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- Tips for Making Sourdough Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake
- What is Boiled Apple Cider?
- Tools Needed for Sourdough Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake
- Ingredients Needed for Sourdough Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake
- How to Make Sourdough Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake
- How to Serve Sourdough Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake
- How to Store Sourdough Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake
- Sourdough Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake FAQs:
- Sourdough Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake
- Other Recipes You Might Like:
Boiled apple cider caramelizes the top of this sourdough apple cider upside-down cake to create a decadent, spice cake dripping in gooey caramel apple goodness.
I love upside-down cakes because they’re so easy to make yet dramatic! Suspense builds as you turn the cake upside-down for the ultimate reveal- a geometric fruit design dripping in hot, caramelized sugar.
Boiled apple cider in the topping accentuates the brightness of apples in this sourdough apple cake. A bit of optional red miso in the topping transforms the sweet topping, making it reminiscent of salted caramel apples. The miso contributes some umami, or savoriness, to the acidic apple cider topping.
Tips for Making Sourdough Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake
1. Use Cake Flour
- Cake flour has a low protein content, resulting in less gluten development. Less gluten development leads to a more tender and soft cake.
- If you don’t have cake flour, you can substitute it with an equal amount of all-purpose flour and add two tablespoons of cornstarch for each cup of flour (120 grams).
2. Don’t Overmix the Cake Batter
- A tender cake is made by not overmixing the batter. Overmixing results in gluten development, which is suitable for bread, but not for pastries, cakes, or muffins. For another tender cake, I use the reverse-creaming method in this Sourdough Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake.
- Therefore, only mix the cake batter until the wet and dry ingredients are just incorporated.
3. Let the Topping Set in the Refrigerator Before Baking
- Allow the boiled apple cider caramel topping and sliced apples to set in the refrigerator while you preheat the oven and make the cake batter.
- A set topping will keep the geometric shape of your apples when you pour in your cake batter. Otherwise, the apples can shift and you will not get as nice of a design.
4. Use Neutral Oil
- Buttermilk and sourdough discard add moisture to the cake batter, but neutral oil is the key to a soft and moist upside-down cake.
- Upside-down cakes have a tendency to be denser than typical cakes because the hot topping weighs down the crumb structure.
- Additionally, neutral oil like canola or vegetable oil keeps an upside-down cake moist for days and helps the cake rise higher than one made with butter.
5. Use Baking Apples
- Red Delicious apples don’t have much flavor, can be mealy, and get mushy when baked. In contrast, use tart, hard-fleshed baking apples for the best muffins or other baked goods. They will still keep some of their texture and tartness when baked.
- For instance, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Braeburn, or Honeycrisp are solid options for this topping.
What is Boiled Apple Cider?
Boiled apple cider, or apple cider syrup, is concentrated apple cider that has a thick honey or caramel consistency.
In this apple cider cake, boiled apple cider creates a caramel topping. The apple cider topping is intensely apple-y and highlights the natural sweetness and acidity in apples with no added sugar. The resulting cake tastes like a caramel apple upside-down cake!
How to Make Boiled Apple Cider
You can purchase boiled apple cider, but making it couldn’t be easier.
It takes a few hours to make, so I suggest making the boiled apple cider ahead of time (it stores indefinitely).
Boiled Apple Cider Instructions
- Pour a half gallon of apple cider into a large pot.
- Boil and simmer the cider for about 3 hours or more until the cider is reduced to one cup. The cider will get darker as it reduces like caramel.
- Stir the cider regularly to prevent burning, especially as it nears the end.
- When done, pour the hot cider into a glass jar and cool. The cider will thicken as it cools.
- Refrigerate the boiled apple cider. It will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.
Yield: Boil apple cider to ⅛ of the starting amount. For example, one gallon of apple cider will make about 2 cups of boiled apple cider.
How to Use Boiled Apple Cider
Boiled apple cider has become a new favorite pantry staple for me. It’s a simple addition that intensifies apple flavor in any dessert.
Here are a few ways to use boiled apple cider:
- Add a couple of tablespoons of boiled apple cider to apple pie filling for extra flavor.
- Pour the cider as a syrup onto pancakes for a fall flair, like on my Sourdough Pumpkin Waffles.
