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Honey cake is a traditional dessert for the Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah, which is the Jewish new year. The reason is simple: for a sweet new year! We also enjoy apples dipped in honey for Rosh Hashanah for the same reason. Growing up, I never saw the two combined. It was always a honey cake, and just apples dipped in honey. I love the idea of an upside down apple cake, so I decided to combine the two for this perfect Rosh Hashanah dessert.

This honey cake recipe is adapted from a recipe shared by my sister-in-law and her mother — both of whom are fabulous cooks! I played with it a drop and tweaked a few things, mostly to get it to be an easy cake to make. I also wanted it to fit into a springform pan for easier removal. This recipe is easy (no mixer necessary) and delivers a moist, flavorful and dairy-free (parve) cake. Perfect for any occasion!

slice of honey upside down apple cake with two other slices in background and rest of cake with an apple.
This dairy free cake is ideal for Rosh Hashanah or any gathering during apple season.

How to Make Upside Down Apple Honey Cake

Make the base for the apples

The bottom of the pan is spread with a thin, brown sugar mixture, which adds wonderful flavor to the apples. It also prevents the apples from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Many upside down apple cake recipes use butter with the brown sugar. I wanted this recipe to be dairy free (parve) so that those who keep kosher can enjoy this dessert after eating a meal where meat is served. I therefore used refined coconut oil, which worked out great! Using a fork or a spoon, simply mix the refined coconut oil with the brown sugar. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Then spread it on the bottom of your prepared pan. A small metal spatula is the perfect tool for spreading.

overhead view of a springform pan with the brown sugar mixture on the bottom.
The brown sugar mixture comes together in about 30 seconds. Spread it thinly and evenly on the bottom of the prepared springform pan.

Press in the apples

To prepare the apples, peel, core and halve them. Place the flat side (the inner half) on a cutting board. Cut slices approximately 1/4 of an inch thick. Place them on top of the brown sugar mixture in a decorative fashion. Some people use lemon juice to prevent the apples from browning (oxidizing), but there is really no need to do so here. Leaving aside that I do not enjoy lemon on my apples, it will only take a couple of minutes (literally) to make the cake batter. If you want to avoid the apples from browning though, just cover the pan with plastic wrap while you make the cake batter.

apples arranged decoratively in the springform pan.
Arrange the apples in a decorative pattern, keeping in mind that the very bottom of the pan will be the top of the cake.

Make the honey cake batter

This cake is seriously super easy to make. As I said, no mixer is needed.

In a small bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, use the same whisk to whisk together the eggs with the sugar. Then whisk in all the rest of the liquid ingredients.

Whisk the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, just until the flour is fully absorbed into the liquid. Do not over mix.

Pour the batter over the apples.

And that’s it! Bake for 55-60 minutes.

overhead view of the cake just after it is taken out of the oven.
The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and it starts to pull from the edges of the pan.

Cooling the Upside Down Apple Honey Cake

Once the cake is done, allow it to cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a metal spatula along the sides, and remove the side of the springform pan. Place a serving plate centered over the cake, and flip the cake onto it. The apple side is now on top. Be careful! The mixture around the apples will be extremely hot. Allow the cake to cool completely to room temperature, which may take a couple of hours.

slice of honey upside down apple cake with two other slices in background and rest of cake with an apple.
This cake is so delicious!

Not so into honey? No worries! Try my Apple Bundt Cake.

Frequently Asked Questions About Making Upside Down Apple Honey Cake

Do I have to use a springform pan?

I prefer to use a springform pan because it is just easier to release the cake. However, you can certainly use a 9-inch by 3-inch round cake pan. (Do not use a pan that is less than 3 inches in height.) Make sure to use a parchment round on the bottom of the pan for easier release.

What are the best apples to use for an Upside Down Apple Honey Cake?

You can use any standard baking apple in this cake. Because the cake is naturally sweet, you may prefer a more tart apple like a Granny Smith or a Golden Delicious. On the sweeter side, honeycrisp work great for this cake also. Avoid apples that break down or get mushy quickly when heated.

What type of honey is best for an Upside Down Apple Honey Cake?

I like to use a local honey in my baking. That said, honey tends to lose many of its subtle properties once baked. It’s therefore not worth spending a fortune on some fancy shmancy honey. I recommend buying a local honey rather than some national brand, but make sure it is 100$ pure honey. If raw honey is more expensive, there is no need to splurge on it. Once the cake is baked, the honey in it is no longer raw anyway. I have made this cake with the cheapest honey I could find at Costco and at BJs, and the cakes were delicious every time.

Do I have to use coconut oil in the brown sugar mixture?

Absolutely not. I wrote this recipe intentionally to be dairy free, and I had refined coconut oil on hand, which worked wonderful in this recipe. Use refined coconut oil so you do not experience any coconut flavor. You can also use vegan butter or margarine. If you are not opposed to making this cake dairy free, you can certainly use butter.

Upside Down Apple Honey Cake

4.94 from 31 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 16 slices
Calories 282
This moist, easy to make cake, is big on honey flavor without being overly sweet and topped with delicious apples. The perfect dairy free dessert!


