Kid-friendly New Zealand Upside-Down Gooey Kiwi Cakes Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: New Zealand Upside-Down Gooey Kiwi Cakes

Recipe: New Zealand Upside-Down Gooey Kiwi Cakes

New Zealand Upside-Down Gooey Kiwi Cakes

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Snoopytkd/
prep time
15 minutes
cook time
25 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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New Zealand Upside-Down Gooey Kiwi Cakes

We’re excited to feature New Zealand with our recipes today! The kiwi in our Upside-Down Gooey Kiwi Cakes gives the cakes a pleasant sourness, and the texture is gooey from the pectin in the kiwi, which we think you and your kid chefs will love. The cakes are sweet enough without the frosting, but extra delicious with it. You could opt to dust your cakes with powdered sugar or drizzle them with a glaze made from powdered sugar and orange juice instead of making the Sweet Cream Frosting. It’s up to you. Kiwi presents a great reminder for kids not to judge a book by its cover, because what’s inside is so very often different from what we judge by the outside. Enjoy baking up these sweet-sour, super tasty cakes and traveling to The Land of Middle Earth this week with your kids!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • cream :

    to mix foods together until they become a smooth, uniform blend, like butter and sugar.

  • fold :

    to gently and slowly mix a light ingredient into a heavier ingredient so as not to lose air and to keep the mixture tender, such as incorporating whipped egg whites into a cake batter or folding blueberries into pancake batter; folding is a gentler action than mixing or whisking.

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • preheat :

    to set an oven to the desired temperature a few minutes before cooking, so it reaches that temperature by the time you place the food in it.

  • wet vs dry :

    to mix wet and dry ingredients separately before combining them: dry ingredients are flours, leavening agents, salt, and spices; wet ingredients are those that dissolve or can be dissolved (sugar, eggs, butter, oils, honey, vanilla, milk, and juices).

  • whisk :

    to beat or stir ingredients vigorously with a fork or whisk to mix, blend, or incorporate air.

Equipment Checklist

  • Oven
  • Muffin pan
  • Mixing bowls (2)
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Whisk
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Wooden spoon or rubber spatula


New Zealand Upside-Down Gooey Kiwi Cakes

  • 1 egg **(for EGG ALLERGY sub 1 ripe banana (peeled and mashed) + 1 extra tsp baking soda)**
  • 1/2 C (1 stick) butter, softened **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub olive oil)**
  • 6 T granulated sugar + more for sprinkling
  • 4 fresh kiwi **(for KIWI ALLERGY sub 1 C raspberries)**
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY use certified gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor—check label)**
  • 3/4 C orange juice (or milk or dairy-free/nut-free milk)
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free flour blend + 1 T extra sugar + 1/4 C extra orange juice or milk)**
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • nut-free oil for greasing cupcake wells

Food Allergen Substitutions

New Zealand Upside-Down Gooey Kiwi Cakes

  • Egg: For 1 egg, substitute 1 ripe banana (peeled and mashed) + 1 extra tsp baking soda.
  • Dairy: Substitute olive oil for butter. 
  • Kiwi fruit: For 4 kiwis, substitute 1 C raspberries. 
  • Gluten/Wheat: Use certified gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor. Substitute gluten-free/nut-free flour blend + 1 T extra sugar + 1/4 C extra orange juice or milk for all-purpose flour. 


New Zealand Upside-Down Gooey Kiwi Cakes

preheat + crack + whisk + cream

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Crack 1 egg and add it to a mixing bowl. Whisk! Then add 1/2 cup softened butter and 6 tablespoons of sugar to the egg. Whisk to cream together.

peel + chop + slice

Peel 4 kiwi. Chop 2 of them small enough so that they resemble pulp. Slice the other 2.

mix + measure + add

Mix in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of kiwi pulp to the egg mixture. Next, measure and add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 3/4 cup fresh orange juice.

measure + add + fold

In a separate mixing bowl, measure and add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Mix and then fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until all the flour is invisible.

grease + sprinkle + spoon + bake

Grease a muffin pan with oil. Sprinkle each well with sugar, then layer a slice of kiwi on the bottom of each well. Spoon 2 tablespoons of batter into each well. Bake for about 18 to 25 minutes, or until cakes have cooked through and are golden brown on top (the texture will be slightly gooey!) Serve upside down with a dollop of Sweet Cream Frosting (see recipe)!

Surprise Ingredient: Kiwi Fruit!

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Photo by Kim Howell/ (kiwi fruit hanging in a New Zealand orchard)

Hi! I’m Kiwi!

