I’ve been willing Fall to get here for the past few weeks. I am sure I have mentioned it before, it’s my favorite season. Cooler weather, the leaves changing, baking without overheating my house, the list goes on and on. There are a few flavors synonymous with this time of year, mainly pumpkin and apples. And while I normally like to welcome Fall with a new pumpkin recipe, I decided to go with the apples this year for a Caramel Apple Bourbon Upside Down Spice Cake. A bit of a mouthful!
A little backstory on this cake. I got the idea from watching a Fall themed movie on Hallmark Channel back in the Spring. I wrote the idea on a post-it and finally revisited it a few weeks ago. And of course, there were a few fails before I finally ended up with a cake that looked and tasted delicious. My first cake collapsed in the middle. My cake tester led me astray! The cake was slightly undercooked in the middle and there was no saving it. The fail though led me to change the flavor of the cake so it was kind of a good thing. Initially I doctored a French vanilla cake mix and decided the flavor just wasn’t right, so I switched to a spice cake instead. That definitely screams Fall more so than French Vanilla. So, I bought a spice cake Mix and made a few tweaks to it. I also decided to bake the cake in a tube pan to ensure it would bake completely without drying out. Well, it still wasn’t quite right. I used heavy cream when I made my bourbon caramel sauce and I just didn’t like the way it looked after flipping the cake. And while the cake tasted good, I just wasn’t getting enough spice from it.
Thankfully my third attempt was a success! First, I decided to omit the heavy cream from my caramel sauce. Second, I went with a yellow cake mix and added in cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and cloves (those yummy warm spices of the season) to really get a strong spice flavor. And third, after I poured the caramel and arranged the apples in the pan, I placed the pan in the refrigerator while I made the batter for the cake. This allowed the apples to set in the caramel so that they wouldn’t move when I poured the batter into the pan. This actually happened with my second attempt at this cake. I had arranged my apples in a nice design and they moved all around once I poured the batter in. I didn’t take any chances with my third attempt though. I spooned the batter into the pan just to be safe.
Just look at how the apples looked before I added the batter. I definitely wanted that look on top of my cake once it was done.
And thankfully since I made those tweaks my cake looked amazing once I flipped it out of the pan. YAY!!!
And even better, the taste and texture of the cake was spot on.
Happy Fall Y’all!
Bourbon Caramel Apple Upside Down Spice Cake
For the Bourbon Caramel Apple:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup bourbon
2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (about 1/4 inch)
For the Spice Cake:
1 15.25 box of yellow cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk*, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*Make your own buttermilk by adding 4 teaspoons of vinegar to a measuring cup and then adding enough whole milk to make 3/4 cup. Let stand for 15 minutes at room temperature, or until the milk becomes thick and appears curdled.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a tube pan with baking spray and set aside. You could also use a Bundt pan.
For the Bourbon Caramel Sauce:
In a small saucepan combine the brown sugar and butter and melt over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture is melted and combined remove from the heat and add the bourbon. Return to the heat for about a minute and stir to combine. Let cool slightly.
Pour the caramel sauce into the prepared pan and arrange the apple slices in the sauce making sure to overlap them.
While you make the cake batter refrigerate the pan with the apples and caramel sauce so the sauce can set. This will help the apples stay in place when you add the batter.
For the Spice Cake:
In a medium bowl whisk together the yellow cake mix with the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and cloves. Set aside.
In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer on low speed, beat the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla extract until combined. Using a fine mesh sieve (or a sifter) sift the cake mix with the spices over the buttermilk mixture and then beat with the hand mixer on medium speed until just combined.
Remove the pan from the refrigerator and spoon the batter over the apples. Give the pan a few gentle taps on the counter to remove any air bubbles and then bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes and then invert onto a cake platter or other rimmed dish. Let the cake to cool to room temperature before slicing and enjoying. It’s important to let the cake cool before slicing so the apples can set on the cake. If you slice it too soon the apples will slide off.
Recipe first appeared on Bead Yarn & Spatula