  • 9-inch springform pan


Apple Topping (for bottom of pan)

  • 55 grams refined coconut oil, vegan butter, margarine or butter (4 Tablespoons)
  • 110 grams light brown sugar (½ cup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • teaspoon salt
  • 2 apples, cored and cut into at least ¼-inch wedges (see note below) (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, pink lady)

Honey Cake

  • 240 grams all purpose flour (2 cups)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon allspice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50 grams sugar (¼ cup)
  • 396 grams honey (1 cup plus 2½ Tablespoons)
  • 110 neutral oil (vegetable, safflower, sunflower, canola, grapeseed) (½ cup )
  • 156 grams strong coffee, at room temperature (⅔ cup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Spray a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick spray and line the bottom with a parchment paper round.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, brown sugar, salt and vanilla. Spread evenly into prepared pan.
  • Place apples in circular, decorative fashion over the brown sugar mixture, pressing them into the brown sugar mixture.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and allspice. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, using the same whisk, whisk together the eggs and the sugar until fully combined. Whisk in the honey, oil, coffee, and vanilla.
  • Whisk dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until fully combined. Do not overmix.
  • Slowly pour batter over the apples. (Pouring the batter too quickly may cause apples to float into the batter.) Bake for 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick pressed in the center comes out clean and the sides of the cake start to pull away from the pan.
  • Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Use a metal spatula or knife to release the cake from the sides of the pan. Remove the side portion of the springform pan. Holding a serving dish over the cake, carefully invert the cake onto the serving dish. Remove the bottom of the pan and the parchment paper. Allow to cool completely before slicing.


  • Make sure not to cut the apples too thin or they may float into the batter. Press the apples into the brown sugar mixture, and slowly pour the cake batter over the apples.
  • For non-dairy free, feel free to use butter in the brown sugar mixture.
  • When using coconut oil, be sure to use refined coconut oil. Non-refined will bring a coconut flavor to the cake. 
  • Not all springform pans are created equally. Especially if your pan is at all banged up, some of the liquid might ooze out from the bottom. When baking in a springform pan, I always line a baking sheet with foil and place it on the rack under the springform pan to catch any drippings. (I recommend doing this also for pies.)
  • Feel free to add some sliced, toasted pecans on top of the apples just after inverting the cake onto the serving plate. As the brown sugar mixture cools to room temperature, the nuts will stay in place, adding additional decoration and texture to the cake.
  • Store the cake covered well (plastic wrap is great) at room temperature. It tastes even better the second day. For an extended keep, store it in the refrigerator. It should last up to one week, but mine is always gone within a few days!
Calories: 282kcal
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Jewish
Keyword: apples, dairy free, honey, parve, rosh hashanah


Calories: 282kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 203mg | Potassium: 79mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 44IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 1mg


  1. 5 stars
    OMG YES! This is amazing! Delicious, moist, sweet but not too sweet, and easy. Like it’s actually quick and easy, not just quick and easy for a baker like you! And it’s impressive to look at too. Win win and shall be repeated to grace my Rosh Hashanah table! Thank you!

    • So excited to see this recipe. Now I will only have to make one cake for the holiday. I am very curious to know if this cake can be frozen with good results. Looking forward to your response.

      • Rob Finkelstein Reply

        Hi Marsha. Yes, the cake can definitely be frozen. Once it is cooled to room temperature, wrap it in plastic wrap and place on a flat surface in the freezer. It should be good for at least a couple of months.

      • I made this last night and the apples rose to the top when I baked it. Any idea why?

        • Rob Finkelstein Reply

          The apples may have been cut too thin. It also helps to press them into the brown sugar mixture. I just updated the recipe to note these things.

    • 5 stars
      Delicious cake! I used butter instead of the coconut oil and it was great! But, be sure to put a baking sheet under the pan because mine dripped all over the bottom of my oven. It was so sticky that I had to self clean the oven the next morning.

  2. 5 stars
    I have been looking for a super easy, quick and delicious apple cake for the holidays. I also wanted something that would wow my guests when I brought it to the table. I tried this Upside Down Apple Honey Cake last night to test it out, and it is already almost gone! Not only was the presentation spot on spectacular looking, but the ease of putting the cake together was like no other. I loved the addition of honey, making it feel more traditional. Looks like I have found the prefect Rosh Hashanah Apple Cake!

  3. 5 stars
    When I saw “easy to make,” I thought “Yeahhhh….sure.” But it actually way. And it was delicious. I will make this all fall because the apples really just shine.

  4. 5 stars
    our kitchen smelled so good because of the spices in the recipe! such a sweet treat

  5. Amanda Dixon Reply

    This cake was delicious! The honey and apples were so good together, and it was perfectly spiced.

  6. Love that this cake is not too sweet but yet to tasty and moist.

  7. 5 stars
    This cake was easy to make and turned out great! Everyone loved it!

  8. Vanessa Winters Reply

    I’m not a coffee drinker therefore never have coffee around. Would there be an appropriate substitute?

    • Rob Finkelstein Reply

      You can use a strong tea instead of coffee. You can also use water — will just be slightly less flavorful.

  9. 5 stars
    This honey cake is phenomenal! I love the sweet taste and the texture is perfect! I will definitely be making this again!

    • Rob Finkelstein Reply

      I would not recommend doing so. The flour in this recipe holds the structure of the cake. Almond flour is unable to do that. I haven’t tried it, but I suspect you could substitute the flour for a 1-for-1 gluten free flour blend and it would still come out delicious.

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