Cast Iron

Maple Persimmon Upside-Down Cake with Maple Cream

November 19, 2021
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Serves 8-10
Author Notes

When I decided to make a persimmon upside-down cake, I didn't think that using a standard pineapple upside-down cake recipe would fly, so I went for a sturdier, denser cake, reinforced with extra egg yolk and ground nuts. I also liked the idea of caramelization via maple syrup, which, it turns out, is great with the fruit. The flavors will mellow and meld overnight, but the cake will stay very moist, so it's a great bake-ahead dessert, though ideally it should be served warm. I love using the traditional cast iron pan, but if you don't have one, be sure to use a minimum 10-inch cake pan—there's a good amount of batter. Most important, though, is to use fuyu persimmons, which have the right texture for the recipe (as opposed to hachiyas, which are too soft). Cut them in slices parallel to the equator to get the sweet little star pattern. - vvvanessa —vvvanessa

Test Kitchen Notes

This cake is like your favorite spice cake meets the caramelized, fruity goodness of a tarte tatin—it's a go-to you'll be dreaming about long after the persimmons are gone. We'd stop there, but then, there's the faintly sweet Maple Cream. You have direct orders not to skip the latter; you can whip it up in a blender if you're short on time.

We've partnered with Wolf Gourmet, makers of helpful appliances like their countertop oven, to highlight crowd-pleasing winter recipes for entertaining and beyond. —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Maple Persimmon Upside-Down Cake with Maple Cream
  • Persimmon Upside-Down Cake
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons real maple syrup (grade B if you can get it, but grade A is fine as long as it's the real thing)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped roasted pecans
  • 2 ripe fuyu persimmons, or 3 if it fits, cut into slices parallel to the equator, about 1/4-inch thick
  • Maple Cream
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, well-chilled
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup, well-chilled
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Over low heat on the stovetop, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup in a 10-inch skillet. It should not get hot or bubbly, just melted. Remove the pan from the heat. (If you're planning to bake the cake in a cast iron skillet, use that pan for this step.)
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter and 1 cup of maple syrup over medium-low until they are thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add in the egg and egg yolk, and beat for another minute.
  5. Add in half of the flour mixture and beat for 10 seconds. Add in the buttermilk and beat for 10 seconds more. Add in the rest of the flour mixture, beat for 10 seconds, scrape down the bowl, and beat for 20 seconds more.
  6. Stir in the pecans, scraping down the bowl in the process.
  7. Take the cast iron pan (if using), and swirl the butter-syrup mixture to make sure the sides and bottom of the pan are thoroughly coated, taking care if the pan is still hot. If you're not using a cast iron pan, pour the mixture into a 10-inch cake pan. Set one slice of persimmon in the middle of the pan, then layer the persimmons in outward-moving concentric circles, overlapping them as necessary to cover the bottom of the pan completely.
  8. Pour the batter over the fruit, and smooth out the surface.
  9. Bake on the center rack for 45-50 minutes, rotating the pan about 20 minutes into baking. The cake will brown slightly and is done when it tests clean in the middle.
  10. Remove the pan from the oven. Allow it to cool until it can be handled safely without oven mitts (anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or more). Using a thin butter knife or an icing spatula, gently loosen the sides of the cake. Place a large serving plate inverted on top of the pan. Bracing the plate against the pan with one hand, flip the cake over and out of the pan and onto the plate. If there is another set of hands to help with the heavy pan, all the better.
  11. Allow the cake to finish cooling on the plate. While the cake is cooling, make the maple cream. Whip the cream, maple syrup, and cinnamon together to form soft peaks. Keep refrigerated until the cake is ready to serve.
  12. Serve slices of cake warm with a big dollop of the maple cream.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Vaishnavi Subramaniam
    Vaishnavi Subramaniam
  • Joelle Bradley
    Joelle Bradley
  • Svetlana Maheshwari
    Svetlana Maheshwari
  • Kelsey Sandvall
    Kelsey Sandvall
  • Heather | Delicious Not Gorgeous
    Heather | Delicious Not Gorgeous