- Substitute simple syrup in a cocktail recipe with boiled apple cider. It’s excellent in Old Fashioned’s or other bourbon drinks.
Tools Needed for Sourdough Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake
Click on the toggles below for more information, recommendations, and possible substitutes.
9″ Cake Pan
This sourdough apple cider upside-down cake is made for a 9″ cake pan. If making in a smaller pan, you should only fill the batter up ¾ of the way so it doesn’t overflow.
I always list ingredients by weight in grams because it is the most accurate way to measure baking ingredients. Use a scale, and your baking will immediately be better!
I love my Escali baking scale and use it every day. The batteries last a long time, the scale is accurate, and it comes in many colors.
Ingredients Needed for Sourdough Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake
Click on the toggles below for more information, recommendations, and possible substitutes.
Boiled Apple Cider
For the best flavor, I highly recommend finding apple cider from a local orchard or farmer’s market. It’s unbeatable!
To clarify, this is non-alcoholic apple cider, as opposed to hard or alcoholic cider.
Furthermore, be sure not to accidentally use apple cider vinegar.
Red Miso (optional)
Red miso is fermented soybeans and other grains typically found in savory Japanese recipes.
The red miso here adds a bit of savoriness, or umami, to the cake and is reminiscent of salted caramel in this upside-down topping.
I really like Miso Master’s organic red miso that’s made in the U.S. and can sometimes be found in the refrigerated sections of co-ops and well-stocked grocery stores. You can also get excellent miso from Japanese markets.
Use tart, hard-fleshed baking apples in this recipe. Granny Smith, Braeburn, Pink Lady, and Honeycrisp are good easily found options.
Sourdough Starter (unfed or discard)
For this apple upside-down cake recipe, you can use an active sourdough starter or unfed sourdough discard. The sourdough is not leavening in this recipe.
I use ground cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in this spiced cake recipe.
If you don’t have one of the other spices, skip it. Moreover, apple pie spice is a suitable substitute, or you could add some cardamom or allspice.
A neutral oil like vegetable oil, grapeseed, or canola oil will keep your cake moist, tender, and rise higher.
If you’re out of oil, use an equal amount of softened unsalted butter.
- Vanilla Extract
- Unsalted butter
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Sea Salt
- Dark Brown Sugar
- 2 Eggs
How to Make Sourdough Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake
Follow this visual and detailed guide to help you make the best Sourdough Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake.
1. Prepare Cake Pan
Butter or spray a 9″x2″ cake pan with non-stick spray.
Trace and cut out a circle of parchment paper and place it in the bottom of the pan.
2. Slice Apples and Make Apple Cider Caramel Topping
Slice 2 medium apples about ¼ inch thick and arrange the slices in a geometric design in your cake pan.
It’s okay if some of the slices overlap, but I typically try to fit them all in one layer.
Snack on any extra slices!
In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the following ingredients:
- ½ cup (150 grams) of boiled apple cider
- 3 TBS (43 grams) of unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons of red miso (optional)
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Stir the topping until the butter melts, the red miso is dissolved, and the cider starts to bubble rapidly- about 5 minutes.
Slowly drizzle all of the hot apple cider caramel directly onto the apples in the cake pan.
Place the pan in the refrigerator while you preheat the oven and make the cake batter so the topping will set.
3. Preheat Oven and Mix Dry Ingredients
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC).
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the following dry ingredients:
- 1 ½ cups (180 grams) of cake flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- ½ teaspoon of baking soda
- ½ teaspoon of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon of ground cloves
4. Mix Wet Ingredients
In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, mix the following wet ingredients:
- ¾ cup (150 grams) of sourdough starter (unfed or discard)
- ¾ cup (150 grams) of neutral oil
- ½ cup (113 grams) of buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup (213 grams) of dark brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla extract
5. Mix Cake Batter
Dump all of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredient bowl.
Mix the batter until you see no more dry spots of flour remaining. It’s okay if some lumps remain and the batter will be quite wet.
Remove the cake pan with the set apple topping from the refrigerator.
Slowly pour the cake batter evenly on top of the apples in the pan.
If your topping is not fully set, use a measuring cup to scoop out the batter into the pan so the apples don’t move.
