Upside Down

My photo mojo has been disappointing me lately.  Fortunately, my cooking mojo seems to be getting back into a groove.  Don’t be fooled by the wonky focus  and general boringness of that picture.  What you see is a delightful, versatile cake, perfect any time of the year.  It’s gently sweet with a light, airy crumb.

Back when I was on my cake quest, I knew I had this recipe in the folder but I also knew that this was a different kind of cake.  You don’t build it up with layers.  You don’t frost it.  You don’t even bake it in a cake pan.  You do beat egg whites.  And you do spackle the topping back on when it sticks to the bottom of your frying pan after your turn it out.  How many other cakes do you do that with?

I’ve made this cake a few times since I pulled the recipe out of Cooking Light back in 2004.  That’s right, this is another one of THOSE recipes that’s been hanging around forever waiting to get its moment here on BAH.  And each time, I’ve used a different combination for the topping.  Like what, you might ask.  Let’s see, I’ve used cranberries, ginger, peaches, and kumquats in a number of variations.  And of all the ways I’ve made it, I think I like it best with kumquats.

Those sweet tart morsels get candied in the brown sugar, making them soft and absolutely delightful.  And that wee bit of tartness balances the gentle sweetness of the cake and the caramel notes of the topping.

According to my pal Google, kumquat season is something like November to March.  While I was lucky enough to come upon a plethora of kumquats at the Asian market in late April, I haven’t been back to see if they are still in stock.  I really should because I’d like to make this with kumquats one more time before they disappear from the shelves and I move on to the peach topped variety for summer.

Kumquat Upside Down Cake

Adapted from Cooking Light

Variations of this recipe include:

Cranberry Ginger – Substitute 1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger and 3 cups fresh cranberries for the kumquats.

Peach Ginger – Substitute approximately 2 cups frozen peaches which have been thawed and diced and 1 tablespoon finely diced crystallized ginger for the kumquats.

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups brown sugar (depending on how sugary you want the topping)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 pound kumquats, sliced and seeded
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a 10 inch nonstick frying pan over medium heat.  Add brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan and cook until the butter and sugar melt together, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat and arrange the kumquat slices on top of the brown sugar mixture.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Combine the granulated sugar and softened butter tn the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Cream the butter and sugar together on medium high speed until light and fluffy.  Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until well incorporated after each addition.  On low speed, add the flour mixture and milk alternately to the bowl, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Add vanilla and stir until combined.

Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in a bowl and beat on medium speed just until stiff peaks form.  Stir a small amount of the beaten whites into the batter to lighten it.  Then fold the remaining whites into the batter until no streaks of whites remain.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then invert onto a serving plate.  Any topping that sticks to the pan can be removed with a spatula and put back onto the top of the cake.

{printable recipe}

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8 thoughts on “Upside Down

  1. I am a huge fan of light, airy and simple cakes. However I have never had one that is upside down. Jo and I might have to try yours at some point. As for photography, I can understand your woes. However, I am sure your mojo will return 🙂

    1. Adam, don’t forget that this has a caramelized top. I can’t think of anything that wouldn’t taste good with that.

      Still looking for my photomojo : (

    1. Kitch, I’d never eaten a kumquat before last year. So no, not weird at all. But now I think they are the best thing since sliced bread. I’ve got a container of them sitting in the fridge waiting for their opportunity to be spectacular. Maybe I’ll make a quick jam of them.

      If I do ever stumble across my photomojo, you’re more than welcome to share it. It’s never where you expect to find it though.

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