Rosh Hashanah

Fresh Fig, Walnut, and Rosemary Upside-Down Cake

October  2, 2009
9 Ratings
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

I created this Fresh Fig, Walnut, and Rosemary Upside-Down Cake recently when I had a surplus of lush California figs. The recipe is an adaptation from my late grandmother's famous pineapple upside-down cake recipe. The sweet, ripe figs become encased in a buttery brown sugar crust, while the savory rosemary and tangy lemon balance the cake's sweetness. —Food Blogga

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 10 fresh, ripe figs of your choice, tips removed, halved
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, divided
  • 2-3 tablespoons walnut pieces, or as much as needed
  • 1 cup flour, sifted*
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F.
  2. Add butter to a 9-inch-round baking pan, and place inside of a warm oven until melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the butter. Add figs, flesh side up, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the rosemary. Fill in the nooks and crannies with walnut pieces.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine sifted flour, baking powder and salt, and stir.
  4. Using a hand mixer, in a metal or glass bowl, beat egg whites at high speed until fluffy. Set aside.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks with sugar at medium speed until creamy. Add lemon juice, zest, vanilla extract, and remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary, and beat well. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, and beat until well combined. Fold in the egg whites with a rubber spatula. Pour cake mixture evenly over the fruit, and smooth with the spatula.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes, or until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert carefully onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature. *Note: Sifting the flour creates a lighter cake.
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32 Reviews

Pigo G. August 20, 2023
I have had this recipe forever and only just last night made it for the first time with fresh figs my hairstylist gave me from his tree. It was so delicious and beautiful. My chef brother was very impressed with the great balance of flavors and loved it! He kept going back for more. He also whipped the egg whites by hand for me (I was busy making dinner and a cake simultaneously). This is totally a keeper recipe and I can't wait to bake this for my friends out west who say they aren't dessert people, but always ask me to make the desserts! No need to tweak the ingredients, yes it may sound like a lot of butter or sugar, but the result speaks for itself...devine!!
Candace October 1, 2022
Wow this is a keeper. What a beautiful presentation this cake makes.
My second one I placed in a glass baking dish with a tight fitting cover, baked the cake as directed, let cool for 20 minutes, then perforated the cake with a long tooth pick (about 16 perforations) to allow the syrupy juices to moisten the cake, covered with the tight plastic top and flipped over. Refrigerates beautifully for 5 days… moist and delicious.
aargersi August 10, 2019
This cake is BEAUTIFUL - all components delicious so I am sure cake will be too. Pictures on my Instagram @aargersi
Skeeter69 August 2, 2019
So good I’m about to make my fourth one. If you haven’t discovered the exotic taste of cardamom, you should try it in this cake in addition to the rosemary. Truly delicious.
Christine O. February 6, 2019
I so love this cake! I am looking anxiously at the grocery store for figs being in sale just so I can make it. Big favorite at home!
Takako September 7, 2015
Followed the recipe exactly except I reduced butter and both brown and white sugars a bit. The baking time was 45 minutes for me. The funny thing was that when done, I thought the cake looked odd somehow. I had my fresh figs flesh side up! Well, we will be eating tomorrow for Labor Day BBQ. Let's see how it tastes!
alejita September 3, 2015
Waaaay too sweet for our taste and too much butter. The cake is too moist once cooled. I did love the lemony flavor (I'm the lemon queen) but next time -- and there will be a next time -- I will cut the sugar (white and brown), butter and lemon elements in half . Will report.All in all, a nice cake that uses a favorite ingredient (fresh figs).
julianna K. August 19, 2015
My cake turned out too eggy - maybe reduce it to 2 egg yolks?
Ashley M. July 26, 2015
My husband and children aren't big fans of fresh figs (something I absolutely love) so I'm always looking for creative and new ways to prepare them. The entire family loved this cake! Hubby and my very picky 9 year old each had a second piece.
Stacey S. October 16, 2014
I made this cake, using dried Turkish figs......I cut down the butter to 6 tbsp and the brown sugar to 3/4 came out perfect! GORGEOUS cake! The 40 minutes was plenty of baking time. Going to freeze another for Thanksgiving.
Stacey S. October 15, 2014
I need to make this now, and I will. :)
Elise L. August 17, 2014
Wish I'd found the comments before I began! I had the same problem with the cake being underdone when cooked for the prescribed time. Mine was very raw in the middle, but an extra half hour made an enormous difference. However, even once cooked, I didn't love it. The strong lemon flavor didn't work with the figs and it was way too sweet.
Sharon October 17, 2013
I made this yesterday with figs from my tree. It is one of the best cakes I have ever made and I have been baking for years. Omitted the rosemary, added a little more lemon zest and covered the bottom of the cast iron skillet with figs (about 15 figs halved), and baked for 60 minutes in a convection oven. Perfect!
Spklmtn September 4, 2013
Agree with halfing the amount of butter and sugar for the glaze, at the very least halfing the sugar as it was a little too sweet. Would use more rosemary next time as I found the flavour too subtle! Otherwise, fantastic cake and perfect for the end of summer.
danielle August 27, 2013
I LOVE this recipe! I subbed gluten free flour, used half the sugar, and vegan butter. It is rich and delicious, sweet and fresh! Thank you!
kfoodz June 1, 2013
We had same experience as HalfPint... after the recipe stated cooking time, the skewer came out clean but then on turning out, the cake was not cooked and the caramelisation had not yet occurred. We now have flipped it back into the pan and have it back in the oven, hoping for some magic!
kfoodz June 1, 2013
...despite this setback I must say the sauce is DELICIOUS!
kfoodz June 2, 2013
Putting the whole thing back in the pan and baking for a further 30 minutes resulted in an absolutely gorgeous cake. One change we will make next time.... less figs (thinly sliced) for a more subtle topping.
R S. April 21, 2013
Excellent cake, it make my friend with the excess figs very happy. I would try less brown sugar and may no rosemary. I am also going to try a pear/hazelnut variation
Daryl G. December 25, 2012
Made this for a Christmas Eve party. It took some time to find figs but the dish was just outstanding. Everyone just loved it!
Nanny L. October 27, 2012
Absolutly delicious! I followed the recipe to a "T" and was completely satisfied. It actually got better on the second and third day!
HalfPint September 27, 2012
Made this last night. Assembly was a breeze, but then disaster. After 40 minutes of baking, it looked done and toothpick came out clean, so I cooled as directed for 10 mins and then inverted onto large plate. Half the sugar had not caramelized and remained stuck in the pan. There was a lot of butter that had not caramelized with the brown sugar. Cooled for 10 minutes and inverted on to large plate. After 20 minutes cooling, I tried to cut a slice and found that the batter was still raw. So back into the pan and baked for another 20 minutes. The final product was a bit ugly because of the transport back into the pan for more baking. Flavor was good, but not enough cake which I was looking forward to. I used too many figs, because my figs were on the smallish side and I covered the bottom of the pan with it, but the pan was a regular 9" metal cake pan. So I don't know why the sugar didn't totally caramelize. Additionally, I think there's too much butter and sugar used for the glaze. I think this would work with half those amounts. I'll try it again soon with these adjustments.
kfoodz June 1, 2013
We had same experience as you!... after the recipe stated cooking time, the skewer came out clean but then on turning out, the cake was not cooked and the caramelisation had not yet occurred. We now have flipped it back into the pan and have it back in the oven, hoping for some magic!