Apple Spice Upside-Down Cake

December 18th, 2012 at 8:08 am

So back before Thanksgiving, I was scrolling through Facebook one night and came across a recipe mentioned in a comment thread for an upside-down pear gingerbread cake. I must have had a sweet tooth that night, because it sounded so good to me that I nearly leaped up out of my chair right that second to see if I had the ingredients on hand to make it.

As it turns out, I didn’t, but I bookmarked the recipe and thought about it on almost a daily basis up until last week when I finally got around to doing some baking. The recipe comes from The Health Honey, a blog written by my friend Stephanie. She and I met a year or two ago through Facebook and quickly became friends. Her approach to food is refreshingly real and honest, and always grain-free/Paleo. Whenever she shares photos of what she’s made for lunch or dinner, my mouth immediately waters and I find myself wishing that I was her neighbor.

But swapping recipes through the miles will have to work for now, I suppose. I used Stephanie’s recipe (which she based off of this recipe) as the inspiration for this festive Apple Spice Upside-Down Cake. It is amazingly moist and fragrant. I couldn’t find any ripe enough pears at the time, which is why I used apples instead. I also made my version dairy-free with coconut oil instead of butter and mixed up a few of the other ingredients according to what I had on hand.

If you love apples and gingerbread, you’ll love this cake. It does not disappoint and you will never guess how healthy it is from the taste. Coconut flour, one of the trickiest but also most fun flours to work with in my opinion, lends a lovely sponginess to the cake without making the whole thing taste eggy (as can sometimes be the case with grain-free baked goods).

I’m kind of a cake purist and prefer mine without ice cream, but if you’d like to add a scoop on top of your slice, it certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea. (Dairy-free Vanilla Macadamia Ice Cream, anyone?)

To make this cake, you’ll need to start by placing a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan. Then make sure to grease the paper and the sides of the pan with a little coconut oil. (I used about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to grease the entire pan.)

You’ll start making the cake by tossing sliced apples with a little orange juice and coconut sugar (1). As they tenderize and become a little syrupy, you’ll prepare the batter. When the batter is ready, you’ll arrange the apples in the bottom of the parchment-lined cake pan (2). Then you’ll cover the apples with the batter (3). It’s pretty thick and you’ll wonder how on earth it will turn into a light and fluffy cake. Don’t worry, it does.

After baking and cooling the cake, you’ll want to run a knife around the edge of the pan (1) to loosen the cake. It doesn’t stick much so long as you’ve greased the pan. You’ll place a plate on top of the cake pan, hold the pan and plate together with your hands, and gently flip the whole thing so that the cake gets inverted onto the plate (2). Peel off the parchment paper if it sticks a little and voila! Beautiful grain-free apple upside-down cake (3).

Slice it up, dust the cake with some cinnamon, and you’re ready to serve!

Thanks, Stephanie, for the festive inspiration and for your commitment to real food! It’s a pleasure to know you.

Apple Spice Upside-Down Cake
Serves 8

Adapted from The Health Honey

The spices and molasses in this cake give it an almost gingerbread-like flavor. Serve it just as it is or with a scoop of your favorite dairy-free ice cream.

2 small to medium apples such a Gala or Pink Lady, peeled, cored, quartered, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon coconut sugar, divided use
1/2 cup (58 grams) coconut flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, room temperature (not melted), plus more for the pan
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan with a circle of parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper and the sides of the pan with about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.

Toss the apple slices with orange juice and coconut sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the coconut oil and remaining 1/4 cup coconut sugar until creamed, 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the applesauce and molasses. Beat to combine. (The batter will probably look thin and curdled at this point. That’s okay.) Add the flour mixture and beat to combine thoroughly.

Arrange the apple slices in a circular pattern in the prepared cake pan. (You may not use all of the apples. Save extras for snacking!) Spread the batter over the top of the apples. It will be thick, so use a rubber spatula to help spread it.

Bake for about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely.

Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Place a plate on top of the cake pan. Holding the plate to the pan with one hand and the pan itself with the other, flip the cake onto the plate. Gently remove the cake pan from the cake and peel off the parchment paper from the top. Voila! You’re ready to serve. Sprinkle slices with extra cinnamon before serving, if desired. (Store leftovers in the refrigerator.)

Find more healthy recipes at Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.


  1. This looks absolutely delicious! It would be the perfect Christmas dessert :)

  2. You have no idea how happy you’ve made me! I’ve been wondering what to make for Christmas Eve and/or Christmas dessert and you have given me the answer! I can’t wait to try this.

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  3. This Apple Spice Cake looks absolutely delicious! What a lovely post!

  4. thank you for this wonderful recipe! I made it for Christmas dessert. We had a little taste (we were stuffed after a late dinner) but enjoyed it for breakfast this morning. I only had a 9 inch round pan, so I made one-and-a-half recipes of the batter. It took about 10 more minutes to bake, but turned out beautifully!

    Thanks again-

  5. This is such a great giveaway! I use superfoods in my cooking for breakfast and desserts in every way possible. Either as an add-in or substitution or topping :)

  6. I am a facebook fan of yours, thanks!

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