"Kia ora (KYOR-uh)! I'm a Kiwi from New Zealand, and that's how we say "hello." It's a Maori phrase, and "kiwi" is a Maori word! The Maori are the native people of New Zealand. On the outside, I'm a small, fuzzy, brown, egg-shaped fruit. On the inside, I've got sweet and slightly tart, green flesh with a white center surrounded by tiny, black edible seeds. I taste a bit like a combination of strawberry, banana, and pineapple flavors. In addition to being a healthy snack all by myself, I'm often combined with strawberry in juices and other fruits in salads. I can even be chopped up and added to salsas and cakes!"


  • People often think the kiwi originated in New Zealand, but it actually came first from China. It was referred to as "Chinese Gooseberry" before being renamed "kiwifruit" by New Zealanders. People in the United States and Canada have shortened the name to "kiwi." 
  • The kiwi was first mentioned in Chinese history in the 12th century. It was introduced to New Zealand in the early 20th century. 
  • Influencers thought the former name negatively associated the fruit with the Cold War. So they renamed it "kiwifruit" because they thought it looked like the Kiwi bird. (New Zealanders call it kiwifruit rather than kiwi to differentiate it from the bird, and themselves, since people from New Zealand are sometimes called Kiwis!) See the image of the bird below and judge for yourself! Notice anything different about the bird? It doesn't have wings!
  • Before the Chinese ate kiwis for pleasure, they were given to children to help them grow and women to recover from childbirth. What other fruits and vegetables have you learned about that were used as medicine before food? 
  • Kiwis today are grown all around the world: China, New Zealand, North America, South Africa, Turkey, Australia, Italy, Chile, and Japan.

Anatomy & Etymology

  • Kiwi is grown on vines like grapes and is a berry, the edible berry of the Kiwi vine, to be exact! A kiwi vine can grow kiwi fruit for up to 30 years!
  • Kiwis are about the size of chicken eggs, and they appear totally different on the inside than they do on the outside. The skin is brown and fuzzy. Cut open a kiwi to discover a bright green flesh that tastes sweet and slightly sour, studded with a circle of tiny black edible seeds in the center. There are varieties of "hairless" kiwis. In fact, there are about 50 different species and hundreds of varieties of kiwi, but usually, you can only find one or two in markets in the United States. 
  • A golden kiwi's skin is smoother than a green kiwi's, and its color is more bronze than brown. The flesh ranges from green to an intense yellow.
  • The fuzzy kiwi's scientific name is Actinidia Deliciosa. It was also named "Yang Tao," which means "sunny peach."
  • Kiwi is a Maori word—Maori is the Polynesian language of the Maori aboriginal people in New Zealand.

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Kiwi growers rely on honey bees to pollinate the flowers. But commercially grown kiwi is hard to pollinate because the flowers don't produce nectar, something that bees love and prefer. Also, each honey bee will visit only one type of flower and maybe only a couple of branches of a single plant, so they are not efficient cross-pollinators. A female kiwifruit plant needs pollen from a male kiwifruit plant, but it might not get it because the honey bees don't bring it there. For this reason, kiwifruit farmers will collect pollen and blow it over female flowers to pollinate them, essentially mimicking what a good cross-pollinating honey bee would do! 
  • A good, ripe kiwi will be soft to the touch, free of bruises and blemishes, and smooth-skinned. If your kiwi is still hard when you buy it, leave it out at room temperature for a few days to ripen. The more firm the kiwi, the more tart it will be—the softer, the sweeter.
  • You can quicken the ripening process of the kiwi by placing it in a brown paper bag with a ripe banana or apple.
  • We happen to think kiwis taste best, either raw or in juices, but you can cook kiwis; however, their taste and color change when heated.
  • Kiwis are great in smoothies, chopped up and added to fruit salsas, salads, fish tacos, and baked into cakes. 
  • Golden kiwis are sweeter than green kiwis and have a more tropical flavor, similar to mangoes. 


  • Along with avocados, kiwis are the most nutrient-packed fruits of all.
  • Vitamin C helps prevent colds and flus. Two kiwis have twice as much Vitamin C as one orange!
  • Vitamin E helps our immune system (like Vitamin C does), and it is good for our eyes and skin.
  • Potassium helps our blood pump through our arteries at the correct rate—not too high, not too low. It's also good for our bones. One kiwi has as much potassium as one banana!
  • Peeper Keeper! Just like carrots, kiwis contain a nutrient our eyes love called lutein.
  • Humans aren't the only ones who love to eat kiwis. Monkeys and deer eat them, too!
  • Most people don't eat a kiwi's skin—but it's totally edible. In fact, the skin contains valuable fiber and other nutrients that are not present in the green kiwi flesh itself.


History of Upside-Down Cake!

