quince and amaretto cake


It was my mum’s birthday last week. As previously mentioned on the blog, she’s a fan of ‘healthy-ish’ cakes; those with chunks of fruit or shredded vegetables, almond meal or ricotta, less sugar than the average celebratory kind.

I usually bake her some sort of carrot loaf (like these cupcakes) or a dense orange and almond cake (like this one) but as I had leftover poached quince sitting in the fridge, I decided to experiment with a very old fashioned ‘upside down cake’.


Just so you know: I’d never previously made an upside down cake. Despite trying the ‘classic pineapple‘ version during my childhood, the idea of making my own seemed… well, rather antiquated (perhaps due to mental images of 1920’s housewives!).

However, after spying this stunning creation by Gina De Palma on Fine Cooking, I was hooked on the idea of an upside down quince cake. Ruby wedges of fragrant quince atop a soft, moist almond cake? Definitely mum’s kind of thing.


As I had already poached my autumn quince with a good amount vanilla and spice, I decided to divert from the spiced brown sugar cake batter in Gina’s original recipe. Instead, worked from this recipe, incorporating a generous amount of fragrant lemon zest whilst swapping the brown sugar and honey for white caster sugar. I also added a generous glug of Amaretto instead of vanilla essence (it’s a birthday, after all).

We shared this ruby red autumn beauty last night after a Moroccan-inspired dinner for mum’s birthday. Each slice was served warm (except dad’s, because dad) with a dollop of thickened cream and toasted almonds for crunch.

Happy birthday mama bear. Love you x


quince and amaretto cake

Inspired by Upside Down Quince and Honey Spice Cake by Gina De Palma

Makes one 22cm cake


  • poached quince (about 2 quince worth, or 1/3 of recipe)
  • 250g salted butter (approx 1 cup) at room temperature
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups (250g) white caster sugar
  • 2 tsp finely grated (unwaxed) lemon rind
  • 1/2 cup (50g) almond meal (ground almonds)
  • 3/4 cup (185mL) almond milk (substitute other plant based or dairy milk)
  • 2 1/4 cups (300g) self-raising flour, sifted
  • good glug of Amaretto liqueur (substitute vanilla essence or another sweet almond or hazelnut liqueur)

to serve:

  • 1 cup quince poaching liquid, reduced over the stove into a syrup* (optional)
  • 1/4 cup toasted flaked almonds

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees f). Grease the base and sides of a 22cm springform pan and line well with baking parchment.

Slice the quince wedges into neat slices that are around 1cm thick. Arrange half of the slices in a rough concentric circle around the outer ring of the prepared cake pan (set the rest of the slices aside to create a layer of quince in the centre of the cake). Keep moving inwards until the bottom of the pan is covered (I didn’t bother being too perfectionistic, however you can cut the slices a bit thinner and create overlapping patterns if you desire!). Set aside.

Add the softened butter and sugar into a large bowl. Beat well with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each new addition. Fold in the almond meal and lemon rind, then the milk and Amaretto. Finally, sift over the flour and fold to incorporate.

Carefully spoon half of the batter over the quince slices. Smooth out with the back of a spoon, then layer over the other half of your quince slices. Top with the remaining batter, carefully smoothing the surface to hide any pieces of quince. Tap the tin on a hard surface to ensure the batter fully adheres to the quince at the bottom of the tin.

Place the tin onto an oven tray (to ensure that escaping quince juices don’t end up on the bottom of your oven), then transfer the cake into your preheated oven. Bake, uncovered, for 60-90 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin, releasing the sides of the tin after 5 minutes.

To serve, slice the domed top off the cake (if there is one) and carefully invert it onto a plate. Peel back the baking parchment slowly, ensuring that any broken or dislodged slices of quince are carefully placed back onto the cake with a butter knife.

If desired, pour over a little bit of the reduced quince syrup, smoothing it over the cake with the back of a spoon (I let a bit run down the sides to look pretty). Scatter the toasted almonds around the edges if you fancy. Serve wedges of this cake at room temperature or warm (don’t serve this cake cold or you’ll lose the subtleties of the quince and almond liqueur) with a good spoonful of thickened cream.

*quince syrup: just simmer the reserved poaching liquid in a small pan over medium heat (I add a little splash of white wine vinegar but that’s not even necessary,  I just like a little extra tang) until it becomes thickened and glossy. Watch the pan as you don’t want it to darken too much. When the syrup reaches your desired consistency, allow it to cool slightly, then drizzle some over the cake as above. Serve the remainder with the cake, for people to pour over as desired.

