Middle-of-the-Night Apple Upside Down Cake

I’ve been thinking about an apple upside down cake for some time now and finally decided to give it a whirl before my daughter and her family left the States to return to England. Oh, and since they are flying out today, last night was THE night……………….

I have a crazy, fun, but also very special tradition with our four and five year old granddaughters. Each time I visit them in England or they visit us here in the States, we have a surprise party – in the middle of the night!! I started this years ago with my first granddaughter and now it is an expected and much anticipated occasion. I set my alarm for 2 or 3 in the morning and make a few preparations; I try to set the most magical looking kid’s table I can think of, often with my best or most fun china and glassware, special napkins, candles and flowers. Then I sneak into their room and gently tap on their little heads till they arouse.  I whisper softly “it’s Grammy……………. it’s Grammy”. When they finally start stirring and wake up a bit, I ask them what has become the proverbial question; “Do you want to go back to sleep or ………………… do you want to have a middle-of-the-night-party?”.  Even though they have been fast asleep in dreamy-land for hours, they always answer a resounding “Party!”

So we go downstairs with their sleep-laden eyes as big as saucers as we reach the table. We enjoy warm milk or hot chocolate in the winter or perhaps a fruity smoothy in the summer. There’s always a bit of sweet treat…. not too much to cause angst to their dear mom, and something fun to do. Last summer we went out on the porch and lit sparklers. This time we set off party poppers. Papa joined us this time and documented the fun with his camera.

I served the Apple Upside Down Cake with a tiny spritz of whipped cream and it was a big hit with the girls as well as with the rest of the family for dinner last night. For the family I served it with a drizzle of Ridiculously Easy Caramel Sauce, which was a perfect complement.


It’s a simple cake to put together. I used my Best Ever Yellow Cake recipe which is from Cook’s Illustrated. It’s one of those cakes that is honestly as easy as a cake mix. You just throw everything in the mixer bowl, beat for thirty seconds, bake…and voila! – just like the name says – the best ever (also light and moist) yellow cake! Whether you decide to have a middle of the night party or just want something easy, fun and delicious to serve to your family and/friends, this yummy cake is definitely a recipe you’ll want to have in your cool weather collection!

P.S. I didn’t show any pictures of Grammy because you would NOT want to see me in the middle of the night!! 🙂

This is all mommy saw when she woke up in the morning!
Middle-of-the-Night Apple Upside Down Cake

For the apple topping:
6 tablespoons butter
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced, I like to use Golden Delicious but Fugi, Braeburn or your favorite baking apples would also work well
½ cup dried currants or raisins, optional
For the cake batter:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Adjust oven rack to middle position.

2. Melt butter in a medium non-stick skillet. Add brown sugar and cinnamon and stir until well combined. Add apples and cook for two minutes until apples are just beginning to soften. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

3. Spray a 9-inch cake pan generously with baking spray. Sprinkle raisins or dried currants over bottom of pan. Arrange apples, slightly overlapping and beginning at the center and finishing at the outermost edges of the pan. The entire bottom of the pan should be covered with the apples. Pour any remaining syrup from the pan evenly over the apples.

4. For the cake, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add butter, buttermilk, egg and egg yolks, and vanilla; beat at medium speed until smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and mix by hand until smooth and no flour pockets remain.

5. Pour the batter over the apples and gently spread to the edges of pan. Be careful to not disturb the apples. Bake until golden and a toothpick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Check after 20 minutes as every oven is different.

6. Invert the cake onto a serving platter and allow to let rest upside down on platter for 10 minutes before removing pan. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream and expect rave reviews! We also like a drizzle of Ridiculously Easy Caramel Sauce with this cake.

Serves 8-10

20 thoughts on “Middle-of-the-Night Apple Upside Down Cake”

  • @sarah janeThanks for all the kind comments! Sarah Jane, I’m so happy you enjoyed the pizza! It is a fun pizza because it is wonderful in the summer or winter as there are so many wonderfulflavors that the strawberries can be supermarket variety (winter berries) and still the pizza is delicious!

  • Thanks Patty, they do go back to sleep quite willingly, but I always warn them and say “if you two talk and don’t go back to sleep, your parents will NEVER let us do this again!” So far, it’s worked! 🙂

  • This makes me want to get up in the middle of the night – what a fun and funny thing to do before they return home -next year Miss Lilly will have to join the party. I imagine Caite is delighted to sleep through this and imagine the fun.
    thanks for sharing with us all.

  • What a fantastic tradition. I love it!

    BTW, you inspired me with your Pork and Chorizo Chili with Black Beans and Black Eyed Peas for New Years and I gave you a shout out today in my post.

    You a one very cool (and dedicated) Grammy!

  • Sweet idea and such a pretty table, I’m curious did the girls go back to bed after the party? My grandsons are always in such a deep sleep at night, I’m not sure we could wake them up!
    The little girls are lovely;-)

  • What an absolutely cool tradition! What a fun grammy you are! By the time I’m a grammy, I’ll probably be well into my 60’s, but hopefully I’ll still be able to pull off something as magical as this! That second to the last picture of the girls says it all.

  • What a wonderful memory for your darling little grands. Next week we are hosting our January Slumber Party for our nine grands that live close by. It gives Mom and Dad a special night alone each month and we are going to instigate your tradition. PINNING!

  • Oh Chris I just love you and all of your great ideas. You are the best cook I know and such a wonderful Grammy. I plan to make this cake tomorrow night and I hope to be as fun as you someday!

  • Will you be my grandma? Yeah, I know. We’re the same age. ::sigh:: What a wonderful, fantastic idea!

    This cake is gorgeous. I’m going to have to check out that yellow cake. I’m all over things that are the best in the world yet that easy to make.

    I think I’ll also need to go buy some apples!

  • Chris… these photos look like they are right out of a fancy magazine spread… WOW! Your granddaughters are beautiful and you must be the most adored Grammy ever! I just love how you prepared a special place for them on the ottoman – (it brings back so many memories of my youth) – and the dessert… oh my… what a treat – laughed when I read: “middle-of-the-night” – that’s exactly right… those evening can’t resist moments. What a gorgeous post.

  • Chris… these photos look like they are right out of a fancy magazine spread… WOW! Your granddaughters are beautiful and you must be the most adored Grammy ever! I just love how you prepared a special place for them on the ottoman – (it brings back so many memories of my youth) – and the dessert… oh my… what a treat – laughed when I read: “middle-of-the-night” – that’s exactly right… those evening can’t resist moments. What a gorgeous post.

  • You’re one of the coolest grammy’s on the planet. This is such a fun idea and a wonderful tradtiion. I’m looking forward to baking this yummy cake also.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *