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Upside-Down Quince and Honey Spice Cake

Scott Phillips

Servings: 10 to 12

Poached quinces turn a beautiful rosy color, which make a stunning top to the cake when arranged in concentric circles.


For the poached quinces:

  • 3 medium to large fresh quinces
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) dry white wine
  • 3-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 3-inch strips fresh orange zest (use a vegetable peeler and avoid the white pith)

For the cake:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 8-1/2 oz. (1-3/4 cups plus 2 Tbs.) unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 oz. (1/2 cup) almond flour
  • 5 oz. (10 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Unsweetened whipped cream, for serving (optional)


Poach the quinces:

  • Peel the quinces, trim the ends, and cut them in half from stem to base, leaving the cores intact. Place the quince halves in a 4-quart saucepan and add the entire bottle of white wine, the granulated sugar and the orange zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and then lower the heat to a bare simmer. Weight the quinces down with a small plate to submerge them in the liquid and poach until pink and tender, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool the quinces to room temperature in the syrup. Transfer the quinces and syrup to a container and refrigerate overnight.

Make the cake:

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Coat a 10-inch round cake pan with the cooking spray, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, and lightly coat the paper.Using a sharp knife, halve each quince and run the knife under the cores to remove them. Cut the quinces into 1/8th-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices in slightly overlapping concentric circles in the the prepared cake pan until the bottom of the pan is covered. (You may have some slices of quince leftover to enjoy with cheese or add to applesauce).  Pour 3/4 cup of the poaching syrup over the quinces, reserving the rest.

    Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves into a medium bowl. Whisk in the almond flour and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, dark brown sugar, and honey on medium speed until creamy smooth and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.

    Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed to combine them, then turn the speed to medium and beat the batter until smooth, thick and emulsified, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl, about 1 minute. Spoon the batter over the quinces in the pan, and with an offset spatula, gently and evenly spread it to the sides of the pan, smoothing the surface.

    Bake the cake, rotating it 180 degrees after 20 minutes to ensure even browning, until it springs back lightly when touched, and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 15 to 20 minutes. While still warm, run a knife around the sides of the cake and invert the cake gently onto the rack to cool completely. If any slices of quince break or are dislodged, gently place them back on the cake with a butter knife.

    Before serving the cake, brush the surface of the quince with some of the leftover poaching syrup. Serve the cake with dollops of the unsweetened whipped cream (if using).

Make Ahead Tips

The quinces can be poached up to 2 weeks ahead and refrigerated in their poaching liquid.

Wrap and store leftovers at room temperature for up to 3 days.


Rate or Review

Reviews (4 reviews)

  • Jay25 | 09/23/2018

    Thank You very much for this recipe took a bit longer but taste geat.

  • user-6963828 | 11/30/2017

    I followed the recipe exactly but had some issues: My mistake - I used a springform pan and most of the syrup leaked out (luckily onto the tray under the pan). I cooked the cake for about 50 minutes, it looked done and the tester came out clean. However when I went to serve it the cake was undercooked in the center. If the syrup had not leaked out it would have been worse. However the cooked portion of the cake tasted fabulous! I am going to try this again and would appreciate any feedback. I want to give the next one 5 stars. Should I reduce or thicken the syrup?

  • pikpik | 10/05/2016

    A special dessert for your holiday table! We make this every year for Thansksgiving and it is always a crowd pleaser. The only challenge is cutting the quince, but is worth it!

  • aichelpea | 01/09/2012

    I made this for Rosh Hashanah in place of my traditional apple honey cake. This cake is delicious! As for the poached quinces themselves, the syrup they make is amazing, I mixed some of the leftover into mashed sweet potatoes with extra butter and it made for a stunning side dish. I'm definitely going to make this cake again next year.

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