Sweet syrupy cooked quince layered on top of a tender, spiced molasses cake makes a beautiful and delicious fall dessert. This quince cake recipe will become a new seasonal go-to for guests and special occasions.
When the cooler weather of fall starts to set in, there’s nothing I love better than warming up my kitchen, and our taste buds, with those familiar baking spices. Recently, I’ve discovered that they enhance a seasonal fruit that we have grown to love in desserts.
This quince cake is made by layering tender slices of poached quince on top of a moist cake infused with molasses, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon. The sweet and mildly spicy flavor of cooked quince makes the most delicious topping to this upside-down style cake.
It looks absolutely stunning, so it’s perfect to serve at a holiday party or to guests. But I love that this quince cake is also simple enough to make whenever you want a slice of autumn flavor as a sweet treat.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Full of fall spices and seasonal quince to create a one-of-a-kind dessert.
- Looks beautiful but is simple to make for parties or guests.
- Can be made ahead up to 2 days.
This cake is made up of two easy layers, the sticky quince topping and the tender cake. I also like to have some fresh whipped cream on hand to serve on top of the warm slices.
- Poached Quince – Quince always requires cooking before eating, and this easy poached quince recipe is perfect for getting the fruit ready for this cake. Reserve some of the syrup it cooks in too.
- Butter – I used unsalted butter, both for the topping and the cake batter.
- Brown sugar – Dark brown sugar is best, but golden, light brown, or coconut sugar will also work.
- Flour – Use an all-purpose white flour.
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Spices – A combination of ground ginger, cloves, and cinnamon flavor the cake, and enhance the natural, subtle spice of quince.
- Fresh ginger – Peel fresh ginger and grate it finely, you’ll need 1 tablespoon.
- Eggs – Eggs will incorporate into your cake batter better if they’re at room temperature when you begin baking.
- Molasses – You want unsulphured molasses, which is the kind most commonly sold at grocery stores. Honey or maple syrup can work, but will produce a less rich flavor.
- Buttermilk – You can either purchase or make buttermilk. To make it, combine ½ tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice per every 1/2 cup of milk.
Preheat your oven to 350°F and prepare a 9-inch round cake pan by lining it with parchment, buttering the bottom and sides, then lightly dusting it with flour. Cut your poached quince into ¼” thick slices.
To make the topping, melt butter, brown sugar, and salt over medium heat until it’s a liquid syrup. Pour it into the prepared cake pan and arrange the sliced quince over top in a circular pattern so the entire bottom is covered.
Start the cake batter by whisking the dry ingredients together. Then combine the remaining butter and dark brown sugar in a separate bowl. Beat them until they’re light and fluffy. Add the grated ginger and beat again.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then switch the speed to low, adding the eggs one at a time until each is fully incorporated. Keep it running while you slowly pour in the molasses.
Next you’ll add in the buttermilk and dry ingredients in three additions, alternating dry and milk each time. Once you’ve added the last of each, finish folding the batter together by hand. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure it’s completely and thoroughly mixed.
Pour the batter slowly over the layered quince slices. Gently tap the bottom of the pan on a hard surface to knock out any air bubbles. Then, pop it in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out cleanly.
Let it cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then place a plate over the top and flip it. The cake should release, and the layered quince will now be on top. If any slices stick to the parchment, just gently put them back into place.
Serving and Storage
All that’s left is to brush the reserved poaching liquid over the top of your quince cake and serve. A warm slice with whipped cream is how we like it, but you can make it ahead and serve it at room temperature too. It can be stored in an airtight container on the counter for two days.
Quince is a unique fruit with a wonderful sweet, spicy autumn flavor and I hope you’ll consider baking with it often throughout the season. Check out my guide on what quince is and how to eat it for more inspiration. And, don’t forget to check out my other fruit-inspired cakes too.
Ginger and Quince Upside-Down Cake
- 4 tablespoons (60g) unsalted butter
- ½ cup (100g) packed brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 3-4 poached quince , cut into ¼-inch slices, poaching liquid reserved
- 1 ½ cups (190g) all-purpose flour , plus more for dusting
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ cup (115g) unsalted butter , softened to room temperature
- 1/3 cup (70g) packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 large eggs , at room temperature
- 1/3 cup (80ml) unsulfured molasses
- ¾ cup (180ml) buttermilk , at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons quince poaching liquid
- Whipped cream
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with baking paper; butter the sides and parchment paper. Dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess.
- In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, and salt. Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until the butter and sugar melts into the syrup, for about 1-2 minutes.
- Pour the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, then arrange the quince slices in a circle covering the bottom of the pan and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ground ginger, and ground cloves. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until the mixture is fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the grated fresh ginger and beat for 1 minute more. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well in between each addition. With a mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the molasses and beat for 1 more minute. The mixture may appear curdled, but that is OK.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, tap the pan gently on a countertop to get rid of air bubbles and smooth the top of the batter.
- Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then invert onto a plate. Remove sides of springform pan and parchment paper. Replace any quince slices that have stuck on the parchment paper.
- Brush the quince poaching liquid over the top of the cake. Serve the cake warm or room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream. Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.