{recipe} Caramel-y Banana Upside Down Cake

This is a pretty easy cake that was inspired by a delicious, gooey pear-ginger cake we used to make at Rose Pistola. I had no recollection of the recipe so I made a few attempts and came up with this excellent facsimile of the original cake. Of course, it doesn’t have to be made with bananas, you can use another kind of tasty fruit like peaches, mangoes, pears, plums, or apples. You can get creative with adding citrus zest, toasted coconut, or chopped nuts into the batter as well.

So the deal is that you make a caramel sauce, put it in a pan, put fruit in the pan, cake batter on top, and then when it’s hot from the oven you have to flip it over right away or else the caramel part hardens and you can’t flip it out. One time I made two of these- one in a square pan with mangoes, and one in a round pan with bananas. I flipped the banana one out OK, but the square pan made it really hard to flip. I solicited my big sister’s help and before you knew it, there were sticky mangoes and cake on the floor and I was trying to pin the blame all on my sister despite her loud protestations. But it was TOTALLY her fault.

Caramel-y Banana Upside Down Cake


  • 3 bananas, cut in slices (I like them sliced lengthwise for the look of it, but you can slice them however you like)
  • about 3/4 cup sugar (more if you want more caramel action)
  • 1/2 cup (1 cube) butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla or a splash of bourbon
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger or 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • big pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk


  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • Arrange cut fruit in the bottom of a pie plate.
  • Combine 3/4 cup (or more) sugar with equal parts water in a pan. Put over high heat and wait until the sugar turns amber colored. When it does, turn off heat and add 3 Tablespoons of the butter and the vanilla (or bourbon) and swirl the pan to melt and combine. Immediately pour the mixture over the fruit.
  • In a mixer, combine the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, spices, and salt (If you like more spice, feel free to double the spice amounts.)
  • Cut up the remaining 5 tablespoons butter into small pieces and carefully mix into the dry ingredients, on low speed. Don’t get the butter all incorporated or the cake will be chewy, not tender. Leave the butter in smallish pieces (around the size of peas.)
  • Stop the mixer and put the egg and milk in. Mix just until incorporated, still being careful about keeping the butter in discernible pieces.
  • Spread the dough over the fruit/caramel action. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • When it comes out, flip it over within about 5 minutes or it will stick. It should come out super easily. Put a plate on top of the pan, grip it with potholders and flip it quickly.
  • Don’t ask your sister to help you or it might fall on the floor.

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