Kid-friendly Upside-Down Apple Toffee Cakes + Caramelized Chunky Applesauce + Caramel Apple Cider Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Family Meal Plan: Upside-Down Apple Toffee Cakes + Caramelized Chunky Applesauce + Caramel Apple Cider

Family Meal Plan: Upside-Down Apple Toffee Cakes + Caramelized Chunky Applesauce + Caramel Apple Cider

Upside-Down Apple Toffee Cakes + Caramelized Chunky Applesauce + Caramel Apple Cider

by Dylan Sabuco
Photo by EasterBunny/
prep time
20 minutes
cook time
24 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Upside-Down Apple Toffee Cakes

Apple cakes are more than just a delicious dessert. They are a culinary staple found all over the world, particularly in regions where apples are grown. And they are as varied as they are delicious! For example, Polish apple cake features a shortcrust pastry base and a filling made of cooked apples and cinnamon. German apple cake boasts a crumbly streusel topping. American apple cake is often made with grated apples, cinnamon, and sometimes walnuts or raisins. But the one that steals our hearts and taste buds is the one with juicy chunks of apples, warm spices, and notes of rich, sweet toffee!

Toffee dates back to early 19th century England or Wales where toffee candies were a beloved sweet of the working class. Since then, variations of British toffee have spread to other countries, including the United States, Sweden, India, and South Africa. Toffee continues to be enjoyed in various ways—as a standalone candy, a topping for ice cream, or a primary ingredient in desserts like Upside-Down Apple Toffee Cakes!  

And you know what makes this recipe even more fabulous? It yields a whole batch of adorable little cakes, perfect for sharing with the people you love!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Shopping List

  • 3 large Granny Smith apples
  • EGGS
  • 1 egg **(for EGG ALLERGY sub 1/4 C applesauce)**
  • 2 C all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour)**
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 3 C apple juice
  • Paper cupcake liners
  • 1 C water

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • bake :

    to cook food with dry heat, as in an oven.

  • boil :

    to cook a food in liquid heated to the point of gas bubbles and steam forming (boiling point is 212 F at sea level).

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • combine :

    to merge two or more ingredients into one mixture, like a batter of flour, eggs, and milk.

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • pour :

    to cause liquid, granules, or powder to stream from one container into another.

  • scoop :

    to pick up an amount of food with a utensil to move it to a dish, pan, or container; utensils that can be used to scoop are spoons, dishers (small scoops used for cookie dough or melon balls), ice cream scoops, or large transfer scoops for bulk foods.

  • simmer :

    to cook a food gently, usually in a liquid, until softened.

  • smash :

    to break up food into smaller pieces or squash food to flatten or soften it.

  • stir :

    to mix together two or more ingredients with a spoon or spatula, usually in a circle pattern, or figure eight, or in whatever direction you like!

Equipment Checklist

  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Wooden spoon
  • Oven
  • Muffin pan
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Whisk
  • Large saucepan


Upside-Down Apple Toffee Cakes

  • 1 large Granny Smith apple
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 C all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour)**
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg **(for EGG ALLERGY sub 1/4 C applesauce)**
  • 1 C water
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • paper cupcake liners

Caramelized Chunky Applesauce

  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Caramel Apple Cider

  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 3 C apple juice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick

Food Allergen Substitutions

Upside-Down Apple Toffee Cakes

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour for all-purpose flour.
  • Egg: For 1 egg, substitute 1/4 C applesauce.


Upside-Down Apple Toffee Cakes

chop + reserve

Dice 1 Granny Smith apple. The apples will need to soften a tiny bit before you use them in the batter. Place the diced apple in a bowl and add 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir a few times and set aside. As the apples sit with the sugar and salt, they will become juicy and slightly softened.

measure + mix

In a separate bowl, measure and add 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Mix all the dry ingredients together.

measure + whisk

In a liquid measuring cup, measure 1 cup water, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and then crack 1 egg into the cup. Whisk all the wet ingredients until smooth.

preheat + combine

Preheat your oven to 350 F. While the oven preheats, pour all the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients bowl. Whisk to combine.

scoop + bake

Place 12 cupcake liners into a muffin pan. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the apple mixture into the cupcake liners. Then, pour 1/4 cup scoops of cake batter over the apples. Place the muffin pan in the oven and bake for 14 minutes.

cool + smell + enjoy

Remove the cakes from the oven and cool for about 5 minutes. Peel away the cupcake liners and turn the cakes over onto your plates. Take a moment to smell your glistening and gooey Upside-Down Apple Toffee Cakes before you dig in and enjoy.

