This exceptional Pecan Upside Down Cake is a perfect dessert for Fall or Thanksgiving; the excellent harmony of moist yogurt cake as the base and caramelised pecan topping! The cake can be made in any pan you have, even in a Bundt pan to turn it into a festive Pecan Upside Down Bundt cake for Thanksgiving!
📖 What is Upside Down Cake
As the name suggests, an upside-down cake is a cake that is baked upside-down. Unlike regular cakes, the upside-down cake is made by preparing a layer of fruits or nuts in the base of the cake pan and pouring the cake butter over it.
After the baking process, the pan is flipped over and you will see the fruits or nuts which were at the bottom of the pan before baking, now turning into a topping (upside of the cake). Therefore, this cake is called "upside-down". Why not try also my Caramelized banana upside down cake?
🌟 Why this is the best recipe
- It's easy- A unique dessert might sound intimidating when you're baking for the first time. But don´t worry, this beginner-friendly upside-down cake recipe and you will be able to follow this detailed guide easily!
- It's quick - Baking takes time. However, the preparation process of this Pecan cake is really minimal and you can simply skip the post-baking decorating process because the topping is the decoration itself.
- From-scratch recipe- A pecan upside down cake with yellow cake mix might sound simpler. However, that might not give you the best taste. This guide will tell you how to easily make a moist, delicious cake from scratch that tastes so much better than the box vanilla cake!
- It's so delicious- It probably tastes the same, if not better than pecan pies or pecan bundt cakes. The moist, tender yogurt cake topped with caramelized buttery pecans makes impressive flavors together. It's a wonderful treat for the Fall season!
- No fancy equipment - All you need is regular home-baking tools!
- It's versatile - You can get creative and modify the flavor of the cake! You can add some of your favorite spices or even add some citrus zest to the cake butter! Or, swap pecans with other nuts!
📝 Ingredient notes
For the Cake
Prepare these ingredients and use a digital scale to measure them.
- Butter - Butter will bring a rich, creamy flavor to this caramel pecan upside down cake! Remember to only use unsalted butter for cake recipes so you can control the saltiness easily! You can use any brand but I prefer using the one with 82% fat content. Make sure that the butter is soft, but not melted.
- Flour - Use all-purpose flour. However, if you have cake flour at home, you can use it instead. This will make a soft, tender cake. You can also use self-raising flour if you have one. If you want to learn different kinds of flour, do check out my flour guide.
- Sugar - Use a mix of granulated sugar and light brown sugar. If you want to learn more about different kinds of sugar for baking, please check my sugar guide.
- Vanilla - This brings a beautiful flavor to this cake! Use only pure vanilla, not artificial ones.
- Eggs - Please only use room-temperature eggs to help the emulsification process.
- Yogurt - Use thick, full-fat Greek yogurt or Turkish-style yogurt. If you don't have any, you can use sour cream instead. Make sure that the yogurt is at room temperature before mixing it in.
- Milk- Use whole milk at room temperature
- Baking powder - This is a leavening agent which is responsible to help the cake rise properly. Make sure it's not expired and it's not too much in amount as those can lead to a sunken cake instead. If you opt for self-raising flour instead of plain flour, be sure to skip the baking powder.
- Salt - A popular ingredient in various food recipes, including cake recipes! Add a little amount of salt to balance the flavor of this Pecan upside down cake.
🛒 You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the Recipe Card at the bottom of this post
For the Pecan topping
- Pecan - This recipe is called "pecan upside down cake" due to this very ingredient. Of course, you can substitute it with other nuts eg. walnut, check my pecans vs walnuts article for more information.
- Sugar - You can use either regular white granulated sugar or brown sugar. You can also mix them to make a sweet, caramelly combo.
- Butter - Use unsalted butter
🛒 You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the Recipe Card at the bottom of this post
👩🍳 How to make this recipe
1. Step-by-step process
First of all, preheat your oven to 175 C/ 347 F (no fan).
Then, gather all the ingredients and make sure that they're all at room temperature. Measure the ingredients using the digital kitchen scale to ensure accuracy. Next, follow these steps:
- Prepare your baking pan. Line it with parchment paper so you can take out the cake easily after baking.
