Kumquat Upside-Down Cake

kumquats in pan

What do you do with two pounds of kumquats? Why you make a kumquat upside-down cake, Silly. What else would you do.

No, seriously, what else would you do? I have been getting them every week in my CSA (which has been awesome), but had it not been for the lovely Huebscher, who pointed me to this recipe, those kumquats would still be sitting in my fridge. I mean seriously, there’s only so much no-face* you can play with these tart little gems, though I have found them more bearable in the past few weeks. I have nothing scientific to back this up, but it seems the bigger the kumquat, the sweeter. Can anyone support this theory?

Fortunately, kumquats keep well in the fridge and do make a fabulous upside-down cake. That said, I wouldn’t mind exploring some other uses. My mother and I were thinking they might make a nice addition to a braised dish or a Moroccan tagine or something of the sort.

So, I have never done this, but I am feeling creative (— just bought a mat cutter … so much fun — ) and would like to propose a challenge which will result in a gift for one of you. What I would like from you are recipes/ideas featuring kumquats. Whoever supplies the best idea will receive a framed picture, perhaps one of these.

As I suspected, another little baggy of kumquats arrived in my CSA today. I will stash them away until I hear back from you.


Kumquat Upside Down Cake

kumquats in pan

Kumquat Upside Down Cake


Kumquat Upside Down Cake
Source: Beauty Everyday

1½ lbs. kumquats, halved
1 stick (4 oz | 113g) unsalted butter
¾ cup light brown sugar
3 T. honey
½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. salt

1 1/3 cup flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
1 cup (8 oz | 226g) unsalted butter, softened (if using salted use less salt)
1 1/3 cup sugar
5 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

2. Melt butter in a large cast iron pan over medium heat. Be careful not to burn the butter. Add brown sugar and stir until mixed. Remove from heat. Add vanilla, honey and salt, and stir to combine.

3. Add the fruit to caramel mixture — fit as much as you can inside. (WARNING: I used about 1½ lbs. of kumquats, and squeezed them all in. About half-way through baking, the syrup bubbled up and spilled out onto my oven floor. Smoke was everywhere. So, you can either place the kumquats in just one layer, or you could take your chances and maybe place a cookie sheet on the rack below the pan to catch any over flow.)

Make the batter:
4. Put softened butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating on high. Add vanilla.

5. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Add to wet ingredients and mix on low speed until combined.

6. Carefully spoon or pour batter over kumquats, taking caution not to disturb the fruit. Carefully smooth the batter.

7. Place cake in oven on the middle rack. Bake for about 1 hour, checking after 45 minutes. Test the cake with a toothpick, making sure it is cooked in the middle. Take a butter knife and loosen edges along the pan. Put cake on a wire rack and let it cool for about 30 minutes.

8. Put a large platter face down over cast iron pan and flip.

Kumquat Upside Down Cake (side view)

*No-face:  Invented circa 2001 by a Canadian hockey player, no-face is a game that requires participants to take shots of particularly offensive high-octane combinations. Whoever makes no face, wins. Kate Ling, if I recall correctly, is reigning champion.


  1. says

    Ooh, when I saw that first pic I knew it was going to a beaut! That’s gorgeous, Ali :) The Tartine cookbook inserts candied kumquats into its pecan pie to cut the sweetness. In Dessert Fourplay, Iuzzini adds chopped candied kumquats to cream cheese pastry cream as a filling for doughnuts :)

  2. says

    Now I feel totally inspired and it’s barely 10 a.m. They’re so pretty to look at and I never really knew what to do with them – now I do – thanks for this recipe.

  3. says

    That looks delicious! Great way to use those kumquats up! Kumquats are a big deal on the island of Kerkyra (Corfu) from which my mother-in-law is from and there they make Greek spoon sweets (a sort of preserves where the fruit is kept whole) with the kumquats or they also candy them whole.

  4. says

    I can’t say I am a HUGE fan of kumquats but that recipe may just lead me to try some :-) Our friend is in love with kumquats and has one planted in a pot, so I may have to refer them to this upside down cake! The colors are brilliant!

  5. says

    This looks so delicious. I love the pics of the kumquats with the cast iron pan. The contrast in color is very eye catching!

  6. says

    sadly, i’ve never tasted a kumquat. i can tell you this, however–i want my introduction to be a recipe much like this–it looks and sounds delectable!

  7. says

    Holy wow! This looks incredible. I’ve made a pineapple-plantain upside-down cake in my skillet, but this moves me to new levels of invention and decadence. Thanks for the great post!

  8. says

    Your upside down cake is beautiful!! Here’s a recipe for you!

    Cranberry Kumquat Relish

    1 cup honey
    2 tbsp. crystallized ginger
    12 oz. fresh cranberries
    2 (4 inch) cinnamon sticks
    1 cup chopped kumquats
    1 tbsp. lemon juice


    1. In a 4 quart sauce pan, heat honey, cinnamon sticks and ginger to boiling.

    2. Add chopped kumquats and simmer until just soft.

    3. With a slotted spoon, remove the kumquats and the cinnamon sticks.

    4. Discard the cinnamon sticks.

    5. Add cranberries to honey mixture in sauce pan and cook until the cranberries burst.

    6. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and allow to cool.