Caramelized Chunky Applesauce

dice + measure

Start by dicing **2 Granny Smith apples. (It is your choice whether you want to peel the apple or not). Place the chopped apples into a bowl with 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

combine + smash

Stir using a wooden spoon until well combined. Then, switch gears and start smashing the apples until the apples start to become a chunky applesauce.

taste + season

Taste the applesauce to check for the flavor. It may need a bit more sugar depending on the tartness of your apples. Adjust the flavor to your liking by adding a pinch more sugar or cinnamon before serving alongside the Upside-Down Apple Toffee Cakes!

Caramel Apple Cider

combine + simmer

In a large saucepan, combine 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Turn the heat to medium low and bring the sugar to a simmer. In 5 minutes or less the sugar will melt and become caramel.

reduce + boil

Reduce the heat to low and slowly pour in 3 cups of apple juice. Stir gently to combine. Then, bring the mixture to a boil for 5 minutes. Turn the heat completely off and allow the mixture to cool before serving.

Surprise Ingredient: Apples!

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Photo by Bozhin Karaivanov on Unsplash

Hi! I'm Apple!

"I'm delighted to be part of your recipe! Not only does "an apple a day keep the doctor away," but I'm also versatile and delicious in both sweet and savory dishes, like pies, cakes, breads, salads, and casseroles, and added to vegetables and roasted meats. Not to brag, but I have a fabulous, round(ish) figure and come in several colors and varieties of sweet and tart flavors!"


  • Here's a story about the Granny Smith apple that is long but cute: In the year 1868, near Sydney, Australia, a grandma named Marie Smith had been testing different types of French crabapples for cooking, and she ended up throwing the used apple cores out her window as she worked. Granny Smith saw that a new apple tree (or cultivar) had sprung up below her kitchen windowsill. She cultivated the tree and found that the apples it produced were good for cooking and eating. They were tart, sweet, and crisp. Grandma Marie Smith took a stall at a farmer's market in Sydney, where her apples stored exceptionally well and became very popular. She sold her apples once a week and called them Granny Smith's Apples. Smart (and enterprising) fruit merchants in the 1890s and 1900s experimented with methods to transport the Granny Smith apples overseas in cold storage. Because of its excellent shelf life, they could export the Granny Smith apple long distances and most times of the year. Since growing fruit from the seeds of the Granny Smith apple produces trees with fruit that isn't as good as the original, grafting or cuttings are required instead. All Granny Smith apples grown today are from grafts of Grandma Marie Smith's original tree in Sydney.
  • Apple trees were domesticated thousands of years ago. A wild apple native to the mountains of southern Kazakhstan in Central Asia is considered the ancestor of most domestic apple varieties.
  • Worldwide, 7,500 varieties of apples are grown! If just 12 kids were growing that many, each of them would end up with 625 different kinds! 
  • Apples are victims of (or blessed by, depending on how you look at it) their own genetic creativity. An apple from a tree grown from a seed will be nothing like its parents. And because of this, historically, thousands upon thousands of varieties of apples have come into existence. Apples have evolved to adapt to all environments. They can be grown all over the world. Now, the number of apple varieties is much more narrow due to farming practices and consumers' desire for the "perfect red apple." The only way to ensure genetic repeats of apples is to "graft" the trees.
  • Grafting apple trees involves combining a bottom rootstock of one tree to the scion, or budding branch, of another tree to grow a new successful apple tree.

Anatomy & Etymology

  • Apples come in all shades of reds, greens, and yellows. They are members of the Rose family. Other members include strawberries, pears, plums, peaches, and raspberries.
  • Every spring, apple trees bloom or flower. At the bottom and inside each blossom is an ovule. Inside the ovule are the seeds that will eventually turn into an apple! It takes about 4 to 5 months from the time the blossoms are pollinated for the apples to be ready to pick.
  • New apple trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit!
  • A raw apple can contain 86 percent water! 
  • If you put an apple in water, do you think it will sink or float? It will float! That's because about 25 percent of an apple's volume is air. And that's why you can play a game of "bobbing for apples" at Halloween parties!
  • An apple tree can grow to more than forty feet and live over a hundred years!
  • A Japanese farmer picked the heaviest apple on record in 2005. It weighed 4.1 pounds! 
  • The word "apple" came from the Old English "æppel," which is Germanic in origin. Until the 17th century, "apple" could refer generically to any nut or fruit other than berries. 

