The Upside-down Apple Cake Everyone Likes

A plate with a slice of pie and ice cream on it.

Make an upside-down apple cake that is easy and flavorful. Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, this outstanding dessert, with only a few ingredients, produces unbelievable results. 

This is the best cake to surprise your guests

If you really want to invite your partner to a romantic dinner or you just want to prepare something scrumptious with your children, you should stick to only one rule: simplicity. 

Easy to prepare, an upside-down cake is a sure success with inexpensive ingredients. 

A slice of apple pie on a plate with ice cream.

Its origin? It comes from France

In France, they call it Tarte Tatin. Here in Italy, it is an upside-down cake. We borrowed” it from our French neighbors and customized it to please our own tastes. 

This cake was created by mistake: The cook forgot to place the pastry dough on the bottom of the cake pan. So, guess what? She fixed it by topping the apples with the dough instead. 

Once baked, she turned the cake upside down onto a serving platter, and the guests ate it up in a short time. It was an overwhelming success for a cake, which was named after its inventor Tarte Tatin, the cooks name. Nowadays, it is well known all over the world for its pleasant texture and delicious taste. Although this recipe is made with apples, in the US, it is most often made with peaches and sometimes pineapple.

A slice of pineapple upside down cake on a plate.

An easy cake

As you have just read above, it takes very little time to bake this delicious, yet easy cake. Thin and crunchy, the bottom layer is made of caramel apples, sugar, and butter; then it is covered with a sheet of shortcrust pastry, baked, and turned upside down. Thats all. It’s a piece of cake, isnt it?  

How can you make an upside-down cake?

As in all the traditional recipes, this comes in several versions; mine is the Italian version.  I love the shortcrust pastry version even though some recipes call for piecrust. It is very easy to make; you can prepare the shortcrust pastry in a few minutes. Then it only takes a little time to peel and cut the apples into slices.   

Does it add to a romantic dinner?

Yes, definitely. Not only is it delicious, but it is also pleasing to look at. Arrange the apples in a cake pan carefully to form a beautiful decoration. You will almost feel guilty cutting into it.  

A slice of apple pie with ice cream on a plate.

Do you want to vary it? 

Upside down cake usually requires Granny Smith, Macintosh, or Golden apples, but you can use any baking apples you have in your pantry. Dont bother about the quantity: it depends on the size of the apples and on the size of your cake pan. 

If you dont like apples, use slices of pineapple, or peaches (fresh are better). You can also replace the shortcrust pastry with a pie crust; some store bought ones are very good. However, I think that piecrust pastry is too thin to hold the weight of the apple. 

The Upside-down Apple Cake Everyone Likes

This is a delicious, yet elegant cake. Thin and crunchy, the bottom layer is made of caramel apples, sugar and butter. Then cover it with a shortbread crust, bake it, and then turn it upside down. That’s all. 
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Keyword apple cake, apples, tartatin, upsidedown cake
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


For the short crust pastry 

  • 2/3 cup of butter (150g)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar (100g)
  • 1 small egg
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1 cup of cake flour (250g)

For the topping 

  • 3-4 Golden, McIntosh, or Granny Smith apples 
  • 2/3 cup of sugar (150g)
  • 2 tbsp of butter (30g)
  • Short crust pastry
  • Lemon zest to taste
  • Vanilla ice cream to garnish  
Servings 8 people


  • First, prepare the shortcrust pastry; combine all the ingredients quickly so as not to melt the butter  (see this method – crostata di frutta);
  • Peel and slice the apples into quarters and cut out the core; 
  • Place small pieces of butter on the bottom of your cake pan and sprinkle with half of the sugar; 
  • Arrange half of the apple slices with the concave side upright; 
  • Sprinkle with the remaining sugar; 
  • Arrange the remaining apple slices with the concave side down; 
  • Pre-heat the oven to 200-220°C (400°F) and bake for 10 minutes, on the lowest rack of the oven; 
  • Meanwhile, roll out the shortcrust pastry with a rolling pin until 2-3cm thick; it must be a little wider than the baking pan; 
  • Take the baking pan with the apples out of the oven and assemble the cake; 
  • Top the apples with the short crust pastry and seal the edges to shape a solid base to hold the weight of the apples; pick the pastry with the tongs of a fork; 
  • Pre heat the oven at 180°C (350°F) and bake for 25-30 minutes on the middle rack of the oven, until the crust is golden brown; 
  • Take the cake out of the oven, let it cool down for 5 minutes, then turn it upside down onto a serving plate; 
  • Does the cake still look too pale on its surface? The apples haven’t caramelized, but don’t worry. Put the cake on the top rack of the oven; turn the oven to 200°C (400°F) for about 5 minutes. Watch it carefully so that it doesn’t burn. 
  • Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or custard (see recipe below). 

A custard for this special cake 

Prepare the custard with ½ cup (100 ml) of milk, ½ cup (100 ml) of cream, 2 egg yolks, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Heat the cream and milk in a small pot; meanwhile mix eggs, sugar, and cornstarch and add them to the warm liquid. Stir until evenly combined. Enjoy this delicious creamy custard spooned over your cake.

How to keep the leftovers 

An upside-down cake is best consumed fresh; however, you may store it up to one day, but it will be less crunchy. Dont freeze. 

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