- Grab and measure the pecans and lay them at the bottom of the baking pan.
- Using a small pot, melt together the sugar and butter over low-medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, whisking it by hand occasionally to avoid separating the butter. Once finished, pour mixture over pecans and set pan aside.
- Grab a mixing bowl and an electric hand mixer. Cream together soft butter and sugar for a few minutes until fluffy.
- Add vanilla to the mixture.
- Add the eggs to the mixture and whip it with your electric hand mixer.
- Grab a new bowl to sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Let's call them the "dry ingredients".
- Using another bowl, combine the room temp yogurt and milk. Let's call this mixture the "wet ingredients".
- Using a rubber spatula, fold the wet and dry ingredients into the butter-egg mixture in the following order: wet, dry, wet, dry.
- Finally, pour the cake batter into the cake pan (over the pecan mixture).
💡 Top Tip: In baking, cold ingredients don't incorporate easily. So, make sure that all ingredients are at room temperature, including the milk and eggs before mixing them.
2. How to bake
Before the actual baking process of this Pecan pie upside down cake, make sure that the oven temperature has achieved the required temperature. For this purpose, use a digital oven thermometer to inspect the oven's internal temperature.
Next, follow these steps:
- Bake the cake batter at 175 C/347 F (no fan) for 1 hour.
- During the final minutes, check if the cake has nicely risen. Also, use a toothpick to check the interior of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean after you inserted it into the middle of the cake, take out the cake immediately.
- Let the cake cool the way it is. Don't bother flipping it or removing it from the pan.
- After the cake cooled, grab a serving plate and use it to flip over the cake. Then, remove the cake tin.
- Place a plate that is just 1 inch / 2cm smaller than the cake on top of the cake and dust the edges with powdered sugar
- You can keep the cake at room temperature for 2-3 days.
💡 Top Tip: The cake might break if you flip it over while it is still hot so make sure you wait until it comes to room temperature
🥜 Flavor variations
This Pecan upside down cake tastes incredible as-is! However, you can get creative and change some ingredients to make this recipe more suitable to your family's preference!
There are some flavor variations that you can try, consider these ideas:
- cinnamon powder
- anise powder
- cardamom powder
- citrus zest
- almond extract or ground almond
To modify the flavor, you can simply add any of those ingredients to the cake batter. For example, if you want the cake to taste more vibrant, you can add citrus zest to the batter during the final mixing process.
Besides the cake flavor, you can also modify the topping. You can use other nuts or other fruits.
Some topping ideas:
- mixed berries
You can even mix nuts and fruits to make a fantastic topping. For example, you can make Walnut pineapple upside down cake, Apricot almond upside down cake, Maple pecan upside-down cake, or even Coconut pecan upside down cake!
Or, why not drizzle the cake with a spoonful of delicious homemade pecan butter?
🥣 Equipment Notes
First, you will need a digital kitchen scale to measure the ingredients precisely. Preparing the caramel involves a hand whisk to help you combine melted butter and sugar. Then, you will need an electric hand mixer for whipping the eggs and creaming the sugar and butter. You will also need a rubber spatula to carefully mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients to avoid overmixing. Then, pour the cake into the cake pan. Here, an 8-inch/20 cm spring form will be required.
The actual baking process will obviously involve an oven. However, before baking the cake, remember to check the oven temperature using a digital oven thermometer. Yes, it's recommended to be on the safer side because sometimes there is some difference between the actual oven's temperature with the number displayed on the oven screen.
After the baking process, you can use a cooling rack to let the cake cool down before flipping it and serving it.
🎓 Expert tips
- Before jumping into the mixing process, make sure that all ingredients, including the eggs are at room temperature so emulsification can happens properly.
- Be careful during the caramelization process. Don't overheat as it can make the sugar and butter separate
- Removing upside-down cake can be a little bit messy without correct cake prepration. To avoid this, layer the cake pan with some parchment paper, at the bottom and side.
