Blood Orange Cake
Baked Treats, Dessert, Snack

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake

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I have been getting so many blood oranges in my CSA box this winter which is definitely a good thing.  They have this light, fragrant, perfumey smell which makes them different than regular oranges and of course the color is pretty special.  True to their name the juice from blood oranges is a deep red.  The blood oranges that I’ve been getting are great to eat all on their own but they have a really nice thin peel with very little pith so I have been wanting to make something like this upside down cake for a few weeks.  I love to bake but I have self control issues and I end up eating so much of it that I don’t bake that often unless I have an event I can take the baked goods to so that other people eat it all.

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I only buy organic sugar so mine is never pure white. It totally works though! Can’t really tell the difference at all.  And look at my dog hoping and praying that some morsels of something good come his way… get a job Tippy!!!

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Don’t let your sugar cook for too long! Ugh, making caramel stresses me out because it can go south so quickly. I had to make this shit twice.


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I’ll be honest, I over cooked the sugar and it started to granulate. So I had to add more water to get it smooth again. Then I added butter and prayed it wouldn’t ruin the whole thing. It didn’t!


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The caramel will start to firm up a lot but don’t fret! It’s totally cool. It’ll all come together in the oven.


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It’s smooth sailing from here. Seriously, that caramel is the hardest part so if you nailed it, you’re good.


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One of the most important parts of making good cake batter is to cream the butter and sugar. You gotta really CREAM it though you guys! Sometimes this takes way longer than I want it to but if you cut corners it makes a difference in the final product.

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After all of the ingredients are incorporated, you’ll get a nice fluffy batter that holds it’s shape. You’ll need to spread it down into the pan before putting it into the oven….

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…like this.


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One thing that really helps with baking is to have an accurate read of your oven temperature. Sometimes ovens are a bit off and 5 degrees F can really fuck with your cooking times so if you’re going to be baking a lot I highly recommend getting an oven thermometer that you can keep in there.

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Look how amazing that looks!!!!! Part of the fun of baking is the surprise at the end like “You did it! You are a magician!” At least that’s how I feel every time!

Thing I love about baked goods is not all the sugary sweetness but the warm, buttery goodness and in this case, the hearty flavor of the really good flour and corn meal that I used.  This cake has a rich dense buttery flavor but the corn meal and spelt flour make it almost taste healthy at the same time.  It doesn’t just taste like sugar, it tastes like food.  So I ate it for breakfast every day until it was gone!

Delightful Recipe

Serves 8 servings
Adapted from NY Times (Melissa Clark)


  • 2 medium or 3 small blood oranges, sliced very thin
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup of cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup of whole berry spelt flour or all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup of Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 inch cake pan.
  • Slice your oranges very thin.  Either use a knife or use a mandolin if you have one.  Just try to get them as thin and uniform as possible.
  • In a sauce pan over medium-high heat, combine the water and sugar.  Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar mixture turns an amber color.  If it starts to crystallize, just add more water by the Tablespoon until it returns to a liquid.
  • Once the sugar is an amber color, add the salt and 4 1/2 TBS of butter.  Stir until the butter is melted and incorporated and then pour it into the prepared cake pan.
  • Starting in the middle and working out towards the edges in a spiral, layer the orange slices on top of the caramel in the cake pan.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt.  In a separate bowl, cream together the 2 sticks of butter with the sugar.  Make sure you get them nice and light, fluffy and creamy.  It may take a few minutes of beating.
  • Beat in eggs one at a time and then beat in the Greek yogurt or sour cream and the vanilla extract.
  • Fold in the dry mixture with a spatula until it is all incorporated.
  • Scoop batter into prepared cake pan on top of your layered oranges and then spread into an even layer in the pan.  Cook in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes and then flip it out onto a cooling rack, orange side up.  Let it cool completely before serving
  • Enjoy!
Blood orange cake on stand

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