When we left England to come and live in the Gers in South West France the majority of our friends said how great it would be to leave behind cold and wet winters! Well, not exactly. Without doubt the winters are not usually as horrible as they can be in England but it certainly can be cold and wet.

We had a student staying with us for a séjour linguistic during a weekend that would have seemed normal for the north of England.

So, lessons over and it’s far too miserable to go out. Under these conditions how nice it is to stay in a warm and welcoming kitchen and bake a cake, or a pie or pudding. Not least because we can profit from this at dinner time (if we are lucky lunch time as well). All of our French students adore cooking and are wonderful cooks, or at least are happy to practice their culinary skills.

We decided to cook “an upside-down cake”. The name can be a bit confusing for some but I’ve found that the best explanation is to mention the fabulous and famous Tarte Tatin created by the Tatin sisters at their hotel in Lamotte-Beuvron. This is cooked with the same method.

The “classic” upside down cake is often thought to be made with pineapple, but I guess for every person who agreed with that there would be as many who disagreed. I think these cakes are a great way of enjoying whichever fruits are plentiful, fresh and in season or that you have a ton of in the freezer or store cupboard. It’s also fun as you can decorate it simply or really artistically. The amounts for the topping can be flexible and you can add more to be really indulgent.

Upside-down Cake

Ingredients for an upside-down cake

60 grams butter
60 grams sugar, brown or white or whatever is in the cupboard
Fruit: the fruit needs to be sliced, or in chunks or really whatever you feel like!


100 grams butter
100 grams sugar
100 grams flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder (levure chimique)
2 eggs

  1. Melt together over a low heat the butter and sugar.
  2. Arrange the fruit in a non stick baking tin. Remember that the fruit will be on the top of the finished cake, so it’s nice for it to be “artistic”.
  3. Pour the melted sugar and butter on the fruit.
The upside-down cake mixThe upside-down cake fruit
  1. Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Sift together the flour and baking powder, put aside.
  3. Mix together the butter and sugar either with a wooden spoon or using an electric mixer. Mix until they are well combined and soft and creamy.
  4. Add the 2 eggs and vanilla a little at a time. Continue mixing until they are well combined and soft.
  5. Using a metal spoon gently stir in the flour/baking powder until well combined.
  6. Carefully pour the mix onto the fruit.
The upside-down cake mix being poured onto the fruit
Cook in the oven for approx. 30 minutes. The top should be a pale golden colour.
Allow to cool a little. Put a large plate on the top and carefully invert the tin.
The finished upside-down cake

Et voila or, as many English say, “Bob’s your uncle”. Eat it warm or cold or, if you can’t wait, hot. But take care as the topping is very hot straight from the oven.