    7. Stir kumquats back into the mixture and spoon it into jars.

    8. Refrigerate.

  9. Eileen says

    Candied kumquats–I had these on a cheese plate & loved them so much, I bought fresh kumquats for the first time this spring & walked around work with them, coercing people to taste them. Now I want to try your beautiful cake.

  10. says

    I started to see kumquats here.I usually made candied kumquats, but, honestly I am bored to make the same recipe.
    I love the recipe and I certainly will try it

  11. says

    gorgeous, gorgeous photos. kumquats always seem to multiply once brought into a home, they’re never finished. if you have any leftover, i like the Moroccan inspiration- maybe preserved like lemons, then chopped fine in couscous.

  12. Jon H says

    Ali! The photos are amazing. Tell me, for those of us on the east coast without this beautiful fruit, would the recipe work with the garlic scapes I keep getting in my CSA?

    Triple xo,

  13. marya says

    That cake looks so yummy. I have fond memories of popping kumquats like candy as a child. My mother was from Paraguay and missed them so much when she was living up here in the Northwest. whenever she found them up here she bought all she could. As others have mentioned Kumquat marmalade is wonderful, especially with a touch of lime. I found this site though that has a wealth of recipes for kumquats.

  14. says

    ohyeah…the use: I’m a fan of rustic small-batch marmalades. pretty little cross-section kumquat slices and a teeny bit of chai spice (vanilla bean, cinnamon, clove, star anise & black pepper). really nice on yogurt, served with cheese, or spooned onto a chocolate cake.

  15. says

    absolutely beautiful!!!! it’s been a minute since I’ve come by but I’m glad to be here now! congrats on the new site, too!

  16. says

    What a gorgeous cake– really! So pretty! I don’t believe I’ve ever had a kumquat before, so I’m afraid I can’t be of much help. I need to join a CSA too, so I’m forced to think of things to do w/ goodies like this!

  17. Lynn says

    Now I’m racking my brain (not books or websites so as no to ‘cheat’) for some original and sensational recipe using Kumquats just so I could have one of those outstanding photos!

  18. M-Marie says

    good morning! what a wonderful pictures and delicious recepy, I have published the Dutch translation on the belgian website (http://nl.yunomi.be/artikel/koum-kouat) together with some other recepies I found (kumquat liquor and kumquat marmelade)! I have some friends who would kill for a piece of your cake! thank you for all these delicious sweets! and to Zul: I will certainly try your kumquat compote! have a great day! xoxo M-Marie (Belgium)

  19. Theresa Rohlof says

    Everyone talks about the picture but no comments on the cake. Well I plan to make it and let everyone know if it is good or not. Have a nice harvest and while I like them straight off the tree, I’m looking for a nice gift to share!

  20. Natalie says

    I’ve recently come into a bag of kumquats, and I want to try this cake. Can you please clarify your measurements? Particularly, what is the volume of the cup you use, and your stick of butter? (I live in Australia, so my cup is 250mL and a block of butter is 250g. I’ve been told these measurements differ world-wide.)
    Lastly, is your oven temp. for a conventional or fan-forced oven? Cheers.

    • says

      Hi Natalie! Sorry about the measurements. Ok, 1 cup is 240ml and 1 stick of butter is 4 oz (113g). And I use just a standard old oven. I don’t have a convection setting or anything like that. Hope that helps! Let me know how it turns out. Thanks!

  21. says

    My family is kumquat krazy! It is a Christmas tradition to cook with them. We may have to add this to our repertoires. As of right now I have three kumquat recipes featured on my blog:

    Kumquat Refrigerator Pie:

    Kumquat Christmas Drink:

    Kumquat Marmalade:

  22. Carmen says

    I’m looking forward to making this cake as my kumquat tree needs picking. I agree, those are great photos of the cake.

    Question: you say “large” pan. What is the diameter you used?

  23. Brittany says

    I’ve know about kumquats all my life, but was always a little wary because the skin is eaten. Recently I’ve been trying all the things I didn’t think I liked (cucumbers, oatmeal, kiwi [onions are still a no]) and been surprised. So when I saw them in the store I picked up a little carton and made some marmalade. I’ve been enjoying that simply on toast, but another commentators mention of yogurt gives me ideas.
    Then I saw your cake and was sad because I had used them all up. A couple weeks go by and I can’t find kumquats. Then one day there they are and I snatch them up and come home to make your cake on this rainy day.
    It is simple, smells and looks delicious. I’m just sad I don’t have anyone to share it with, the room mate is on a diet.

  24. Stephanie M says

    My in-laws have a huge kumquat tree, and my attempt and kumquat marmalade wasn’t too successful. I would love to give this a try. I see lots of seeds in your pictures. Did you not de-seed the fruit?

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