Pumpkin Pecan Upside Down Cake

This pecan upside down cake is the ultimate fall snack cake. Gooey pecan topping baked under a fluffy pumpkin cake, then flipped over to make a beautiful caramelized pecan topping. 

In the spring I made an upside down pecan carrot cake that I sent out in my newsletter (sign up below to get it!) Everyone LOVED it! I mean for good reason but it was still surprising how many people made and loved that recipe. 

So I thought it would be amazing to do a pumpkin version and I think I love this one more! 

Why I love this pecan upside down cake

I mean I don’t know how to convince you that there aren’t many things better in life than pumpkin and pecans. 

  • Just a small pot to make the topping. 
  • One bowl to make the pumpkin cake. 
  • It’s sweet and buttery, but not too sweet because the pecans and spices balance it nicely.
  • It’s perfectly fluffy and impressive without much time or effort!

If you like this recipe, you’ll LOVE my pecan pie brownies and my salted caramel pecan pie, both made with my homemade caramel sauce. You’ll also love my pumpkin muffins because they have a pecan streusel and maple glaze. 

Ingredients for pecan upside down cake

  • Butter: I prefer salted butter here but you can also use unsalted butter. I would add a tiny pinch of salt if you use unsalted butter. 
    • It gets melted so it doesn’t matter if it’s cold or not. 
  • Maple: I love the combination of maple and pumpkin so I added a little maple syrup to my topping. Make sure to use pure maple syrup and not pancake syrup.
  • Flour: I use all purpose flour in most of my recipes and I HIGHLY recommend using a digital scale, as flour is so often over measured. 
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda: We’re going to need both here and a lot of them to get that gorgeous muffin top.
  • Sugar: I used a combination of granulated sugar and brown sugar in this recipe. I used brown sugar and maple in the topping though. 
    • If you watch my video, you’ll see I used only light brown sugar there. It works that way too but it has a higher chance of sinking in the center so you may need to bake it a little longer. I recommend using half and half. 
  • Oil: I opted for oil here to give it a spongier texture. I use canola oil or vegetable oil but you can also use olive oil because you really can’t taste it but any oil works. 
  • Eggs: I use room temperature, large eggs. Pop them in hot water for a few minutes if they’re cold.
  • Greek Yogurt: I’ve used greek yogurt and sour cream in this recipe and they both work well. You can also use plain yogurt, just make sure they’re unsweetened.
  • Pumpkin: make sure to use pumpkin puree not pumpkin pie filling. 
  • Spices: I make my own pumpkin pie spice at home or you can just buy some. It’s just a combination of spices with a higher ratio of cinnamon.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Heat the butter, brown sugar and maple for the topping in a small saucepan.

Step 2: Add the pecans, vanilla and cinnamon, stir and spread into the prepared pan. 

Step 3: Whisk the wet ingredients together for a few minutes, until they’re well combined. 

Step 4: Add the dry ingredients and whisk just until the last streak of flour is combined.

Step 5: Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the tallest part of the cake, in the center, springs back when you press on it. If you’re hesitant, give it another couple of minutes.

Step 6: Let the cake rest for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a flat surface. Score the pecans with a sharp knife while they’re warm and then let the the cake cool before slicing all the way through the scored lines.

How to get the pecans from sticking to the pan

As the cake cools, the sugar will quickly set and stick to the edge of the pan. To avoid this, just cut a parchment paper into the width of your cake pan. You can leave it longer on one side so it hangs off the edge.

Then also run a knife along the edge of the pan when it comes out of the oven. This will prevent the caramelized pecans from sticking to the sides of the pan. 

How to get clean slices with a pecan topping

I showed this on my instagram story because if you let the cake cool completely and then try to cut it, the pecans don’t slice well and they just kind of smash the cake. 

To get clean slices, get your sharpest knife and score the pecans while they’re still warm. So just gently slice through the pecan layer but not the pumpkin layer. Then let the cake cool and slice it again going all the way through the cake.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a different type of nut?

