/Zucchini Upside-Down Cake

Zucchini Upside-Down Cake

I can feel bath season coming on.  I can expect for my shower curtain to be untucked from my bathtub, I can expect to make a new batch of mustard bath soak every week, I can expect to likely drop my phone into the water before bath season is done.  

Bath season is also vegetable season though every season is technically vegetable season.  It’s my desire for everything roasted and toasted that led me to this place, with both mustard bath ingredients and zucchini cake ingredients on my kitchen counter. 

All of this to say that… I put vegetables on our cake (not mustard – not yet). I took a perfectly lovely spice cake and not only put vegetables inside, I put them on top, well… bottom, too.  Fall seems like a good time to experiment with ways we can roast, toast, and caramelize so let’s! 

This is a simple fall spice cake, the kind you toss together in one bowl with a whisk making it a very reasonable cake to make on a weekend morning, or weekday night.  It’s an everyday cake and we’re technically getting our vegetables in, too so technically, we all win! 

Here’s what you’ll need for this flipped spice cake:  

  • a heap of raw shredded zucchini plus sliced zucchini rounds for the bottom of the pan / top of the cake.
  • brown sugar and butter that will make a quick caramel in the bottom of the cake pan. 
  • flour and leavening and salt because cake. 
  • cinnamon and nutmeg and maybe a few shakes of ground ginger if you’re feeling it. 
  • eggs to bind and oil to moisten the batter.

Start by whisking the sugars together with the eggs.  

You can do this by hand with a whisk – just whip to glossy and smooth.  

Add the oil and whisk to combined.  

I use oil for this cake because I think it makes for a more moist crumb.  Besides, we’ll get plenty of butter flavor from the bottom of the pan as the cake batter cooks atop butter, brown sugar, and zucchini rounds.  

Into the wet batter with the shredded zucchini, adding even more moisture to the final cake. 

To our flour we’ll add ground cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, and salt. 

And gently spoon the flour into the wet ingredients.  

I found that whisking the flour into the wet ingredients in two batches did the trick! 

The batter will be glossy and a pourable thick, studded with zucchini shreds.  Similar to a pancake batter which… I feel like you could very easily fry this batter on a griddle and call it a pancake – but that’s a cake for another time. 

Allow the batter to rest while you melt the butter in the cake pan.  

Just allow the butter to melt in the cake pan as the oven preheats.  Sprinkle with brown sugar. 

And pack in the zucchini rounds. 

Pour the thick batter over the zucchini and butter mixture.  The next time we see these gems they’ll be cooked and lightly caramelized!

See those little peaks of butter around the edges?  That’s the good stuff.  All that flavor will bake into the outside of the cake.  

Bake the cake for 30 minutes or so… maybe a touch longer, until the cake is just firmed through the center. 

Remove from the oven and start the countdown!  I give this cake 10-15 minutes of rest in the pan before running a butterknife around the edges of the pan and inverting it (as confidently as you can) onto a serving platter or cooling rack.  

You could enjoy this cake just as it is – because wow it’s simple and delicious. OR you could sprinkle the cake with more granulated sugar and bust out the kitchen torch!  

I like a little caramelized crisp to this cake so torch it just before serving.  Or just serve plain and feel like you’re eating your vegetables with your cake and everything is A-OK! 

Zucchini Upside-Down Cake



  1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, vanilla and sugars until well combined, smooth, and glossy. Add the shredded zucchini and stir to combine.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.
  4. Add the dry ingredients all at once to the zucchini mixture. Whisk into a thick batter, making sure to scrape along the bottom of the bowl to find any hidden bits of flour or wet ingredients.
  5. Place butter in a 8-inch round pan. Place the pan in the oven for just a few minutes to melt the butter.
  6. Remove the hot pan from the oven, sprinkle with half of the brown sugar, top the sugar and melted butter with zucchini rounds to cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and top with the cake batter.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake is cooked through. Test with a toothpick in the center of a cake, if the toothpick comes out doughy the cake needs more time in the oven. If the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs, it’s done baking!
  8. Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes. Use a butterknife to slide around the edge between the cake and the pan. Invert the cake onto a plate, zucchini side up.
  9. Just before serving, sprinkle the cake with granulated sugar and use a kitchen torch to brown the sugar and toast the zucchini. Enjoy immediately!