Caramelized Honey: In a large saucepan, bring the honey, lemon juice, and brown sugar to a boil over high heat; then reduce the heat and simmer over medium heat for 8 to 12 minutes, until the mixture is very thick and has reduced in volume to ⅓ cup. Standing back to avoid splattering, gradually drizzle in the cream. Remove from the heat and stir for about 1 minute, until  the sauce is smooth. Pour the thickened syrup into the cake pan and let cool.
  3. Cut the apples into ¼-inch slices and fan decoratively over the cooled syrup. They may sink down, which is fine.
  4. Prepare the cake: In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes, until the milk solids turn brown and the butter has a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely.
  5. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, cooled browned butter, buttermilk, and Applejack or Calvados until blended. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir until completely mixed.
  6. Gently pour the batter over the apples and, using an offset spatula, spread it in an even layer without moving the apples. Bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until the cake is golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool on a rack for 45 minutes.
  7. Place a plate on top of the cake and invert it onto the plate to release it (see Kitchen Tips). Remove the pan.

Kitchen Tips

  1. Nervous about turning a cake out of the pan once it’s baked? It’s not that hard. Place a cooling rack or plate on top of the cake pan, holding it firmly with one hand. Slide your hand under the bottom of the pan  (with an oven mitt if necessary) and press firmly. Flip the whole thing over quickly, still holding firmly with both hands, so that the bottom of the pan faces up. Set it down and let gravity and the nonstick vegetable oil spray do their work. Tap lightly if necessary to release the cake.
  2. If you would like a smaller cake, you can halve the recipe and bake it in an 8-inch round cake pan.

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