I was afraid of upside-down cakes when I first started baking. Despite ratings of “easy” and headnotes that assured success, I always skipped the upside-down cake recipes when I scoured my mom’s cookbooks looking for my next baking project.
I had already experienced some traumatic experiences with cakes sticking in pans: The first Bundt cake I baked got stuck on one half, then unmolded perfectly on the other half, leaving me totally baffled. I later figured out that my batter wasn’t mixed properly, and a piece of brown sugar had sunk to the bottom of the pan, melted, and then caused the batter around it to adhere to the pan as it caramelized during baking. For so long I worried that I'd mess up the seemingly simple upside-down cake for the same reason, because it seemed so plausible that the sugar used to coat the base of the pan could stick and ruin everything.