Taking a queue from Pineapple Upside Down Cake, and my love of fresh citrus, I decided to take a stab (or slice) of making an orange upside down cake… but maybe with a little twist.
There are several versions of this cake floating around the internet, so I took what I liked from those recipes and adapted the to my own. The idea of actually making a caramel interested me. For those who may be a little intimidated at making a caramel, it really is easier than you think. Most folks worry about the caramel crystalizing, and that does happen a lot if one isn’t careful while making the caramel. Even one gradual of sugar reintroduced into the cooking syrup will activate crystallization, and your potential caramel sauce is basically shot.
French pastry chefs, well any pastry chef I guess but I learned this trick from a French pastry chef, will sometimes squeeze fresh lemon juice into the syrup as it begins to boil down and caramelize. The introduction of an acid into a rich syrup will help loosen the sugar molecules, breaking the sugar down to glucose and fructose, and helping to prevent immediate crystallization. The process of adding an acid is called “inversion”. See? I’m more than a pretty face. The only downside to adding an acid is that it will change the flavor profile. So ALWAYS adding a squeeze of lemon juice (or orange juice as in this recipe) to your caramel may not work with every caramel recipe. In this case, and for my recipe, it works just fine.
The buttery caramel sauce on the bottom of the cake pan, or springform pan, then layering on thinly sliced whole orange, creates a beautiful cake. Once flipped, the top is glossy, rich, and lightly candied. It’s wonderful, and I hope you enjoy this.
For The Caramel
10” round cake pan or springform pan
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
2 medium sized oranges, sliced thinly 1/4”-1/8” thick
In a heavy bottom saucepan, add the sugar, water, and orange juice. Stir gently to combine and begin to heat to a boil. Don’t stir too much… just let it do its thing. Turn the heat down to a simmer and look for the syrup to start cartelizing. I typically remove from the heat once the syrup comes to a medium amber cover, as carry over cooking will continue to caramelize the syrup. Stir in the butter a little at a time, and add the salt. Stir well and immediately pour into the bottom of a buttered10” round cake pan or springform pan. Move/swirl the caramel around to insure even coverage. Layer and shingle the thinly sliced (and pitted) orange one top of the caramel. Set aside and start making your cake.
For The Cake
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
2 cups All Purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup half-n-half
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest (microplaned)
1 teaspoon Almond Extract
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and position an oven rack to the center of the oven.
- In a stand mixer or mixing bowl with hand held mixer, start creaming your butter and sugar together. Beat until light and fluffy. Add the fresh orange zest and continue beating.
- One at a time mix in the eggs, and add the next after the first one is completely mixed in. Scape down your bowl, sides and bottom.
- In a separate mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt. Combine to incorporate everything completely. Add the orange juice and almond extract to your 1 cup of half-n-half. Bring over to the mixer along with the dry ingredient.
- Starting with the dry ingredients, and ending with dry ingredients, begin mixing in to the creamed butter sugar and eggs. Alternate with the half-n-half mixture to create a nice smooth and fragrant batter.
- Pour the cake batter onto the caramel coated and sliced orange cake pan. With an offset spatula smooth out the batter evenly and smooth off the top. Place the cake into the oven and bake 35-40 minutes, or until your cake tester comes out clean.
- Once the cake is baked, remove from the oven. Skim a knife around the diameter of the cake to loosen from the sides. Carefully, and with hot pads (because the pan is hot, Genius) invert the hot cake onto a cake stand or platter. Let the cake cool on the stand. Serve warm or room temp…. or however you like. It’s yours now… enjoy!