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • August marks the beginning of apple season. Apple season peaks in September—some of the most delicious apple varieties are available then: the Honeycrisp (our fave!), Cortland, Macintosh, and Gala. October apples are perfect for baking. 
  • Apples are picked by hand when it's time to harvest them. Choose apples that have smooth skin and are free from blemishes. They should feel heavy for their size and feel firm. Then, give it a sniff—fresh apples smell almost floral-like and super pleasant.
  • It is so fun to go to an orchard in the fall and pick apples for yourself. Of course, apples are available year-round in most grocery stores and are most affordable during the months when they're in season (August through October).
  • Farmers often use honeybees to pollinate apple trees.
  • You can eat apples in so many ways. Try dicing half an apple and adding it to a spinach salad with walnuts or pecans, red onion, and goat cheese. Stuff and bake them for a cozy autumn treat. You can juice, blend, or grind apples to make juice, cider, or smoothies. Slice, chop, or mash them and add them to a variety of apple treats: pie, strudel, cake, donuts, tortes, turnovers, dumplings, galettes, fritters, muffins, and crisps or crumbles. You can thinly slice and dehydrate apples to make chips or cook and mash them to make applesauce, adding a dash of cinnamon for extra flavor. Apple marries beautifully with a ton of different sweet AND savory foods like fennel, cheddar, caramel, cinnamon, butternut squash, rooibos, sauerkraut, and sausage.    


  • "An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away." This saying originated because people believed fruits were important to a nutritious diet. A 2015 study found that people who ate an apple a day took fewer prescriptions. 
  • Red Delicious and Fuji apples contain the most polyphenols, micronutrients found naturally in plants with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They can help prevent heart disease, control blood sugar, lower cancer risk, and help your immune system function properly. More polyphenols are found in an apple's peel than its flesh, so be sure to eat the peel, which will also add to your fiber intake!
  • Isn't it amazing to think that our bodies are hard at work keeping us strong and healthy while we go about our daily activities? Think of it: just now, your body is pumping blood through your veins and arteries, delivering nutrients to your cells to create energy, building proteins to protect you from getting sick, and so much more. That's why it's so important to eat nutritious foods, like apples!


History of Upside-Down Cake!

Photo by MW Photography/Adobe Stock
  • The concept of baking a cake upside down began centuries ago, and those first upside-down cakes were cooked in cast iron skillets. 
  • It was easy for home cooks to add fruit and sugar to the bottom of the skillet with a simple cake batter on top, then place the skillet over the cook fire. They would then flip the cake over onto a plate, displaying the delicious fruit with its juice seeping into the cake. 
  • The story goes that homemakers could use this upside-down technique because several other pantry items had been developed, giving them time to make a pretty and delicious cake.
  • Traditional Upside-Down Cakes include the American Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, French Tarte Tatin, and Brazilian Bolo de Banana.

Let's Learn About the United States!

