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 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 and to fit into a springform pan for easier removal. Not only is it easy (meaning no mixer necessary), this recipe delivers a moist, flavorful and dairy-free (parve) cake that is perfect for any occasion.
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 and 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, and spread it on the bottom of your prepared pan. A small metal spatula is the perfect tool for spreading.
Press in the apples
To prepare the apples, peel, core and halve them, Place the flat side (the inner half) on a cutting board, and 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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
- ⅕ teaspoon salt
- 2 apples, cored and cut into at least ¼-inch wedges (see note below) (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, pink lady)
- 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.
- 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!