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Ugly Delicious Kumquat Upside Down Cake

So this cake is not cute. I’ll be the first to admit it. But it is tasty. What can you do? Sometimes you can’t have it all.

Using my haul of fresh kumquats that I bought at the farmer’s market in Liguria last week, I took to the kitchen. Because these little citrus bites tend to have a tang that’s pretty tart, I thought that there’d be no better way to combat all the mouth-puckering acidity than with some butter and sugar.

Because I tend not to follow a recipe in most things I do, the results can vary. Most of the time however, this freestyling is due to the fact that I’m missing some ingredients. This recipe is not so different, however, sometimes when these little inconveniences present themselves you get an even tastier result.

In a sort of amalgamation of upside down cake recipes, this ugly delicious kumquat upside down cake has more kumquats and extra love. Plus, it also uses muscovado sugar instead of brown sugar.

Since making the move to Italy, brown sugar has been quite hard to find, but I can always count on muscovado sugar. Unlike brown sugar, which is essentially refined white sugar with molasses added to it, muscovado is less refined cane sugar and has a higher content of molasses. Muscovado sugar also has richer caramel and toffee flavours. That said, this warm and buttery notes add a lovely extra oomph to this citrus cake!

Though assembling this cake was quite aesthetic, the end result saw a very brown dessert despite the colourful orange citrus pre-bake. Regardless, when you cut into it, it’s moist and crumbly and there are little pools of sugar and butter that have seeped into the batter while cooking. Plus, the kumquats are perfectly candied!

Vowing to start my summertime diet today, I instead made myself some espresso and ate the last leftover slice...yes, it was delicious enough that my friends ate it all up leaving me with a single slice. That’s evidence that you can trust!

. . .

Ugly Delicious Kumquat Upside Down Cake

* Makes 10 servings *


  • 4 tablespoons butter

  • 1/2 cup muscovado sugar

  • 2 cups kumquats

  • 8 tablespoons butter, room temperature

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup muscovado sugar

  • 1/2 vanilla bean pod, scraped

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

  2. Melt the butter and muscovado sugar over medium heat. Pour the sauce in a 10” cake pan and set aside.

  3. Cute kumquats in half, lengthwise. Layer them cut-side down into the sugar and butter mixture until the bottom of the pan is covered. I made layers of circles but you can also freestyle.

  4. In a bowl, whisk butter, granulated and muscovado sugar together until fluffy.

  5. Add vanilla, eggs, milk and mix until smooth.

  6. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

  7. Add the dry to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. Pour the batter on top of the fruit, making sure to coat all the fruit.

  8. Bake for 20 minutes until a wooden pick comes out clean. Allow the pan to cool for at least 15 minutes.

  9. Place a plate on top of the pan and flip the cake to reveal the final masterpiece!


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Maria Checchia
Maria Checchia
Apr 06, 2021

I so wish I had a slice that I could enjoy with my coffee right now! You always finish with something delicious and creative! 😘

Apr 06, 2021
Replying to

I try my best!😅 This is a great little coffee cake for sure! ✨

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