upside-down fig cake scented with ghee and cardamom


Nik Sharma

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upside-down fig cake scented with ghee and cardamom

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3.7 from 3 reviews

There are three tricks to this cake, one – caramelize the sugar before it goes into the cake pan, two – line the cake pan with parchment paper, which helps cut back on the amount of extra butter that would normally be needed to let the cake release easily, and three – bake at a low temperature so the fruit cooks evenly. The result is an upside-down cake that is scented with the perfume of ghee, cardamom, and figs mixed in with the bittersweet notes of caramel.

This recipe first appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, on September 11, 2018.

  • Yield: One 9 in/23 cm cake


12 to 14 medium size/about 1 lb/455 g fresh figs

4 Tbsp/60 ml melted ghee

3/4 cup/150 g sugar [divided into ¼ cup/50cg and ½ cup/100 g]

1/8 tsp cream of tartar

2 Tbsp water

¼ cup/60 ml maple syrup

1 cup/140 g all-purpose flour

seeds from 4 green cardamom pods, ground

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

4 oz/110 g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

2 large eggs at room temperature


  1. Preheat the oven to 325F/165C.
  2. Grease and line a circular 9 in/23 cm baking pan with 2 Tbsp ghee and parchment paper. Cut the tops of 8 to 9 figs and slice them across their length into 4 slices. Cover the surface of the greased pan with the fig slices. Chop about 6 to 8 figs and keep them in a small bowl.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of the sugar, cream of tartar, and water on medium-high heat until the sugar caramelizes and turns a light amber color. Drizzle the hot liquid over the sliced figs in the pan, followed by the maple syrup. Keep aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, dry whisk the flour, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and keep aside. Reserve 2 Tbsp of the dry mixture, sprinkle it over the chopped figs in the small bowl and toss to coat evenly.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, 2 Tbsp ghee, and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar on medium-high speed for about 3 to 4 minutes using the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Then whisk in one egg at a time until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on low speed until combined. Fold in the chopped figs with a silicone spatula. Transfer the batter to the cake pan and spread it evenly using an offset spatula. Bake in the oven for about 55 to 60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean from the center. Once baked, remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan over a wire rack. To release the cake, run a knife around the edges of the cake and then place a serving plate over the baking dish, then carefully invert the cake over the plate and remove the pan. Peel the parchment paper off. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature. This cake will stay good for up to 4 days if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 


  • The cream of tartar helps prevent the caramel from turning hard after baking. This creates a syrupy effect on the figs.

8 Responses

  1. Cake looks beautiful and delicious! Cannot wait to make it.

    Do you have recommendation as to how to make this beautiful cake without eggs? Thank you.

    1. Unfortunately I don’t and can’t recommend one with confidence. Try a commercial egg substitute from the grocery store to see if that works.

  2. Figs are too delicately flavored and wet, their flavor was buried with the cardamom and maple syrup and they made soggy pockets in the cake.

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