Caramel Apple Gingerbread Upside Down Cake

As of yet, I have not enjoyed enough gingerbread in my life. When that day comes, I will let you know. I’m working on stocking my cupboards with ingredients so I can take the scary plunge into the unknown (to me) world of gluten-free baking.

Why, oh why, doesn’t wheat like me? I’ve asked myself this question for months and months. It is so delicious. I can’t imagine living my life without it. And yet, I also can’t imagine continuing life with it. We just can’t make it work.

Before I said farewell to wheat (again), I gave it a proper send off. I cloaked it in butter, sugar, molasses and spices. Then I poured it into a buttered and caramel-apple-ed glass pan, put it the oven and let the magic happen.

I cleared my fridge of heavy cream after the holidays, so now whipped cream for the top of this cake.  The only remaining choice was sour cream, heavy cream’s tart and sassy sister. I sweetened it up a bit with vanilla sugar and whipped it to the best of my ability. (Sour cream doesn’t actually whip, I had high hopes. After all, not all dairy can be creme fraiche or mascarpone, but whatevs.  It went perfectly with the spices and caramel apples.)

My daughter could not contain her excitement.  She had to have some of those apples.  And not now, ten minutes ago.  When is it going to be ready???

No one in the house could have been more excited.  She and I dug in while it was still too hot to eat. The caramel burning our tongues.  We didn’t care.  It was all in the name of gingerbread.  I had deprived our holiday gluttony from enjoying the dark, spicy cake far too long.

You know what else would be good?  Pears instead of apples.  I’m just thinking about that now as I’m typing this.  That would be incredible.  Someone try it and then come back and tell us.  Or bring me some to taste.  (I’ll make a wee exception.)

Caramel Apple Gingerbread Upside Down Cake


For caramel apples:
4-5 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4″ slices
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

For Gingerbread Cake:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup molasses (light or dark is fine)
1 cup very hot water
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground ginger or 1 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom

For serving:
1 cup full fat sour cream
2 Tbsp. sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For caramel apples:

Prepare the apples by melting 2 Tbsp. butter in a large (3 quart) pan. Add the apples, sugar, water, and vanilla. Cook until apples have softened and the juices have become a syrupy. Set aside until ready to use. (If your pan is tall instead of shallow, you may need to remove the apples from the pot, leaving the syrup and juices behind, and let the syrup cook until it is reduced and syrupy.)

For gingerbread cake:
Grease a 9 by 13″ baking dish. Beat butter and sugar until creamy and well blended. Add the egg. Beat until well combined. Add the molasses and beat to combine. Add the dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Slowly add 1 cup hot water with the mixer running on low speed. (You don’t want it to splash everywhere.)

Place cooled apples and syrup in the greased pan. Pour the batter over the top and spread it to the edges with a spatula. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Loosen the side with a thin spatula and invert onto a large serving platter. (You can let it cool a bit before inverting, but if you wait too long the cake won’t come out of the pan.) Let cool for a few minutes before serving. The cake is best served warm or at room temp with a dollop of whipped heavy cream or sweetened sour cream.

What’s your poison?  Do you love gingerbread or do you prefer good old fashioned chocolate cake?

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  1. I am a chocolate cake girl. But I haven’t baked in a while. Because I will eat it. So if I don’t bake, I am not consuming those calories. I have to same me from myself.

  2. I love gingerbread. My mom used to make it when I was younger with a really delicious lemon sauce. This looks so good. I’ve given up butter for January, but not for life, so I could make this for valentines day. I love the idea of using pears too.

  3. OH, wow, this has inspired all of my 5 senses. I’m salivating.

    I love what a food enthusiast your daughter already is. I’m sure smelling this goodness baking was hard to resist.

    Thanks for a great recipe, Lindsey!!


  4. Sounds divine. What a great way to send off wheat :)
    Good luck on your gluten-less adventures. Maybe you will find a delicious gingerbread recipe that is gluten free!

  5. I am definitely a chocolate anything kind of girl. Got have it everyday or i’m not such a nice mommy! This recipe looks beautiful! Good luck on your gluten-free journey- again. I will be praying for you…:)

  6. That is a delicious cake. I’m really fond of gingerbread and your recipe is a perfect addition to my collection. have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  7. That is quite a nice send off I would say. I imagine that this would indeed be great with pears like you suggested. I’ve made a few gingerbreads before that involved pear and they were great. Do you know that it’s never occurred to me to sweeten sour cream and serve it instead of whipped cream -what a brilliant idea, thanks!

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