Photo by MW Photography/Adobe Stock
  • The concept of baking a cake upside down began centuries ago, and those first upside-down cakes were cooked in cast iron skillets. 
  • It was easy for home cooks to add fruit and sugar to the bottom of the skillet with a simple cake batter on top, then place the skillet over the cook fire. They would then flip the cake over onto a plate, displaying the delicious fruit with its juice seeping into the cake. 
  • The story goes that homemakers could use this upside-down technique because several other pantry items had been developed, giving them time to make a pretty and delicious cake.
  • Traditional Upside-Down Cakes include the American Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, French Tarte Tatin, and Brazilian Bolo de Banana.

Let's Learn About New Zealand!

Photo by GagliardiPhotography/
  • New Zealand is an island country consisting of around 600 islands. North Island and South Island are the two largest. The country has several different types of landscapes that include mountains, glaciers, volcanos, sub-tropical beaches, and fjords.
  • New Zealand is about the same size as Japan, but with half as many people. New Zealand is one of the least populated places in the world.
  • New Zealand's capital is Wellington, but Auckland is the largest city.
  • Thirty percent of the country is covered in forest.
  • The official languages of New Zealand are English, Te Reo Maori (the native language), and New Zealand Sign Language.
  • Maori (pronounced Mour-ee) is the name of the indigenous people of New Zealand. Their name for their country is Aotearoa, which means "land of the long white cloud."
  • "Hello," "Goodbye," and "Thank you" can all be said using the Maori phrase "Kia Ora" (key-or-rah). 
  • New Zealand gave women the right to vote in 1893, making it the first country to do so.
  • A mountain climber from New Zealand in 1953 was the first to ascend Mt. Everest.
  • Did you know that the world's first commercial bungee jump was a 141-foot leap off the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown in 1988?
  • In New Zealand, you'll see people driving on the left side of the road like they do in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, and other countries. 
  • The first person to split the atom was also from New Zealand! This was in 1919.
  • Due to its location, New Zealanders are the first people in the world to greet a new day. Could that be why many inventions and "first-time" occurrences have happened in New Zealand?!
  • Hector's dolphin is the world's smallest dolphin and is found only in New Zealand's waters.
  • The kakapo is a parrot that doesn't fly and lives only in New Zealand.
  • No snakes live on land in New Zealand! However, sea snakes are sometimes seen off the coast when they've wandered south from warmer, tropical waters.
  • Traditional foods of New Zealand include hangi (a Maori slow-cooked dish of meat and vegetables), crayfish, hokey pokey ice cream (caramelized honeycomb), kina (a kind of native sea urchin), jaffas (orange chocolate candies), pavlova (a meringue cake), kumara (a special kind of sweet potato), cheese rolls, whitebait fritters (made from tiny freshwater fish), and manuka honey.

What's It Like to Be a Kid in New Zealand?

  • Although it was once discouraged, education in the Maori language, spoken by New Zealand's native people, is now offered in school, starting in preschool. 
  • New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere, below the equator, so kids celebrate the December holidays in summer! They often go camping with their families during the summer months of December through March.
  • Kids spend a lot of time outdoors playing and exploring. Sports they participate in include rugby, netball (similar to basketball), cricket, soccer, and swimming. 
  • Families can visit the Hobbiton Village, a sheep farm, and other sites on the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour in Matamata on the North Island, where the Hobbit movie and Lord of the Rings trilogy were filmed.
  • Breakfasts are similar to those in the United States; however, kids in New Zealand (and Australia) sometimes have "pikelets" for breakfast. Pikelets are a smaller, thicker, more fluffy version of a pancake.
  • Some foods kids eat in New Zealand are also found in the United Kingdom since it once was a colony of the UK. These foods include fish and chips and Marmite on bread or toast. Marmite is a salty spread made from brewer's yeast extract.
  • Popular sweets include Hokey Pokey ice cream, a New Zealand flavor consisting of vanilla ice cream with small pieces of honeycomb toffee. Hokey Pokey is also the name for the honeycomb toffee. Another favorite is Pavlova, a dessert made of meringue, fruit, and whipped cream. Yum!

THYME for a Laugh

Why couldn’t the teddy bear finish his cupcake?

Because he was stuffed!

The Yolk's On You

What do you call an island populated entirely by cupcakes?


Lettuce Joke Around

What did the kiwi skin say to the kiwi? 

"I've got you covered."

That's Berry Funny

Why did the kiwi go out with the prune? 

Because he couldn't find a date!

THYME for a Laugh

What did the cupcake tell the frosting?

"I’d be muffin without you."

The Yolk's On You

What’s the difference between a baseball cupcake and a baseball muffin?

The batter!

The Yolk's On You

What happens to "kiwi upside-down cake" if you turn it right side up? 

It becomes "kiwi cake."

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