Kumquat Upside-Down Cake

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kumquat upside down cake recipe
Photo: Christine Han/Styling: Erin McDowell

Guys, we have to introduce you to our cute new friend, kumquat. She’s kind of tart, kind of bitter and the star ingredient in recipe developer Erin McDowell’s kumquat upside-down cake. We think you’ll love her.

“A lot of people don’t know how to eat kumquats because you eat them with the peel still on,” McDowell tells us. “This upside-down cake is a good introduction, especially if you’re not sure you’re going to like them, because it sweetens up the bitterness of the skin. That bitterness, combined with the tart juiciness of the kumquats, is a great flavor combination.” Put it all on top of a cake, add a dollop of spiced whipped cream and you’re in for a treat.

One tip from McDowell: “Whenever you’re buttering a pan for an upside-down cake, it looks like way too much butter. It’s way more than you would use for a standard cake, but that’s because it’s forming a caramel with the sugar on the top and also ensuring that the fruit won’t stick to the pan. So if it looks like too much, don’t be tempted to skimp on it, because it’s actually very important to the recipe.”

In our humble opinion, the more butter (and citrus) the better.



3 tablespoons unsalted butter

⅓ cup (71g) light brown sugar

About 35 (665g) kumquats, halved

Cake Batter

16 tablespoons (226g) unsalted butter, softened

½ cup (99g) granulated sugar

½ cup (106g) light brown sugar

2 large (113g) eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon fine sea salt

1½ cups (360g) sour cream

Whipped Cream (optional)

1 cup (235g) cold heavy cream

¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cloves


1. Make the topping: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan thoroughly with butter, being especially generous when coating the base of the pan.

2. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the base of the pan. Arrange the kumquats, cut-side down, in the prepared pan, packing them in tightly so the whole base is fully covered.

3. Make the Batter: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well to combine. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.

5. Add the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt; mix to combine.

6. Add the sour cream and mix well to combine. Pour the batter over the prepared citrus slices and gently spread into an even layer.

7. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes inside the pan before inverting onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

8. Make the whipped cream (optional): If using, make the whipped topping while the cake cools. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and cloves to soft peaks. Keep the whipped cream refrigerated until ready to serve.

Nutrition Facts
  • Cake

  • 431 calories

  • 25g fat

  • 48g carbs

  • 5g protein

  • 29g sugars

  • Whipped Cream

  • 85 calories

  • 7g fat

  • 5g carbs

  • 0g protein

  • 5g sugars

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Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.

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erin jeanne mcdowell

Freelance Food Editor

Erin Jeanne McDowell is a recipe developer, food stylist and author of multiple cookbooks, including The Fearless Baker, which was named one of the Best Baking Books of 2017 by...