You’ll love this easy pecan upside down cake recipe This Bundt cake has a rich and moist cream cheese, pound cake and buttery caramel pecan topping. It’s a classic southern recipe and uses a cake mix, though you’d never know it!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Top Reasons You’ll Love This Cake:
- Uses a cake mix
- Caramel pecan topping doesn’t have to be cooked
- Requires no fussy decorating
If you love pecan pie, this pecan upside cake is perfect for you! The caramel pecan topping is buttery, brown sugary, and absolutely delicious. It sits on top of a melt-in-your-mouth, cream cheese pound cake, with a simple (and optional) cream cheese glaze.
The cake is so moist, you’d never know it started with a cake mix! I prefer a white cake mix here, but feel free to use a yellow cake mix or butter pecan cake mix! The cake is rustic, and beautiful and doesn’t need anything extra to look beautiful.
- Butter. Room temperature butter goes in our cake mix to add great flavor making it tender and moist.
- Cream Cheese. Use full fat cream cheese to make this cake dense, moist, and tender.
- Vanilla. Vanilla extract goes in our cake batter and cream cheese glaze to give it that bakery flavor.
- Cake Mix. You’ll need a 15 ounce white cake mix, dry. I prefer Duncan Hines brand, but any brand will do. You can also use a yellow cake mix if you prefer.
- Pudding Mix. You’ll need 3.4 ounce box of dry vanilla pudding mix. Make sure it is instant pudding mix and not cook and serve.
- Flour. We add a little extra all-purpose flour to the cake batter to give it a little more body.
- Sugar. The cake requires a little extra sugar to be added to it. Use granulated, white sugar.
- Milk. We use milk for the liquid in our cake. I recommend using whole milk.
- Eggs. Use large eggs, these help bind the cake together.
- Brown Sugar. Light brown sugar goes into our caramel pecan topping.
- Corn Syrup. Light corn syrup makes the caramel pecan topping, gooey and caramely.
- Salt. A little bit of salt helps balance out the flavors in the caramel pecan topping.
- Pecans. Roughly chopped pecan halves go into the pecan topping.
- Powdered Sugar. Powdered sugar is used in the cream cheese icing.
How to Make this Recipe
- Make the caramel pecan topping. Mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup until combined. Then stir in the pecans. Set aside.
- Combine butter & cream cheese. In a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer (or you can use a stand mixer) cream together butter and cream cheese for 1-2 minutes until smooth and fluffy.
- Add eggs. Add in the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix until totally combined, it might look slightly curdled and that’s okay.
- Add pudding mix & milk. Add in the dry pudding mix and milk. Beat until smooth.
- Add dry ingredients. Add the dry cake mix and flour and mix until just barely combined. There should be not pockets of dry flour. Do not over mix.
- Layer in Bundt cake pan. Grease your Bundt cake pan generously. Spread the caramel pecan topping evenly across the bottom of the Bundt cake pan. Then spread the cake batter over top of the caramel pecan topping. Distribute the batter evenly.
- Bake. Bake the cake for 50-55 minutes. The cake should spring back when gently pushed on. A toothpick, when inserted, should have a few moist crumbs, but no wet batter.
- Invert. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes (set a timer!). Run a knife along the edge the cake to loosen it. Place your plate or cake board on top of the Bundt cake pan and invert it, flipping the cake on to the plate. Gently tap the Bundt cake pan until the cake is on the plate. If any of the pecan filling stuck to the pan, scoop it out with a spoon and replace it.
- Glaze it. Whisk together all the ingredients for the cream cheese glaze until it’s smooth. Microwave it for a few seconds if it is a little chunky, then whisk again. Drizzle it over the cooled cake.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Pineapple upside down cakes are the most popular version of upside down cakes. They became popular in the United States in the 1920s. Now, there are many versions of upside down cakes. They are care called upside down cakes because the cake is inverted and flipped onto a plate or platter. The bottom becomes the top, making it an “upside down” cake.
This pecan upside down cake needs to cool for 10 minutes before flipping. The cake will still be quite hot at this time. Waiting ten minutes gives the cake some time to set up and pull away from the edges. If you wait longer than 10 minutes then the caramel pecan topping will start to cool and harden, sticking to the bottom of the Bundt cake pan.
If your cake is soggy in the middle, that is a sign that the cake needed to bake in the oven longer
You’ll look for two things as you check your cake for doneness: spring back and a clean toothpick. Gently press on your cake, it should not stay depressed. It should spring back. Insert a toothpick into the center of cake, the toothpick should be clean of batter, but still have a few moist crumbs on it.
