Upside-down baking is irresistible. Whether it's in the form of a cake or a tarte tatin (a rustic French fruit tart), the common denominator is a gorgeous, gooey caramelized bottom, which, once inverted, becomes the top of the cake or tart. Nestled in the sticky caramelized goodness are hunks of seasonal fruit, which release their juices to mingle with the butter and sugar topping and seep into the pastry while it bakes. When finished, the entire confection is flipped, bottom-side up, revealing its fruit-studded top like jewels in a crown.
The other winning quality of upside-down desserts is that they are generously flexible with the seasons. In the fall, pears and apples are the fruit of choice. In the summer, stone fruit and berries display their wonders. Mix and match to your taste. It's impossible to go wrong. I had fun with this cake, letting the contents of my fruit bowl dictate the topping. While figs and raspberries may sound like an unlikely combination, they are a perfect bridge between summer and autumn fruit, and nicely complement each other, with the tart and juicy berries jazzing up the sticky-sweet and sultry figs.
Full disclosure: I've made this cake with only raspberries, as well as only figs -- and it's all good. Like I said: Upside-down baking is flexible (and delicious).