Pecan Pie Upside-Down Cake
It’s easy to understand why there’s so much love and nostalgia for upside-down cakes. They’re absolutely scrumptious but as easy to make as a coffee cake, and it’s always fun to flip them over and see what the top looks like — a reveal that never gets old.
In the test kitchen, we’ve baked both pineapple and citrus upside-down cakes, and we love how the fruit and brown sugar caramelize in the oven, a sweet-tart complement to the cake. And yet, what’s fun about this seasonal pecan pie remix is that it’s not that — nor is it as sweet as the classic pie. It’s the perfect balance of crunchy pecans, buttery caramel, and fluffy cake.
The cake is made with oil, rather than creamed butter, so it comes together fast. Thanks to some sour cream, it’s moist and tangy, the perfect foil for all the nutty-sweet pecan goodness. Speaking of: even if you make the cake ahead, be sure to flip it before it cools completely so that gooey caramel can soak into the cake.
Pecan pie upside-down cake makes a beautiful finish for a holiday meal. Serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a cup of strong coffee. Now, that’s contentment!
Pecan Pie Upside-Down Cake
Preheat the oven to 350º. Cut a piece of parchment paper into a circle 11” in diameter. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9” cake pan with butter. Press the parchment circle into the bottom and up the sides of the pan and grease the parchment. Set aside.
To make the caramel-pecan topping: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the brown sugar, light corn syrup, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, 2 minutes. Stir in the pecans and cook for 2 minutes more.
Remove the pecan caramel from the heat. Transfer it to the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Set aside.
To make the cake: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract on medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Reduce the speed to low and slowly drizzle in the oil. Mix until combined.
Add the sour cream and milk and mix until fully incorporated. Sift in the dry ingredients and mix on medium-low speed until the batter is smooth and lump free, about 1 minute.
Slowly drizzle the batter over the pecans in a circular motion. This will prevent the pecan caramel from being displaced by the batter. Spread the batter evenly.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If the top of the cake is browning too quickly, loosely tent it with aluminum foil.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Gently run a butter knife along the edges of the cake. Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes before flipping it onto a plate.
Scoop any pecans that do not adhere to the cake back on top. Garnish with flake salt and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Recipe adapted from: Fig and Olive Platter