Photo by JeniFoto/ (July 4th Picnic)
  • Most of the United States of America (USA) is in North America. It shares its northern border with Canada and its southern border with Mexico. It consists of 50 states, 1 federal district, 5 territories, 9 Minor Outlying Islands, and 326 Indian reservations. 
  • The country's total area is 3,796,742 square miles, globally the third largest after Russia and Canada. The US population is over 333 million, making it the third most populous country in the world, after China and India.
  • The United States of America declared itself an independent nation from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, by issuing the Declaration of Independence.
  • The Revolutionary War between the US and Great Britain was fought from 1775-1783. We only had 13 colonies at that time! On September 9, 1976, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and declared that the new nation would be called the United States. 
  • The 13 colonies became states after each ratified the constitution of the new United States, with Delaware being the first on December 7, 1787.  
  • The 13 stripes on the US flag represent those first 13 colonies, and the 50 stars represent our 50 states. The red color of the flag symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes innocence and purity, and blue symbolizes vigilance and justice.
  • Before settling in Washington DC, a federal district, the nation's capital resided in New York City and then Philadelphia for a short time. New York City is the largest city in the US and is considered its financial center. 
  • The US does not have a recognized official language! However, English is effectively the national language. 
  • The American dollar is the national currency. The nickname for a dollar, "buck," comes from colonial times when people traded goods for buckskins!
  • Because the United States is so large, there is a wide variety of climates and types of geography. The Mississippi/Missouri River, running primarily north to south, is the fourth-longest river system in the world. On the east side of the Mississippi are the Appalachian Mountains, the Adirondack Mountains, and the East Coast, next to the Atlantic Ocean. 
  • On the west side of the Mississippi are the flat Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains (or Rockies), and the West Coast, next to the Pacific Ocean, with several more mountain ranges in coastal states, such as the Sierras and the Cascades. Between the coasts and the north and south borders are several forests, lakes (including the Great Lakes), rivers, swamps, deserts, and volcanos. 
  • Several animals are unique to the US, such as the American bison (or American buffalo), the bald eagle, the California condor, the American black bear, the groundhog, the American alligator, and the pronghorn (or American antelope). 
  • The US has 63 national parks. The Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, and the Grand Canyon, with the Colorado River flowing through it, are among the most well-known and visited.
  • Cuisine in the US was influenced early on by the indigenous people of North America who lived there before Europeans arrived. They introduced beans, corn, potatoes, squash, berries, fish, turkey, venison, dried meats, and more to the new settlers. Other influences include the widely varied foods and dishes of enslaved people from Africa and immigrants from Asia, Europe, Central and South America, and the Pacific Islands. 

What's It Like to Be a Kid in the United States?

  • Education is compulsory in the US, and kids may go to a public or private school or be home-schooled. Most schools do not require students to wear uniforms, but some private schools do. The school year runs from mid-August or the beginning of September to the end of May or the middle of June.
  • Kids generally start school at about five years old in kindergarten or earlier in preschool and continue through 12th grade in high school. After that, many go on to university, community college, or technical school. 
  • Spanish, French, and German are the most popular foreign languages kids learn in US schools. 
  • Kids may participate in many different school and after-school sports, including baseball, soccer, American football, basketball, volleyball, tennis, swimming, and track and field. In grade school, kids may join in playground games like hopscotch, four-square, kickball, tetherball, jump rope, or tag.
  • There are several fun activities that American kids enjoy doing with their friends and families, such as picnicking, hiking, going to the beach or swimming, or going to children's and natural history museums, zoos and wild animal parks, amusement parks, water parks, state parks, or national parks. Popular amusement parks include Disneyland, Disney World, Legoland, Six Flags, and Universal Studios.
  • On Independence Day or the 4th of July, kids enjoy a day off from school, picnicking, and watching fireworks with their families. 
  • Thanksgiving is celebrated on the last Thursday in November when students get 2 to 5 days off school. Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa are popular December holidays, and there are 2 or 3 weeks of winter vacation. Easter is celebrated in March, April, or May, and kids enjoy a week of spring recess around that time.  
  • Barbecued hot dogs or hamburgers, watermelon, apple pie, and ice cream are popular kid foods for 4th of July celebrations. Turkey, dressing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie are traditional Thanksgiving foods. Birthday parties with cake and ice cream are very important celebrations for kids in the United States!

Lettuce Joke Around

What do you call a good cake? 

An angel cake.

THYME for a Laugh

What did the cherry give to the chocolate cake on Valentine’s Day? 


That's Berry Funny

What kind of apple has a short temper? 

A crab apple!

THYME for a Laugh

Which cake do baseball players like most? 

Bundt cake.

THYME for a Laugh

Which cakes are the saddest? 

Wedding cakes because they often end up in tiers.

That's Berry Funny

Why did the students eat their homework? 

Because the teacher said that it was a piece of cake.

THYME for a Laugh

Why do we put candles on top of a birthday cake? 

Because it’s too hard to put them on the bottom!

Lettuce Joke Around

Why did the apple cry? 

Its peelings were hurt!

That's Berry Funny

Why did the cake go to the doctor? 

Because it was feeling crumby.

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