- The approximate baking time is 1 hour. However, instead of watching your clock, focus on the texture. If the cake has risen and looks baked, try to insert a toothpick into the middle of the cake. If the toothpick must come out clean, your cake should be ready.
- You can adjust the flavor to your liking! Add some citrus zest or spice powder to the cake batter for a more incredible flavor! You can also modify the caramel pecan topping with other nuts or even fruits!
As the name suggests, an upside-down cake is a cake that is baked upside-down. Unlike regular cakes, the upside-down cake is made by preparing a layer of fruits or nuts in the base of the cake pan and pouring the cake butter over it. After the baking process, the pan is flipped over and you will see the fruits or nuts which were at the bottom of the pan before baking, now turning into a topping (upside of the cake). Therefore, this cake is called "upside-down".
Yes, it has to be completely cooled before removing it from the pan otherwise it might break. Let the cake cool in the pan for 2-3 hours at room temperature or 1 hour in the fridge, then flip it onto a plate.
Grease your pan and line it with parchment paper before using it.
Carefully open the oven door and insert a toothpick into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, your cake is ready.
Like with most cakes, it is best served fresh however, it's still possible to make an upside-down cake the day before, and serve it later.
Replace about ⅕ of the flour (50g) with unsweetened cocoa powder. You can even use some chocolate chips in the cake batter!
In fact, it is super easy! Use the same recipe and replace the round baking tin with your favorite Bundt tin.
You can comfortably store this upside down cake at room temperature (covered) for 2-3 days and it will stay fresh.
Wait for the cake to completely cool down. Then, wrap it with plastic wrap and foil before freezing it for 2-3 months.
🍰 More Cake Recipes
Pecan Upside Down Cake (VIDEO)
For the Cake
- 150 g (⅔ cups) Unsalted butter 82% fat, room temperature (soft)
- 200 g (1 cups) Granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 2 Eggs room temperature
- 110 g (½ cups) Yogurt thick full fat Greek or Turkish style yogurt at room temperature
- 45 g (⅕ cups) Whole milk room temperature
- 240 g (2 cups) All purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon Baking powder
- ½ teaspoon Salt
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- Place pecans on the bottom of the baking pan
- Heat sugar and butter and cook for 1-2 minutes over low-medium heat mixing it with a hand whisk to avoid butter separating, then pour it over the pecans and set the pan aside
- Prepare the cake by creaming soft butter and sugar with an Electric hand mixer for a good 3-5 minutes until fluffy, then add in vanilla
- Whip room temp eggs into the mixture very slowly while your Electric hand mixer is still on
- Sift dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder and salt
- Mix room temperature yogurt and room temperature milk together for a few seconds, this will be your wet ingredients
- Switch to a Rubber spatula and fold the dry ingredients and wet ingredients into the mixture in 4 steps: wet, dry, wet, dry
- Pour cake batter on top of the caramel pecan layer
- Bake the cake for 1h at 175 C / 347 F (no fan). The cake is ready when it has a nice rise and when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean
- Let the cake fully cool before flipping it over and removing the tin
- Store at room temperature for 2-3 days
- Use always unsalted butter in baking and add the salt separately
- All ingredients must be at room temperature to properly emulsify: eggs, butter, yogurt, milk, etc.
- Feel free to substitute pecans with walnuts
- Digital scale is required for a consistent, happy baking experience
- Worth to use parchment paper on the bottom and side as well of your pan so you can easier remove the cake when turning it upside down
- Mixing the cake batter is super quick and straightforward however please follow the recipe in regards to 1. every ingredient should be at room temperature 2. whisk butter and sugar until fluffy then slowly add the egg in o the mixture 3. remaining wet and dry ingredients should be added to the mixture in 4 steps: wet, dry, wet, dry using a spatula. Do not use a mixer at that point
- When melting the butter and sugar, make sure not to over-heat the mixture as the butter would separate in that case. You can save it by using a whisk and try to emulsify them back together
- Always pre-heat your oven and consider using a digital oven thermometer for the best results
- Baking will take a relatively long time (1 hour in my oven). Focus on the texture, not the time, and apply the toothpick check (it should come out clean) to avoid raw cake