Bake the cake at 350ºF (177ºC) for 40-45 minutes until the top is light brown and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Note that the bottom of the toothpick will be wet from the gooey topping.
Cool the cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges of the cake with a butter knife or offset spatula.
Place a large serving plate on top of the pan. Wearing gloves or using kitchen towels, quickly turn the pan and platter upside-down.
Gently lift up the hot cake pan and remove the parchment paper if necessary to reveal your sourdough apple cider upside-down cake!
How to Serve Sourdough Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake
This apple upside-down cake is best served warm or at room temperature.
It’s excellent served with something creamy like whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or a dollop of mascarpone, to offset the tartness of the apples.
This cake serves 8-10 people.
How to Store Sourdough Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake
This apple cider cake stays moist for days! In addition, the neutral oil and sourdough discard help to preserve it longer than many cakes.
Cover the cake with a cake dome or wrapped in aluminum foil for up to 3 days at room temperature. The cake will stay moist this way, as the topping will start to soak into the cake itself.
Keeping the apple cake in the refrigerator will extend its storage time by another day or two.
Unfortunately, this upside-down cake isn’t the best cake for freezing as the apples will turn brown quickly and the cake will lose some of its texture.
Sourdough Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake FAQs:
How many slices of cake does this upside-down cake make?
This recipe makes 8-10 slices of cake depending on how big you cut each slice.
What is the best apple for apple cake?
Use tart, hard-fleshed apples in baking recipes for the best results. For example, Granny Smith, Braeburn, Pink Lady, and Honeycrisp are all solid options.
Why is my upside-down cake dense?
Upside-down cakes have a propensity to be denser than typical cakes because the heavy fruit topping affects the crumb structure of the cake.
Use cake flour and neutral oil, and don’t over-mix the cake for the best results.
Can you freeze an upside-down cake?
I don’t recommend freezing this upside-down cake because the apples can turn brown and the texture of the cake is negatively affected, especially when it is thawed.
Sourdough Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake
Apple Cider Topping
- 1 ½ cups Cake Flour, 180 grams
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- ½ tsp Baking Soda
- ½ tsp Sea Salt
- 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- ¼ tsp Ground Ginger
- ⅛ tsp Ground Cloves
- ¾ cup Sourdough Starter, 150 grams, active or discard
- ¾ cup Neutral Oil, 150 grams. Vegetable, canola, or grapeseed oil.
- ½ cup Buttermilk, 113 grams
- 2 Eggs
- 1 cup Dark Brown Sugar, 213 grams
- 1 ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
- Butter or spray a 9" cake pan with non-stick spray.Prepare the pan with a circle of parchment paper and line the bottom of the pan.
- Slice the apples about ¼ inch thick and arrange the slices in a geometric design in the cake pan. It's okay if some overlap.In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the apple cider topping ingredients. Stir in the pan until it begins to bubble rapidly, about five minutes.Drizzle the apple cider caramel on top of the apples and place the cake pan in the refrigerator for the topping to set.2 medium Apples, ½ cup Boiled Apple Cider, 3 TBSP Unsalted Butter, 2 tsp Red Miso, ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC).In medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Set aside.1 ½ cups Cake Flour, 1 tsp Baking Powder, ½ tsp Baking Soda, ½ tsp Sea Salt, 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon, ¼ tsp Ground Ginger, ⅛ tsp Ground Cloves
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl with a whisk, mix the wet ingredients until incorporated.¾ cup Sourdough Starter, ¾ cup Neutral Oil, ½ cup Buttermilk, 2 Eggs, 1 cup Dark Brown Sugar, 1 ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
- Dump all of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredient bowl.Mix the cake batter until you see no more dry spots in the flour remaining. It's okay if some lumps remain.
- Remove the cake pan from the refrigerator and slowly pour the cake batter on top of the apples in the pan. If your topping is not fully set, use a measuring cup to scoop out the batter into the pan.Bake the cake at 350ºF (177ºC) for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is lightly brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Note that the bottom of the toothpick will be wet from the caramel topping.
- Cool the cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes and loosen the edges of the cake with a butter knife or offset spatula.Place a large serving platter on top of the pan. Wearing gloves or using kitchen towels, quickly turn the pan and platter upside-down.Gently lift the hot cake pan and remove the parchment paper if necessary.Serve warm or at room temperature.