Classic desserts have lasted decades for a reason, and upside down cakes are just another example of why. Caramelized fruit on a bed of butter cake is a sweet treat that transcends generations, and baking one this summer will not only appease your older relatives, but will also excite your younger ones. The beautiful appearance of upside down cakes is no doubt intimidating, but the dessert is actually quite simple to make. Plus, if our ancestors could do it in the early 1900s with far less equipment than we use now, it’s safe to say we can, too. Check out these six recipes for upside down cakes — the only decision you should have to make is which fruit to enlist. This confection will no doubt be the prettiest sweet treat on the dessert table.
1. Caramelized Banana Upside Down Cake
Our first recipe comes from Broma Bakery. Sarah, the recipe developer behind this food formula, enlists bananas as her fruit of choice, and it’s not difficult to discern why. While bananas are great fresh, they’re also famous for tasting terrific when crystallized, and placing them on a bed of cake only makes the treated fruit more decadent. Grab your bananas, brown sugar, butter, and get baking. This cake takes only one hour to make and can be prepared using just one bowl.
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 2 bananas, sliced
- 1 mashed banana
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 egg, room temperature
- ⅓ cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a springform pan with butter. Place pan on top of an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet to help with drips. Mix the melted butter and brown sugar together and spread evenly along the bottom of the pan. Place the sliced bananas on top of the brown sugar mixture in a circular pattern.
In a large bowl, mix together the mashed banana, melted butter, egg, Greek yogurt, sugar, and vanilla extract until combined. Stir in the baking powder and salt, then stir in the flour, mixing until just combined.
Spread the batter evenly on top of the bananas, and bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the top has started to turn golden brown along the edges and the brown sugar and butter bubbles up along the rim of the pan.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes before inverting over a cake tray.
2. Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
Next, grab that rhubarb while it’s still in season and try Green Kitchen Stories’ rhubarb upside down cake. If you’re looking for a dessert that will taste great and look even better, this sweet treat is the ticket. Rhubarb’s show-stopping hue gives the cake a pop of bright color and when the rhubarb is delicately arranged atop a yogurt and almond cake, the upside down confection is truly irresistible.
- 4 to 5 stalks fresh thin rhubarb
- 4 tablespoons honey
- ⅔ cup water
- ½ inch fresh ginger, grated
- 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
- 2 cups almond flour
- ½ cup buckwheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 to 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 100 grams butter
- ½ cup honey or maple syrup
- 2 organic lemons, zest
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1 cup full-fat yogurt
Directions: Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Trim the rhubarbs and cut into 2-inch pieces on an angle. Combine rhubarb, honey, water, ginger, and a scraped vanilla pod in a large pot over medium low heat. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is tender and slightly caramelized but still intact. Pick up the rhubarb pieces to cool off and save the syrup for later. If the syrup is too thin, you can let it reduce over heat for a few minutes more. If you want more syrup, you can add some extra water and honey and let it slowly cook for a few minutes more.
Combine almond flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder, poppy seeds, and sea salt in a small bowl and set aside. Place butter, honey, and lemon zest in a medium size bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until creamy. Add egg yolks and continue to beat for another minute. Add the flour mixture and fold everything together.
Clean the whisking blades and beat egg whites in a separate bowl until soft peaks form. Slowly fold the egg whites and the yogurt into the cake mixture.
Put a baking sheet inside an 8-inch spring form cake pan. Arrange the rhubarb in a tight rose shaped pattern on the bottom of the pan. It will look extra beautiful if you place them in color order – with the dark red pieces furthest out and the light green ones towards the center. Carefully cover the rhubarb with cake batter. Bake for about 50 to 60 minutes, or until dark and golden on the top and baked all way through. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes before turning it upside-down on a serving platter and removing the sides. Drizzle the rhubarb syrup on top before serving.
3. Pineapple Upside Down Cake
The classic upside down cake is next, and that would be pineapple upside down cake. This recipe from Joy of Baking teaches us how to master the decades-old decadent dessert. While bakers in ages past often used canned pineapple to bake the cake, we have the option of enlisting fresh or canned fruit, although fresh is generally best. Pick up some maraschino or candied cherries when you pick up your pineapple, and you should be good to go. This recipe calls only for baking staples, and your cake will be ready in no time.
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 1 medium pineapple (peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced 1¼-inch thick)
- Maraschino cherriesor candied cherries
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, separated
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place rack in the center of the oven. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan with three inch sides.