54 Reviews

Vaishnavi S. November 24, 2022
Its a wonderful recipe but if you use a cast iron it discolors the persimmons, which was disappointing.
Joelle B. February 3, 2020
Tip: to store cake, do not cover it. My caramelization dissolved and it turned an unappetizing pale colour :(
Tip: I followed the directions, but my batter was too liquidy and the persimmons floated and I did not get a good caramelized look when I flipped the cake. Watch the video. Your batter should be thicker like in the video
Tip: if your cake is pale (like I suffered from twice for two separate reasons, see above) you can save it's good looks by sprinkling with brown sugar and broiling it in the oven or use a blow torch. Broiling is better. Blow torch left a slight funny taste.
Svetlana M. December 22, 2019
My tips, since people are saying it's too sweet. 1 cup sugar is about the same as .75 cups maple syrup plus water. So reduce the maple syrup by at least 10% and add more buttermilk based on those conversions. If you want persimmon to dominate in flavor, omit the cinnamon and follow the lead of the James Beard chef at Chez Panez and her famous persimmon loaf, and stick to nutmeg only. .5 tsp for this cake. I'd look up a nutmeg whipped cream recipe and add a splash of cognac
Jules January 13, 2018
Hi! Do you think this can be made with almond flour? I need a GF/yeast-free option. Thanks!
Ranjana December 9, 2017
Hi, can this be frozen? Thanks in advance.
Kelsey S. November 23, 2017
@vvvanessa Just made this cake, and when I turned it out of the pan, the persimmons have a definite blue tinge!!??! Has this ever happened for you? Can't decide if it's a safe but odd reaction with cast iron, or if I should toss for safety's sake. Followed recipe exactly. Used Fuyu persimmons (I think they were ripe?!), grade A syrup, unsalted butter.
Vaishnavi S. November 20, 2018
This happened to me when I used the cast iron, I would definitely AVOID the cast iron for any fresh fruit cakes.. It turns out beautifully in a spring form pan, its a shame the instructions tell you to use a cast iron
Barbara W. November 11, 2017
For me, the maple syrup and butter never fully combined, no matter how long I best it anfd even after changing to the whisk. I finally just gave up and added the eggs. It still turned okay, with a mild (pumpkin pie spice) taste. I would like to taste it without any cinnamon to see if the maple and persimmon flavors would be more detectable.
Heather |. February 10, 2017
i loved how moist this was! it was a bit on the sweet side for me (but i'd be weary of cutting back on the amount of syrup bc i wouldn't want the cake to be dry), so i found that a scoop of yogurt worked better with it than maple-sweetened cream. and the persimmons looked so pretty with that star pattern!
vvvanessa February 11, 2017
Thanks, Heather! This is making me think that some whipped crème fraîche might be in order next time!
LeBec F. February 22, 2016
VVV, Given the description above from 52, I think you should be sure to wear a T shirt when you next see them- that says "Wicked Serious Recreational Baker" ;-}
vvvanessa February 11, 2017
Ha! I'll get right on that! : )
clintonhillbilly November 30, 2015
Great recipe! I made this for Thanksgiving this year and was very happy with it. The cake turned out quite moist, the pecans added some nice texture, and using maple syrup rather than sugar added a depth of flavor. I used 4 small persimmons, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly as written.
vvvanessa February 11, 2017
I'm glad it worked out for you! Thanks for letting me know!
Rebecca C. December 17, 2013
A big hit at the party! There's enough maple syrup in the cake to disguise "the blah" persimmon. It is a very moist cake - almost English pudding style - that tastes of maple pecan finished with orange. Oh, then more maple, please - in the whip cream!
vvvanessa December 25, 2013
So glad to hear it was a hit! Thanks for letting me know!
Kathleen November 26, 2013
My Aunt in California sends us (in Michigan) persimmons from her tree. For Thanksgiving, I am making this cake. Looks delicious!
vvvanessa December 25, 2013
I hope it turned out! Hooray for aunties with persimmon trees!
Kukla February 14, 2013
Congratulations Vanessa! This is a great recipe and a beautiful Cake!
fiveandspice February 11, 2013
Congratulations Vanessa! My mouth is watering just looking at this. Our grocery store isn't getting any more persimmons for the season, but next year I am making this the moment I spot one!
My P. February 10, 2013
Beautiful Vanessa! I love persimmons. I have long since used all mine up for the year, but I am saving the recipe for next year. Congrats on being a finalist!
TheWimpyVegetarian February 10, 2013
Wow, this looks just amazing Vanessa! Many congrats on being in the finalist circle. Fabulous!!
EatSimplyEatWell February 8, 2013
Wow! Looks incredible. I'd nearly given up on finding a way to eat persimmons in anything but their raw form. I'll need to get myself a new bagful and try this.
vvvanessa February 10, 2013
Thanks! I hope it works out for you!
mrslarkin February 7, 2013
Holy cow. Yum. Congrats vvv!
vvvanessa February 10, 2013
Many thanks, mrslarkin!
jeaninoakland February 7, 2013
Eli loves persimmons. This may replace the kale chips as his favorite.
vvvanessa February 10, 2013
The first cake next season will be for him!
hardlikearmour February 7, 2013
Congratulations, triplev! This is a beauty, and on my list for next time I have persimmons.
vvvanessa February 10, 2013
Thank you!