Apple Rum Upside Down Cake

Apple Rum Upside Down Cake

We are knee deep into the season of festive boozy desserts and I thought I’d add one that is also a very comforting kind of dessert.  With a splash of rum and a dash of spice, this cake fits the bill.  And since I’m always looking for ways to incorporate fresh fruit into my pastries and desserts, I decided a nice thin layer of apples baked in a brown butter and brown sugar rum topping would lift this cake to a soothing splendor.

This is an adult cake, but I'm careful to use alcohol in desserts for enhanced flavor rather than to overwhelm.  For the topping, I browned the butter and also added a tablespoon of rum and some spice to give the apples more complexity.  The cake itself has a pinch of nutmeg to complement the rum.  This is pretty easy to prepare and even easier to share when the mood strikes and you're in the company of good friends. 

I hope you’re feeling the spirit of the season and enjoying lots of holiday cheer.  Now is an especially good time to think about ways to give back and share the bounty in our lives with our community and loved ones.  Enjoy!

Bench notes:

- I like Fuji or Gala apples for this recipe.

- I use a parchment circle on the bottom of the pan to make removal of the cake easy and quick.

- Whenever preparing upside down cake, don’t let the fruit sit in the bottom of the pan with the sugar mixture for more than a few minutes. When fruit comes into contact with sugar, it begins to macerate and may produce an excess of juices, which may affect the texture of the cake.  So lay down the fruit just before you’re ready to begin mixing the cake.

- For the topping, it won’t take long to brown the small amount of butter so you’ll need to work fast.  Remember: when browning butter, both the pan and the butter get very hot.  That means that even when you’ve taken it off the heat, it will continue to brown from the residual heat.  So it’s important to have the remaining topping ingredients and the prepared cake pan ready to go because you’ll need to quickly stop the cooking after you take the butter off the heat.  Just as it looks like it’s reached an amber color, lift up the pan and swirl it a few times to watch its progress.  When it’s reached a bit darker brown, quickly stir in the remaining topping ingredients and pour into the prepared pan.  Remove the vanilla bean and swirl to evenly distribute the topping across the bottom to the edges of the pan.

- If you don’t have a vanilla bean for the topping, add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract when you add the sugar, rum and spice to the browned butter.

- Cut the apples into thin slices so they'll have the right texture in the time it takes the cake to bake.

- To avoid gummy cake, always let cake cool completely on a wire rack to allow the crumb to set, about 2 - 3 hours after removing it from the pan.

- More festive boozy treats: Profiteroles with Eggnog Ice Cream and Rum Sauce, Chocolate Rum Cake, Walnut Brandy Cake, Chocolate Rum Raisin Cake with Brown Sugar Rum Glaze, Olive Oil and Sherry Pound Cake and Whiskey Ice Cream with Hazelnut Crumble. 

Apple Rum Upside Down Cake

Serves 8


2 oz (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1/4 vanilla bean                  

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (4 1/2 oz) dark brown sugar, packed


  • 2 oz (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz) flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) dark brown sugar, packed
Read the whole recipe on Pastry Studio