For the topping: Place the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Continue cooking, without stirring, for a few more minutes or until bubbles just start to appear around the outside edges of the mixture. Then remove from heat, and pour into your prepared cake pan. Evenly arrange the fresh pineapple slices on top of the sugar mixture.
For cake batter: In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat in the vanilla extract. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture, alternately with the milk, ending with the dry ingredients.
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar just until the whites hold a firm peak. With a large spatula gently fold the beaten egg whites into the cake batter in two additions. Pour the batter into the cake pan, smoothing the top. Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the top of the cake has browned and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan and then invert the cake onto your serving plate. Serve with softly whipped cream.
4. Cranberry Upside Down Cake
For another colorful confection, grab the cranberries and try this cranberry upside down cake from Brown Eyed Baker. While this dessert is the perfect treat to brighten up the Thanksgiving table, no one will be able to resist it in the summer, either. Taking just 20 minutes to get in the oven, this cake won’t keep you from socializing with your party guests, and will help satisfy the intense fruit cravings we all experience throughout the sunny season.
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
- 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1¾ cups fresh cranberries
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup milk
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
Rub the bottom and sides of an 8-inch cake pan with 2 tablespoons of the unsalted butter. In a small bowl, stir together ½ cup of the granulated sugar with the cinnamon and allspice. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Arrange the cranberries in a single layer on top of the sugar mixture.
Using an electric mixer, cream together the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter and ½ cup of granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, until well combined.
Spoon the batter over the cranberries in the pan, and smooth the top. Bake until a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake; invert onto a rimmed platter. Store any leftovers at room temperature.
5. Peach Upside Down Cake
Taking advantage of summer fruit, this fresh formula featured on Southern Living is for peach upside down cake. With this dessert, it’s all about that bright orange color, and the sweetness from the perfectly ripe peaches doesn’t hurt, either. When you’re ready to pivot away from chocolate and try some summer flavors, this cake is the first place you should turn.
- Parchment paper
- 4 medium peaches, unpeeled and cut into ⅓-inch-thick wedges
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup cake flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar, divided
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature and divided
- ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup sour cream
- Sweetened whipped cream (optional)
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss peaches with lemon juice. Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
Cook ½ cup granulated sugar in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, 10 minutes or until sugar melts and turns a deep amber color. Remove from heat. Immediately add ¼ cup butter, stirring vigorously. Spread caramelized sugar to coat bottom of skillet evenly, and sprinkle with brown sugar. Arrange peach wedges in concentric circles over sugar mixture, overlapping as needed.
Split vanilla bean lengthwise, and scrape out seeds into bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer. Beat vanilla seeds and remaining ¾ cup granulated sugar and ½ cup butter at medium speed until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add sour cream, beating until blended. Gradually add sifted flour mixture, beating at low speed just until blended and stopping to scrape bowl as needed. Spoon batter over peaches in skillet, and spread to cover. Place skillet on prepared baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in skillet on a wire rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge to loosen.
Carefully pour out any excess liquid from skillet into a measuring cup, and reserve. Carefully invert cake onto a serving plate, and drizzle with any reserved liquid. Cool slightly. Cut cake into wedges using a serrated knife. Top with sweetened whipped cream, if desired, and serve immediately.
6. Strawberry Upside Down Cake
We’re rounding out our list with a dessert from Deliciously Sprinkled that enlists some shortcuts and a Nutella drizzle. While fresh fruit is still the star of the show with this cake, the sweet treat also gets some help from marshmallows, cake mix, and of course, Nutella. Next time you’re pressed for time but still want to arrive to your summer gathering with a show-stopping dessert, bake this sweet treat. No one will guess your secret.
- 2 cups crushed fresh strawberries
- 1 package strawberry flavored gelatin mix
- 3 cups miniature marshmallows
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1⅔ cups buttermilk
- 4 large eggs
Directions: Preheat an oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray 9½-inch pie dish or 9-by-13 cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
Spread crushed strawberries on the bottom of a pie dish or cake pan. Evenly sprinkle strawberries with the dry strawberry gelatin powder, and top with mini marshmallows.
Using an electric or stand mixer, mix together the cake mix, buttermilk, and eggs until combined. Pour cake batter on top of the marshmallows. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool cake in the dish/pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the dish/pan to loosen the sides, and turn the cake out onto a large serving plate. Place Nutella in a piping bag or large ziplock bag with a small hole cut on one end, drizzle Nutella on top of cake.