Upside Down Pumpkin Cardamom Cake


Six years after my first Pumpkin Bread, enter the Upside Down Pumpkin Cardamom Cake. In many ways this cake it’s not dissimilar from the OG. But his time, instead of olive oil, I’ve used vegetable oil which allows the pumpkin flavor to better shine through since that’s why we’re all here in the first place. I add an interesting blend of ground cardamom, brown sugar, and fresh ginger. And it's still baked in a 9x5 loaf pan...As a pumpkin bread should be.

Active Time: 30 Mins

Total Time: 2 hrs (including baking)

Screenshot 2023-10-20 at 2.31.00 PM


  • 1 pound kabocha squash (from one medium squash)
  • 1 ½” fresh ginger


  • ¾ cup + ½ cup light brown sugar (divided)
  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons, plus more ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (preferably Libby’s brand)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar, plus more for whipped cream
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • Flaky sea salt, for finishing


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream, for serving (optional)


  • 2 large eggs






1. Do some prep:

  • Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan with vegetable oil and line with parchment paper, leaving overhangs on two sides so you can easily lift the cake out once it’s baked.
  • If it's still whole, cut your kabocha squash in half through the root ends. Scoop out and discard the seeds.  Cut one-half of the squash in half (yielding a quarter), and reserve the rest for another use. This quarter should be about a 1-pound piece, give or take. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin off the outside of the quarter of squash until no green bits remain. Then, using a knife, thinly slice the squash into half moons, about ¼” thick.

2. Glaze the squash:

  • In a large skillet combine 1⁄2 cup brown sugar, 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring the liquid to a simmer. As soon as it simmers, add the sliced kabocha and cook shaking the pan occasionally, maintaining a simmer, and gently flipping the squash once or twice to encourage the top pieces to find their way to the bottom of the skillet, until the squash is just tender, pliable, and softened, about 4-6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the squash to a plate, leaving behind the liquid. Continue to simmer the sauce until all of the water has evaporated and the caramel is very thick and bubbling, 2-4 minutes longer.
  • Pour and scrape the caramel sauce into the bottom of the prepared loaf pan. Let the squash cool on the plate while you make the batter.

3. Make the batter:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 ¾ cups flour, 2 ¼ teaspoons ground cardamom, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and ½ teaspoon baking soda.
  • In a separate, larger bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, 1 cup pumpkin puree, ¾ cup brown sugar, and ¾ cup granulated sugar until thick and well combined.
  • Finely grate about 1” of ginger on a microplane, right into the mixture. While whisking constantly, start streaming in 1 cup vegetable oil until it has all incorporated and become a thick paste.
  • Add the bowl of dry ingredients to the wet ones, and stir until well combined.

4. Fill the pan and bake:

  • Now that the squash has cooled, carefully lay the pieces into the prepared loaf pan, in a shingled manner. (if you have to break them in half to make them fit you can). They should overlap and ultimately form a layer of spooning U-shaped pieces of squash. If they don’t nestle perfectly, don’t sweat it.
  • Scrape the batter into the pan, on top of the layered squash. Bake, rotating once halfway through until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 1 hour 20 to 1 hour 30 minutes.
  • Let cool until you can hold it comfortably with your hands. If the top has domed at all, use a serrated knife to cut off the dome and level it off (this will ultimately become the bottom of the cake when we flip it, and those are great snacks!!) Place a large plate on top of the loaf pan and with one swift movement, flip it over. Gently remove the loaf pan to reveal the cake beneath.

5. Serve:

  • Before serving, (if you wish), using a stand mixer or bowl and electric hand mixer, beat 1 ½ cups of heavy cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar, a pinch of salt, and another pinch of ground cardamom until soft peaks form.
  • Season the top of the cake with flaky sea salt. Slice the cake into thick pieces and serve dolloped with cardamom whipped cream.

Filed Under: ,