Lemon Upside Down Cake Recipe: A Zesty Citrus Surprise

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Best Lemon Upside Down Cake Recipe
Indulge in the sweet magic of Upside Down Cake, where caramelized fruit takes center stage atop a moist and flavorful cake.

Welcome Lemon Upside Down Cake, a citrus-infused delight that transforms the ordinary into an extraordinary experience for your taste buds. This cake is not just a dessert; it’s a journey through layers of flavor and texture that promise to brighten your palate with a burst of zesty freshness.

The visual appeal of this lemon upside down cake is a prelude to the delightful experience awaiting you. As you gaze upon the golden-brown caramelized top adorned with luscious lemon slices, the anticipation builds for the citrusy symphony that is about to unfold on your plate. It’s a culinary canvas where the vibrant hues hint at the tangy and sweet notes that will dance across your taste buds.

With the first forkful, you embark on a journey through a landscape of textures and tastes. The soft, moist crumb infused with the essence of fresh lemons offers a delightful contrast to the caramelized layer beneath. Each bite is a celebration of the harmonious marriage between the sweetness of the cake and the tartness of the lemons, creating a sensory experience that is both comforting and invigorating.

Beyond its deliciousness, this Lemon Upside Down Cake tells a story of culinary craftsmanship. It’s a testament to the artistry of baking, where simple ingredients are transformed into a decadent treat that brings joy to every bite. So, as you indulge in this citrus masterpiece, may its flavors transport you to a place where the essence of lemons becomes a celebration of both simplicity and sophistication in the world of desserts.

What is Upside Down Cake?

Upside down cake is a delightful dessert that turns the traditional baking approach on its head. In this sweet creation, fruit and sugar take center stage at the bottom of the pan before being covered with a layer of cake batter. Once baked to perfection, the cake is flipped, revealing a beautifully caramelized top.

A classic example is the Pineapple Upside Down Cake, where pineapple slices and cherries grace the bottom of the pan. This inventive method enhances both presentation and flavor as the fruit juices seep into the cake during baking, creating a moist and flavorful texture. Upside down cakes, much like Lemon Loaf Cake, offer a delightful twist on traditional desserts, celebrating the natural sweetness of fruits and providing a visually appealing treat when served with the beautifully caramelized side facing up.

Regular Cakes v/s Upside Down Cakes

FeatureRegular CakeUpside Down Cake
Layer ArrangementBatter is poured into the pan first.Fruit and sugar are arranged at the bottom, topped with batter.
Baking ProcessBakes with the batter on top.Bakes with fruit and sugar on the bottom.
PresentationTop of the cake is visible when served.Bottom becomes the top after flipping, revealing a caramelized fruit layer.
Flavor InfusionLimited infusion as flavors remain within the batter.Enhanced flavor as fruit juices and caramelization seep into the cake during baking.
Popular VariationsVanilla, chocolate, red velvet, etc.Pineapple upside down, apple upside down, etc.
Visual AppealFrosted or decorated on top.Fruits and caramelized top create a visually appealing presentation.
Moisture ContentMoistness mainly from the batter.Moist and flavorful due to fruit juices and caramelization.
Serving StyleSliced from the top.Sliced from the bottom, with the caramelized side facing up.

Overview: How to make Lemon Upside Down Cake?

How to make Lemon Upside Down Cake - An Overview

Prepare to embark on a delightful culinary adventure with the Lemon Upside Down Cake, a charming twist on traditional desserts. The look will be different, but the taste will remind you of our (and hopefully yours too) favorite Lemon Loaf Cake.

Begin by meticulously arranging slices of the zesty lemons—on the bottom of a well-greased cake pan. Sprinkle a layer of sugar atop the fruit, which will transform into a rich caramel during baking. Next, pour a velvety cake batter over this fruity canvas, ensuring an even distribution. As the cake bakes, the magic happens—the fruit melds with the sugar, creating a luscious topping that will ultimately be revealed when the cake is inverted.

The result is a moist, flavorful masterpiece with a caramelized crown that captivates both the eyes and the palate. Whether enjoyed warm with a dollop of whipped cream or served at room temperature, the Lemon Upside Down Cake promises to be a delectable symphony of textures and tastes, showcasing the natural sweetness of fruit in every blissful bite.

Best Lemon Upside Down Cake Recipe

Indulge in the sweet magic of Upside Down Cake, where caramelized fruit takes center stage atop a moist and flavorful cake.
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Cooling Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Calories: 300kcal
Author: Austin Carter
Servings: 8


  • Mixing Bowls
  • 9-inch Round Cake Pans
  • Measuring Spoons and Cups
  • Whisk or Electric Hand Mixer
  • Oven and Oven Mitts
  • Parchment Paper
  • Cake Stand
  • Spatula
  • Cooling Rack
  • Saucepan
  • Cutting Board and Knife
  • Citrus Juicer


For the Topping:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2-3 medium-sized lemons thinly sliced

For the Cake Batter:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • Zest of 1 lemon


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Melt 1/2 cup of butter and pour it into the bottom of a greased 9-inch round cake pan.
  • Sprinkle 1 cup of sugar evenly over the melted butter.
  • Arrange the lemon slices over the sugar in a single layer.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a separate large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup of butter and 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, alternating with the milk. Mix until just combined.
  • Stir in the lemon zest.
  • Pour the cake batter over the arranged lemons in the pan, spreading it evenly.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes.
  • Invert the cake onto a serving plate, allowing the lemon topping to become the top of the cake.
  • Serve the Lemon Upside Down Cake slices warm or at room temperature.