38 responses

  1. Your Mum has the same taste in cakes that I do! I enjoyed your last post about poached quince, and was inspired to buy quince on the weekend for the first time. I followed your recipe and it turned out beautifully – thank you!

  2. Yes!! Very excited to see quinces appearing around town. Can’t wait to get my jam on. I LOVE a good upside down cake. Would never have dreamed of adding a slosh of amaretto – that sounds magnificent! Your lucky mum must’ve loved this. Mums are the best to bake for :)

    • Definitely love baking for mama bear! She was the first one I baked for (a decidedly un-tasty batch of biscuits I think, haha… forgot the sugar!) and she’s a perpetual taste tester that I trust :) Thanks Sas, hope that you managed to get your hands on some quince for jam! Delish xx

  3. Happy Birthday to your mum! I’m sure she enjoyed the cake tremendously, it looks fabulous! In my household we are also more into “healthier” cakes. With regards to upside down cakes I’ve only ever made Tarte Tatin, I think one of my next cakes will be inspired by yours (though not with quince as I don’t know where to find them around here right now). xx

    • Ooh, I have only ever made a caramelised onion version of the tarte tatin but I’ve always wanted to make an apple one. I definitely should look up a good recipe. Thanks for the lovely words Sofia, hope that you managed to track some lovely fruit down for your cake! xx

    • Thanks so much Suzanne, I always look forward to reading your comments. She definitely loved the cake, I am really lucky to have the mum that I was blessed with! x

    • Thanks Karen, it was delicious indeed! Although I’m pretty sure my mum would love anything I made (I am lucky like that, she’s a good ‘un!) x

  4. I’ve only worked with quince once and made jam. I wasn’t at all impressed and know that I need to try it again but with a different recipe. Never would have thought to use quince in a cake, let alone an upside down cake. (The pineapple one you mentioned happened to be my first attempt at baking, far too long ago to mention.) I do really like what I see, Laura, and any cake with Amaretto in it just has to be good.

    • Thanks John! You know what, I’ve never actually made a traditional pineapple upside down cake, I think that I should do it as a rite of passage!! And yes, I think quince can be pretty mundane (or even unpleasant) if it’s not cooked the right way. I was lucky enough to strike gold the first time I tried and now I’m hooked! :)

  5. Now that’s one gorgeous looking birthday cake, Laura…It’s quite possible that the Amaretto lured me in but oh my gosh, your combination of flavors sounds amazing!

    I did have to laugh to myself when I read your comment about the 1920s housewives image. I don’t know, upside down cake is one of those classics that just never seems to go out of style. You’ve certainly proved that with this tempting cake! I’m sure your Mom had a wonderful birthday!

    Thanks so much for sharing, Laura…

    • Thanks Louise! Amaretto is so, so good isn’t it. I love Frangelico too… just a little bit can lift a dish so much :) And yes, haha… you know, I think I’ve got a secret (or not so secret) dream to be a 1920’s housewife for a day. Just so I can wear those smashingly stylish clothes! Everything old is new again, right? Thanks for the lovely comment x

  6. This is a tour de force, Laura! When quince comes back into our market, I’m going to try this. I suppose, I could try it with apples… But I don’t think it will be as good. Happy birthday to your mom!

    • Yes, I’m pretty sure apples would still work brilliantly David! Thanks so much for the kind words and the birthday greeting for mum! Sorry for the late reply, argh… it’s been a busy month so I’m just catching up now!

  7. Your mother is blessed Laura!! I’m sure she loved the whole meal with you all. — and good use of the quince! I made an upside down cake not too far back with more mundane apricots. But I love the fruity sweet topping and (like you mentioned) it jus seems like a homey old fashioned cake. Happy birthday to your mom!!

    • Thanks so much lovely! Ooh, I do love apricots. An apricot upside down cake sounds delicious (not mundane at all!). I might make a few more upside down cakes now that I’ve tried this one. I think the classic pineapple one has to be done (sort of as a baking rite of passage, haha!). Thanks for the greetings for mum! xx

  8. Your Mum and I have the same tastes in cake! Unfortunately, I have no wonderful baker to make me one of these dazzling cakes. Looks gorgeous Laura, and it helps that I love upside down cakes.
    Happy Birthday to your mama. xx

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