Persimmon Upside-Down Cake

Persimmon Upside-Down Cake

Persimmon Upside-Down Cake. Is that legit? When I was growing up an upside-down cake was made with pineapple from a can – usually with a Day-Glo maraschino cherry adorning the center of each sunny ring. To a kid like me, it was a marvel of a cake – full of magic and mystery. How could it be possible to get that glistening yellow and red design embedded into a cake? 

I’ll admit the whole concept still holds allure. But, as an adult I crave something that’s reminiscent of all that magic and mystery, but with a bit more seasonality and sophistication.

The season is set by the calendar, true, but the sophistication is up to me.

Where I live the persimmon is a common backyard fruit tree. I like to watch its seasonal progress as I walk the streets in the old Hollywood Hills neighborhood where I live. In the summer the leaves are green and lush, but the tree doesn’t look particularly special. Come autumn the trees begin to set loads of green fruit, hinting at what’s to come. By December they’ve usually dropped their leaves, creating a gray tangle dotted with crimson orbs silhouetted against the sky. Here it is January and many of those orbs still cling to the trees.

Persimmon Upside-Down Cake

But not for much longer. So when my friend Armineh showed up at the house with a bag of the last-of-the-season fuyu persimmons I figured that the time was now for a magical dessert. Persimmon Upside-Down Cake. GREG

Persimmon Upside-Down Cake

Persimmon-Ginger Upside-Down Cake 

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Persimmon-Ginger Upside-Down Cake


  • softened butter (as needed for pan)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (divided)
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 ½ ounce candied ginger (roughly chopped)
  • 4–5 fresh fuyu persimmons (peeled cored and cut into bite-sized wedges)
  • 1 ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ vegetable oil
  • 2 uni large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ice cream (for serving, optional)


Butter the insides of a 9‑inch cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a parchment round cut to fit edge to edge. Set aside.

Bring orange juice, ¼ cup sugar, and candied ginger to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to low; simmer until thickened, about 7 minutes. Add persimmons. Simmer, covered, until tender; 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer fruit and ginger, in an even layer, to the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Continue to cook syrup uncovered until reduced a bit more (you should have about ¼‑cup). Pour the syrup over persimmons. Set aside.

Whisk together flour, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in another medium bowl. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking. Gently pour the batter and over the persimmons in the cake pan, then carefully make the surface smooth with the offset spatula.

Bake in the heated oven until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Place the cake on a rack to cool for 5 minutes in the pan.

Run a small spatula or knife around the edge of the pan and invert onto a rimmed serving plate, leaving the pan on the cake for another few minutes. Carefully remove the pan. Peel off parchment. Check the arrangement of the persimmons and make adjustments if needed while the cake is still warm. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream (if using).