  1. Thin Lemon Slices: Slice lemons thinly and arrange evenly for a visually pleasing and evenly caramelized topping.
  2. Cream Butter Well: Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy for a moist and tender cake texture.
  3. Even Batter Spread: Ensure an even spread of batter for consistent baking and a perfectly balanced lemon flavor throughout the cake.


Calories: 300kcal
Keyword lemon upside down cake, lemon upside down cake recipe, upside down cake


NutrientAmount per Serving
CaloriesAround 300-350 kcal
Total Fat15-20g
Saturated Fat8-10g
Total Carbohydrates40-50g
Dietary Fiber1-2g

Tips for Best Results!

  1. Room Temperature Ingredients: Ensure that ingredients like butter, eggs, and milk are at room temperature before starting. This promotes better incorporation of ingredients and a smoother batter.
  2. Zest Before Juicing: Zest the lemons before juicing them. This way, you can capture the aromatic oils in the zest without losing juice, maximizing the lemon flavor in your cake.
  3. Precision in Measuring: Accurate measurement of ingredients, especially flour, is crucial. Use leveled measuring cups for dry ingredients and a liquid measuring cup for liquids.
  4. Avoid Overmixing: Mix the batter until just combined. Overmixing can result in a dense cake. Stop mixing as soon as there are no visible streaks of flour.
  5. Grease and Line: Grease the cake pan thoroughly, and consider lining the bottom with parchment paper to ensure easy release after baking.
  6. Preheat the Oven: Allow the oven to fully preheat before placing the cake inside. Consistent temperature is key for even baking.
  7. Test for Doneness: Use a toothpick or cake tester to check for doneness. Insert it into the center; if it comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs (not wet batter), the cake is ready.
  8. Cooling Time: Allow the cake to cool in the pan for the specified time before inverting. This helps the caramelized topping set and prevents it from sticking.
  9. Fresh Lemons: Use fresh lemons for the best flavor. Freshly squeezed lemon juice and zest will enhance the citrusy notes in the cake.
  10. Serve at the Right Temperature: Lemon Upside Down Cake can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature. Consider warming individual slices briefly in the microwave if serving later for a delightful, just-baked experience.

Variations and Substitutions for Lemon Upside Down Cake


  1. Fruit Variations: Experiment with different fruits like oranges, berries, or a combination for a unique twist on the classic recipe.
  2. Nuts or Coconut: Add a layer of chopped nuts (such as almonds or pecans) or shredded coconut to the topping for added texture.
  3. Lemon Glaze: Drizzle a simple lemon glaze over the cooled cake for an extra burst of citrus flavor. Mix powdered sugar with lemon juice until you achieve your desired consistency.
  4. Lemon-Lime Twist: Combine lemon and lime slices in the topping for a citrusy fusion, giving your cake a vibrant flavor.


  1. Flour: Consider using whole wheat flour or a gluten-free flour blend for a different nutritional profile.
  2. Dairy-Free: Use plant-based alternatives such as almond milk or coconut milk in place of regular milk, and choose a plant-based butter substitute.
  3. Egg-Free: Replace each egg with alternatives like applesauce, mashed bananas, or yogurt for a vegan or egg-free version.
  4. Sugar Alternatives: Substitute granulated sugar with coconut sugar, honey, or maple syrup for a different sweetness profile.
  5. Butter Alternatives: Opt for healthier fats like olive oil or coconut oil as a substitute for butter.
  6. Gluten-Free: Use a gluten-free flour blend to make the cake suitable for those with gluten sensitivities.

Storing Lemon Upside Down Cake!

Tips to store Lemon Upside Down Cake

To ensure the best quality and freshness of your Lemon Upside Down Cake, follow these storage guidelines:

  1. Room Temperature: If you plan to consume the cake within 1-2 days, you can store it at room temperature. Keep it in an airtight container or cover it with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Ensure that the storage area is cool and away from direct sunlight.
  2. Refrigeration: For longer storage, especially in warmer climates, refrigerate the cake. Place it in an airtight container or cover it well with plastic wrap. The refrigerator helps slow down the staling process.
  3. Freezing: Lemon Upside Down Cake is freezer-friendly. Wrap individual slices or the whole cake tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. Label with the date and freeze for up to 2-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before serving.
  4. Avoid Odor Absorption: If refrigerating or freezing, ensure that the cake is well-wrapped to prevent it from absorbing any odors from the refrigerator or freezer.
  5. Room Temperature Before Serving: When ready to serve, allow refrigerated or frozen cake to come to room temperature for the best texture and flavor.

Always consider the specific recipe’s recommendations and adjust storage methods accordingly. Proper storage practices help maintain the quality of the lemon upside down cake over time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Can I use a different fruit in the upside down cake?

A: Yes, you can experiment with various fruits like apples, berries, or peaches for different flavor profiles.

Q2: How do I prevent the lemon upside down cake from sticking to the pan?

A: Ensure the pan is well-greased, and consider lining the bottom with parchment paper for easy release.

Q3: Can I make the cake in advance?

A: Yes, you can make it a day ahead and store it in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before serving.

Q4: What’s the best way to zest a lemon?

A: Use a fine grater or a zester to grate the outer peel of the lemon, avoiding the bitter white pith.

Q5: Can I use a different type of milk in the recipe?

A: Yes, you can use alternatives like almond milk or coconut milk, adjusting for any flavor differences.

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