I haven’t tested it but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. I’m sure this would be great with walnuts, blanched hazelnuts or even peanuts or macadamias. 

Can I make this ahead of time?

This cake holds on to moisture really well so you can make it 1-2 days in advance before serving. 

Can I make this in a different size pan?

You can make this cake in:
Round 8 inch baking pan (add at least 5 minutes to bake time)
Square 8 inch baking pan (what I used)
Round 9 inch baking pan (same baking time as square 8 inch)
Square 8 inch baking pan (may be done baking a few minutes quicker)
Double the recipe for a 9×13 inch pan (may need to bake longer, look for ques) 

How do I know when it’s done baking?

Just like all the rest of my cakes, I test if it’s done baking by pressing gently on the tallest part of the cake. The cake will spring back if it’s done baking. If it stays indented, give a few minutes in the oven, before testing again. 
You can also insert a toothpick into the center of the cake (the tallest part) and make sure it comes out clean or with a few crumbs but without any batter on it. 

How to store pecan upside down cake

I usually just cover it with a cake dome or place it in an airtight container and store it at room temperature for 2-3 days. You can store it in the refrigerator for an additional 2-3 days but if it’s any longer, I recommend freezing it.

To freeze the cake, place the slices in an airtight container and then place the container in a freezer bag, squeezing out all the excess air. Bring it back to room temperature by thawing at room temperature for a few hours before serving. 

Thanks so much for reading today’s post, if you have any questions just comment down below. Make sure to leave it in the comment section because I can’t answer in the rating section.

If you make this pecan upside down cake, I’d love it if you left a star rating for me. If it’s less than five stars, please leave a comment with the rating so I know why! 🙂

As always, have a blessed day and happy baking!

Love, B

Yield: 16 slices

Pumpkin Pecan Upside Down Cake

pumpkin pecan upside down cake

This pumpkin pecan upside down cake is the ultimate fall snack cake. Gooey pecan topping baked under a fluffy pumpkin cake, then flipped over to make a beautiful caramelized pecan topping. 

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

Pecan Topping

  • 6 Tbsp (85g) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (70g) light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup (60mL) pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups (180g) roughly chopped pecans

Pumpkin Cake

  • 1/4 cup (60mL) vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature 
  • 1/4 cup (56g) Greek Yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 3/4 cup (180g) pumpkin puree (I use Libbys - thick consistency)
  • 1 1/4 cups (150g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice

Instructions

Pecan Topping

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (177C) and grease and line a square 8x3 inch baking pan with baking spray and parchment paper.
  2. Combine the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup in a saucepan, over medium-low heat, whisk just until it’s completely smooth. 
  3. Remove from the heat and fold in the vanilla, cinnamon and chopped pecans.
  4. Spread the pecan mixture evenly into the prepared pan and set aside while you make the pumpkin cake.

Pumpkin Cake

  1. In a large bowl whisk together the oil with the sugars until they're well combined.
  2. Add the eggs, whisking one in at a time until it's fully combined.
  3. Add the yogurt and pumpkin and whisk until it’s completely smooth.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices and whisk until the flour is fully incorporated.  
  5. Gently spread the pumpkin cake batter over the topping and bake for 40-45 minutes. The cake should spring back when you press on the center (or a toothpick should come out clean).
  6. Gently run a knife along the edge of the pan to release any sticky spots.
  7. Let the cake rest for 10 minutes and then place a cake board/cutting board/cake stand on top of the pan. Flip the pan over and gently remove the pan.
  8. Remove the parchment paper and use a knife to gently score the pecans while they're warm so you get clean slices once the cake cools.
  9. Allow the cake to cool completely and then slice all the way through the score marks.

Notes

  • cake can be stored airtight at room temperature for 2-3 days, refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for 1-2 months.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 228Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 211mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 2gSugar: 19gProtein: 3g

Nutrition information may not be fully accurate.

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