Yes, you can use pan instead of a Bundt cake pan. You can use a tube pan (like for angel food cake), or split the caramel pecan topping and batter between two 9-inch loaf pans. You’ll need to reduce the bake time for the loaf pans. Whatever pan you decide to use, make sure it is not more than ¾ full, you don’t want the cake to overflow in the oven.
- Toast your pecans. Toasting your pecans is an optional step, however it really brings out the nutty flavor of the pecans. Just toast them in a skillet for a few minutes until the smell fragrant, be careful not to let them burn.
- Use room temperature ingredients. Room temperature ingredients emulsify together better than cold ingredients, trapping more air, resulting in fluffier, more tender cake. I recommend using room temperature butter, cream cheese, eggs, and milk.
- Grease generously. Grease your cake pan generously with non-stick cooking spray, butter, or shortening. I recommend greasing it right before you add the caramel pecan topping so it's fresh.
- Set a timer before removing cake. It’s important you don’t let the cake cool completely before removing it from the pan. I recommend setting a timer for 10 minutes so you don’t forget about the cake. You need to let the pecan upside down cake cool enough that it has set up and pulled away from the pan but warm enough that the caramel pecan topping has not hardened.
- How to flip your upside down cake. Place your plate or serving dish on top of the Bundt cake pan. Hold the cake pan and serving dish together with your hands on both sides, and then flip and invert the cake onto the serving dish.
Variations and Substitutions in this Recipe
- Add Spices. Try adding some of your favorite warm spices into the caramel pecan topping. Think of flavors that pair well with brown sugar and pecan, like cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin spice, ginger, all-spice, etc.
- Replace the corn syrup. If you don’t have light corn syrup you can use dark corn syrup, maple syrup, or honey. Just know this will change the flavor.
- Swap the nuts. You can swap the pecans for another kind of nut here, walnuts, almonds, or cashews would be good.
- Try a different cake mix. I like this cake best with a white cake mix. However, you can swap the white cake mix for another 15 ounce cake mix for something like a yellow cake mix, spice cake mix, or even a butter pecan cake mix.
NOTE: Don’t make too many substitutions the first time you make this recipe or you may not be happy with the outcome.
Storing this Recipe
I recommend storing this cake at room temperature. Keep it tightly wrapped in plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. It is best eaten within 3-4 days of making.
Can I freeze the cake?
Yes, you can freeze this cake whole or in slices. To freeze it whole, wrap it tightly in two layers of plastic wrap. Make sure it is not getting smashed in the freezer. You can also freeze individual slices. Wrap each slice in plastic wrap and then place in plastic food storage container in the freezer.
To thaw, remove the whole cake or an individual slice, and let come to room temperature on the counter before eating. It’s best if used within 3 months of freezing.
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Pecan Upside Down Cake
Caramel Pecan Topping
- ½ cup melted butter (salted or unsalted)
- ⅓ cup light corn syrup
- ½ cup light brown sugar packed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ cups pecans halves roughly chopped
- 1 cup butter room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese (1 cup) room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ¼ cup sugar
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon milk
- 3.4 ounce instant vanilla pudding mix dry
- ¼ cup flour
- 15 ounce white cake mix (or yellow cake mxi) any brand is fine, I prefer Duncan Hines
Cream Cheese Glaze
- 3 ounces cream cheese (6 tablespoons) room temperature
- pinch salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Optional: Toast your pecans in a skillet for a few minutes until fragrant. Toasting the pecans brings out the nutty flavor, however, you can skip this if you prefer.
- Make the caramel pecan topping. Mix together the brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, and salt until smooth. Then stir in the chopped pecans. Set aside.
- For the cake, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Then add in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
- Pour in the milk and dry pudding mix, mix until smooth.
- Add in the dry cake mix and flour and mix until just barely incorporated but make sure there are not any dry pockets of flour or cake mix.
- Generously grease the bundt cake pan before pouring the caramel pecan topping into the bottom of the cake pan. Spread it so it’s evenly distributed across the bottom of the pan.
- Pour your cake batter into the bundt cake and spread evenly in the pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes.
- Let the cake cool for 10 minutes (set a timer!). Run a knife along the edge the cake to loosen it. Place your plate or cake board on top of the bundt cake pan and invert it, flipping the cake on to the plate. Gently tap the bundt cake pan until the cake is on the plate. If any of the pecan filling stuck to the pan, scoop it out with a spoon and replace it.
- Once cake is cool, make the cream cheese glaze. Whisk together all the ingredients until smooth. If the glaze is chunky, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften the cream cheese more and whisk some more. Drizzle the cream cheese glaze over the cake.
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