Lemon, Honey & Ginger Upside-Down Cake

Brendon's Lemon Honey & Ginger Upside Down CakeCould this be the first recipe inspired by a heavy cold?! I’ve always loved lemon cakes and was recently playing around with an upside-down version inspired by Hannah Miles’ recipe in The Gluten-Free Baker. At the time I was making regular hot lemon, honey and ginger for my partner to ease his cold and sore throat. This is such a warm and soothing combination in a drink but I wondered if it might also work well in a cake.  Friends who tasted the result all agreed that it is a knockout: the tartness of the lemons balanced beautifully by the sweet honey and caramel and then the warm notes of ginger coming through from the sponge. I’ve added a ring of whole almonds around the edge, partly for appearance and partly to add some crunch alongside the unctuous caramelized lemon slices. Served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream this would make a terrific dessert.

Equipment needed

1 round 10”/25cm cake tin

Ingredients – Cake

  • 150g (5½oz) butter
  • 150g (5½oz) caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp of almond extract
  • 200g plain flour, sifted
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder, sifted
  • Zest of 3 lemons (keep bodies for topping)
  • 150g chopped crystallised ginger (the one with the sugar on it, not the one in syrup)
  • 125ml (4fl oz) full-fat milk

Ingredients – Caramel Topping

  • 125g (4½oz) caster sugar
  • 50g (1¾oz) butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 lemons + the zested three from above
  • 150g of whole, unpeeled almonds
  • 30ml (1fl oz) runny honey – for glazing when cake is cold.


Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Line-base the tin with non-stick parchment and allow ½” of paper up the sides. (This will greatly help when you turn the cake out as no bottom parts will stick).

Step 1 – The topping

Dry caramelise the sugar until it turns a mid-amber colour. Pour into base lined tin and move the tin around in your hands to help spread it across the base. The caramel will set but this will liquefy again during the baking.

Now line the outer edge of the tin with the whole almonds to form a border for the cake.

Next cut the top and bottom from the five lemons. Using a chopping board, slice away the peel and pith in vertical slices from top to bottom of all 5 lemons. Cut each lemon into 6-7 slices depending on size. Remove any pips with a small, sharp knife, but try not to break up the slices. Arrange the slices across the set caramel to completely cover the base up to the almonds round the outside, using any small pieces to fill in any gaps.

Step 2 – The cake

Using a hand-held mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy in a medium-sized bowl– 3 minutes on medium-speed -, then add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition (add a tablespoon of flour if the mixture starts to curdle. This shouldn’t happen if the eggs are at room temperature, but the flour will restore the mixture).

Add the vanilla, then the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk, until everything is incorporated. Now add the zest and the chopped ginger and fold into the cake batter with a spatula or large whisk. Spoon this on top of the lemon base and spread evenly to edges of tin, being careful not to disturb the arrangement. Bake in preheated oven for about 40 – 45 minutes – check for doneness at 40 minutes. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.

Remove from oven and wait 5 minutes before turning it out onto a cooling rack. By this time it will have shrunk from the sides. Very slowly and gently, remove the parchment without disturbing neither the almonds nor the lemon slices – best done after 15 minutes or so when cake has cooled slightly. Finally, gently heat the honey and brush it over the surface of the cake when it is cold. The honey helps to balance out the sharpness of the lemons as does the caramel. This is a delicious cake if you like really like lemon-y cakes. (See photo for finished bake).

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