Bumbleberry Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake

A jumble of summer berries forms a stained-glass lid on Gail Simmons’ Bumbleberry Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake.

Bumbleberry Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake

By Gail Simmons, Food & Wine

In Canada, where cookbook author Gail Simmons grew up, “bumbleberry” refers to a mix of berries—usually blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Here, she layers the fruit in a wide skillet over a thin layer of sugar that caramelizes while the cake bakes. The tender, lemony buttermilk cake is the perfect canvas for the berries.

Active Time: 20 MIN
Total Time: 1 HR 20 MIN
Yield: Serves 8


  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (6 ounces), cubed, at room temperature, divided
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 cups mixed fresh berries (such as blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries [blackberries 
halved if large])
  • 4 teaspoons lemon zest, divided 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (about 5 3/4 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup whole buttermilk
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting
  • Sweetened whipped cream, for serving (optional)

How to Make It

Step 1    

Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium. Stir in lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring, until mixture is bubbly and sugar is mostly dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

Step 2    

Toss berries and 2 teaspoons lemon zest in a medium bowl until combined. Arrange berries evenly over sugar mixture in skillet. (If using halved large blackberries, place cut sides up.) Set aside.

Step 3    

Place remaining 1/2 cup butter and remaining 1 cup sugar in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract and remaining 2 teaspoons lemon zest.

Step 4    

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture one-third at a time to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating on low speed until just combined after each addition. Spoon batter over berry mixture in skillet, and spread gently over berries.

Step 5    

Place skillet on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until cake is lightly browned and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool 30 minutes.

Step 6    

Run a butter knife around edge of cake; place skillet over low to just warm bottom, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; carefully invert cake onto a large plate. Serve cake lightly dusted with powdered sugar and, if desired, with whipped cream on the side.


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Cake Magazine: Bumbleberry Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake
Bumbleberry Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake
A jumble of summer berries forms a stained-glass lid on Gail Simmons’ Bumbleberry Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake.
Cake Magazine
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