Blood Orange Upside Down Cake

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake


Few things are as thrilling as cutting into bright, ripe citrus in the dead of winter. It seems so counter intuitive that something so sweet and vibrant is at its best during the darkest part of the year. Late November and December can be especially brutal for those in the Northwest that are inclined towards daily sunshine. Winter citrus to the rescue!


I originally made this cake a few years ago during a rather voracious winter citrus craving. It was a two week period of multiple daily grapefruits, Meyer Lemon ice cream (recipe to come!), and a lot of blood oranges. I saw this cake while perusing the New York Times Cooking Section (a fabulous recipe source by the way) and was immediately hooked.

Covered in a light caramel and nestled in a layer of blood oranges, this cake is sweet and light. The corn meal gives the cake a great bite with the added scent and flavor of oranges. After baking this cake, my kitchen smelled like delicious warm fruit, a perfect way to ease away the winter blues.

Creamy and custardy, this cake tastes excellent served warm but will also retain its moisture for a few days if well wrapped. A fabulous cake for a Sunday brunch or a dinner party!


Upside-Down Blood Orange Cake

Source: Melissa Clark altered slightly
Makes one, 9-inch cake

1 cup + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks plus 3 tablespoons), at room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4 blood oranges
1 cup fine cornmeal
1/2 cup + 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Add the brown sugar and lemon juice; stir until sugar melts, about 3 minutes. Scrape mixture into bottom of prepared pan.
  3. Grate zest from three of the oranges (about 3 teaspoons) over a large mixing bowl. Then slice off the tops and bottoms of both oranges. Place oranges on a clean, flat surface, and slice away the rind and pith, top to bottom, following the curve of the fruit. Slice each orange crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick wheels; discard any seeds and the center pith. Carefully arrange orange wheels on top of brown sugar mixture in a single, tight layer. Don't worry if brown sugar mixture has hardened when placing orange slices, sugar will remelt when baked.
  4. Juice remaining orange, should yield about 1/4 cup juice. In the large mixing bowl with the orange zest, whisk in cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together remaining 2 sticks of butter with granulated sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in sour cream, juice, and vanilla. Fold in the dry mixture by hand.
  5. Scrape batter into pan over oranges. Transfer to oven and bake until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Cake will appear quite moist and bubbling slightly around the edges. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes, then run a knife along pan’s edges to loosen it; invert onto a platter and cool.
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