Fresh Apricot Upside Down Cake

Fresh apricots are iffy; I'm always afraid to bite into one. So often they're mealy and I'm terribly disappointed! But I hate not taking advantage of them when I see them in the market, so now I invariably bake them in bars, tarts or cakes.
I've been saving this Gourmet recipe for a while and I loved the way it turned out. Not a single thing was needed on top...no ice cream, no whipped cream. Do you love that combination of sticky, gooey caramel on top of upside down cakes as much as I do?

One caveat: use a skillet or baking dish with at least 2 inch sides (higher, if you have one) AND place on a baking sheet covered with foil. Mine overflowed and made a mess in the oven and the smell of burning food permeated the house. What was I thinking? 
Once again, lesson learned: read directions thoroughly and then heed them!
Still, when I cut a slice....well worth the mess I had to clean up!

Fresh Apricot Upside-Down Cake
Gourmet  | July 2003 


For the topping:

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
10 or 11 small (2- to 2 1/4-inch) fresh apricots (1 1/4 lb), halved lengthwise and pitted

For the cake:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 large eggs at room temperature for 30 minutes
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
Special equipment: a 10-inch well-seasoned cast-iron or heavy nonstick skillet (at least 2 inches deep)

Preheat oven to 375°F. 

Make topping:

Heat butter in skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides. Reduce heat to low and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter, then cook, undisturbed, 3 minutes (not all of sugar will be melted).
A personal note here: you can leave the sugar mixture in the skillet and add the apricot halves as indicated or take a spatula and scrape the mixture into a lightly buttered baking dish with higher sides and add the apricots then.
Remove skillet from heat and arrange apricot halves, cut sides down, close together on top of brown sugar. 

Make cake batter:
 Sift together flour, baking powder and soda, and salt into a small bowl. Beat the butter, sugar, and extracts in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes in a standing mixer or 3 to 4 minutes with a handheld. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then beat until mixture is creamy and doubled in volume, 2 to 3 minutes. 

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, and beat just until combined. Gently spoon batter over apricots and spread evenly. 
Bake cake in middle of oven until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. 

Wearing oven mitts, immediately invert a large plate over skillet and, keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together, invert cake onto plate. Carefully lift skillet off cake and, if necessary, replace any fruit that is stuck to bottom of skillet. Cool to warm or room temperature. 


  1. I love apricots!
    In my last summer we had a lot of apricots of my trees and made jam that still I have.
    I will save this recipe for my nect summer!
    Look delicious!

  2. This is such a pretty cake! And, yes, I do love the sticky, gooey caramel on upside down cakes. I'm going to remember that tip about the foil on a baking sheet next time.

  3. My mom loved upside downs..I bet this would have become a fave!So many things I would make for her!

  4. I am a fan of upside down cakes! This looks really moist and beautiful, Barbara.

  5. Very pretty Barbara. I'm not sure I've ever eaten a fresh apricot. Funny when things run over in the oven. You should see my big bold warnings written in cookbooks to prevent it from happening again.

  6. I don't even think I've ever had a fresh apricot!!

  7. I know the burning smell....and I know the fear of biting into a mealy apricot. But, this cake looks great. I now buy 1 or 2 apricots and take them home, If they taste good, I go back immediately for more. It works though inconvenient at times. Peaches can do the same. It is hard to find good peaches anymore.

  8. I absolutely love upside down cakes! This looks SO good!

  9. You're a woman after my own heart, Barbara --- this looks like HEAVEN to me!

  10. I've never tried to buy fresh apricots for that very reason, but I love pineapple upside down cake dearly, so this is VERY tempting...

  11. This looks positively delicious, Barbara! I've been making fruit based desserts lately and am putting this at the top of the list - thanks so much for sharing & hope you're having an amazing Summer:)

  12. First of all, the Lemon Semifreddo you shared was a huge hit at our gourmet group dinner party last night! So delicious! I assigned the recipe to one of the couples in our group and they nailed it! They added a splash of amaretto to some seasonal berries and it was the perfect garnish to a great recipe. Secondly, I had bought over a dozen fresh apricots that I thought I was going to use in a recipe and decided on other stone fruit instead. This fresh apricot upside down cake will be the perfect way to use them! Thanks again, Barbara!

  13. Great recipe Barbara. Upside down cakes bring back so many recipes from my childhood. My Aunt Pat's Pineapple Upside Down Cake was featured at all of our holiday get togethers. I know I would love this.

  14. Looks delicious! A wonderfully seasonal bake.



  15. This looks so good and it will be a change from my usual upside down Tarte aux Fruits (Fruit Tart). Any substitution for buttermilk? It is not a common item in France and I would sooo much like to bake this cake when I get back. Thank you

    1. Thanks, Nini. It's a lovely cake.
      Here's a webpage that will give you several solutions to replace buttermilk in a recipe:

  16. I love upside down cakes they remind me of my childhood. This one is perfect Barbara!

  17. My husband absolutely loves apricots, will be preparing this for him. Lovely pics!

  18. mega moist! ah, the risks we run when selecting fresh fruit. i've never eaten a fresh apricot, but i'm sure biting into a mealy one would be devastating!

  19. That's just so pretty and I'm betting yummy.

    Love it!



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