Upside-Down Cake Recipe

Though you can make this cake with pretty much any fruit, bananas are my go-to, mostly because they’re always in season and they caramelize so nicely. Also you don’t see too terribly many banana upside-down cakes. But they’re delicious. This one is adapted from an early Craft restaurant cookbook, from back before Tom Colicchio was a caricature. It’s a great oh-no-I-forgot-we’re-having-company-tonight cake. A low-investment knockout. You’ll need:

For the Topping

3 medium bananas (or equivalent of peaches, apricots, pineapple, cherries, apples or pears)
7 ounces (1 cup) sugar
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) butter

For the Cake

7.5 ounces (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
7 ounces (1 cup) sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2.5 ounces (1/3 cup) melted butter
2 eggs, room temperature
4 ounces (1/2 cup) buttermilk, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the bananas along their length, then cut them in half. In a medium saucepan combine the sugar with about 1/4 cup water to moisten it. Swirl the pan over high heat until it’s a medium-to-dark amber, add the butter (watch for spattering) then whisk to combine it. It may take a little elbow grease to fully incorporate the butter. Be patient. While it’s still liquid, pour it promptly into an 8-inch-square cake pan. Let it cool and harden, then lay the banana slices on top, cut side down.

For the cake, sift the flour and baking powder into a medium bowl. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla. Next, in a stand mixer fitted with the whip, combine the sugar and butter. Whip until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, then alternate the flour and the buttermilk mixture, adding 1/3 of the flour mixture first, then half the buttermilk and so on until everything is used up. Scrape the bowl several times during the process.

Sharpe the finished batter into the pan on top of the caramel and bananas. Bake about 50 minutes until the cake is golden, bounces a bit when tapped with a finger, and begins to pull away from the pan. Cool it for five minutes, then unmold it onto a serving plate. Serve warm or at room temperature (both are fantastic) with a small scoop of ice cream.

24 thoughts on “Upside-Down Cake Recipe”

  1. Mmm…nothing like an upside-down cake. I just had “banana tatin” at a fancy restaurant, and was hoping to recreate something similar. Do you think a shot of rum could be added either to the caramel or the batter?

    1. No reason you couldn’t do both, Maria! I like my caramel with a little hey-how-are-ya. I encourage the practice in others!

      – Joe

  2. Is it really necessary to sift the flour or would giving a good stir with a whisk be good enough?

  3. Is it really melted butter in recipe or softened? By description (beat while fluffy) it seems to be meant softened. Anyway, my upside down banana cake is coming out of oven soon, hopefully I’ll get to taste it before baby wakes up and will be able to report success!

    1. I think either way will work. That’s a good point. The original recipe called for clarified butter which wasn’t necessary. I simplified it, but may simplify it still more on your suggestion. But anyway…how did it go?

      – Joe

  4. Okay, half of cake is already gone and I can report how it turned out. All in all cake is delicious (it’s hard to go wrong with such ingredient list) but something went wrong with caramel – after baking and inverting cake, most of caramel stayed stuck on the mold as hard crystallized layer. I added 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and pinch of cloves to the batter and it goes really well together with caramel and bananas. Crumb was somewhat dense but not too much so it can be made either with softened or with melted butter.

    1. Interesting…I sometimes get a little sticking but nothing like that. OK, I shall address it in the tutorial. Thanks, Antuanete!


      – Joe

      1. I’ve never made an upside down cake but I believe a little acid would keep the caramel softer, maybe a dash of cream of tartar? That’s just a guess and I wouldn’t know the amount but then I don’t have a blog so I’ll leave the hard part to you! 🙂

        1. Hey Frankly!

          I think what we need is a little more lubrication, but I like that idea too. Thanks!

          – Joe

          1. HMMMMM . . . maybe I was focusing on the wrong bit. I thought the caramel had hardened but maybe it was just stuck. Guess thats why you get the big money for blogging 😛

          2. Why do you think I do this, Frankly? If it wasn’t for the casheesh I’d take some loser job like…investment banking. This is where the Hamiltons are, baby.

            – Joe

  5. Hmmmm, i love making bananas Foster . . .I see a possibility for tweaking this a little.

    1. Nice idea, Frankly! I could see where this might go in several intriguing directions.

      – Joe

  6. Joe, what size and shape pan would you make this in? I’m not seeing that in the instructions? Also, do you grease the sizes of the pan? Maybe a piece of parchment on the bottom, if sticking is a problem?

    1. Hey Ted! The pan is in there, but it’s an 8″ x 8″ square. Let me know how it goes!

      – Joe

  7. The salt doesn’t appear in the directions. Presumably it goes with the other dry ingredients?

    Also I couldn’t resist adding some salt to the caramel…will know shortly how that turned out.

    1. Yes Evan, that’s right. And that’s a good idea. How did it turn out?


      – Joe

  8. Hi Joe,
    I am new to your site and made the cake with pineapples .want to tell you that it was the best cake I have ever a family of foodies and with baking quite regularly ,I got responses like “this is something else” ,”this is serious stuff”.
    A big thank you .

  9. Hi Joe,
    Have made the cake with once with pineapple and the second time with bananas ,and without doubt this is the best upside cake ever.

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