citrus cake

When I was little, my sister Rebe and I were obsessed with orange soda. You know, that artificially bright orange-colored soda that was super popular in the ’90s. We’d order it every time we went out to eat, and when we were lucky enough, we got one of those giant 3-liter soda bottles from the grocery store.

In the summer, Rebe and I would drink orange soda like other kids drank water. Rebe even drank so much of it that her upper lip turned orange. Just imagine this tiny little kid with a purple and green one-piece bathing suit, jelly shoes, and an orange-stained upper lip. 

Of course, now I’m into normal oranges, not just orange soda. And I think it’s safe to say Rebe is, too. And contrary to our orange-soda-laced summers, fresh orange season’s peak is January through March.

This dessert uses all the best winter citrus fruits in a beautiful upside-down citrus cake. I just love how it looks like art. And it’s SO easy to make. If you can place oranges down in a cake pan, you can make this cake.

citrus cake on a plate

Tips for making this citrus cake

Seriously, guys. Don’t freak if you’ve never made an upside down cake before. They look super fancy, but they’re basically a dump cake. Some things to keep in mind when making this winter citrus cake are:

Slice the citrus fruit with the skin on—Instead of peeling the citrus and then slicing it, slice it with the skin on and use the tip of your knife to cut off the outer layer of skin. This will ensure that the citrus fruit slices properly and doesn’t fall apart and/or lose its juice when you slice it.

Use whatever citrus you have—Grapefruits, pomelos, tangerines, oranges, etc would all work for this citrus cake recipe. I like using a blend of sweet and tart citrus fruits, but follow your heart on this one!

slice of citrus cake on a plate

Fill in the gaps with small fruit pieces—Because you’re using circular citrus slices to top this cake, you’re bound to have gaps in the topping. You can fill in those gaps with small slices of fruit—it’ll still look nice, I promise. Don’t believe me? Take a closer look at my recipe photos and you’ll see I filled in the gaps too!

Let cake cool completely before inverting—If you try and flip this cake while it’s still warm, the citrus topping is likely to fall apart. Let the cake cool to room temperature before attempting to flip it to avoid making a mess.

Buy organic, if possible—At least one of your oranges should be organic, if possible, because you’ll be zesting it. Think of it this way: would you want to zest the pesticide residue of a regular orange straight into your cake? Uh-uh. So organic is best here. If you can’t find organic oranges, give your fruit a good wash under hot water before zesting it.

citrus cake with slice being removed

Happy Monday, loves. Hope your week is off to a fantastic start!

RECIPE

Upside Down Winter Citrus Cake

Yields 1 cake

An easy upside down winter citrus cake that will brighten anyone's day. Make this easy cake recipe with whatever citrus you have on hand!

Ingredients

  • 2 blood oranges
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 1 tangelo, small grapefruit, or other citrus of choice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (from any type of orange)
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest (same)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup plain non- or low-fat yogurt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9 inch cake pan pan with parchment paper so that it covers the bottom and goes up the sides of the pan. Fold parchment paper so that it hugs the sides of the pan, like an upside down hat. Spray with non-stick spray.
  2. With the skin still on, slice citrus ½ inch thick. Use a paring knife to carefully remove the skin from the citrus slices (like cutting off the outer ring). Doing it this way will ensure your oranges citrus stays intact and does not break apart when you slice it.
  3. Microwave the sugar and water together until the sugar dissolves completely, about 45 seconds. Pour half of the sugar-water into the bottom of the prepared cake pan, then line the bottom with prepared citrus fruits. Once arranged, pour the remaining sugar-water over the citrus. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla extract.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, whisking to combine. Slowly alternate folding in the flour mixture and the yogurt into the wet ingredients until everything is combined. Mixture will be thick.
  6. Pour the batter over the prepared citrus slices, spreading it evenly to the edges.
  7. Bake for 35 minutes, then allow to cool completely before inverting onto a serving tray.

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More easy cake recipes from Broma Bakery:

Caramelized Banana Upside Down Cake

Pistachio Olive Oil Cake

German Chocolate Bundt Cake

Best Blackout Cake Ever

Cinnamon Bun Bundt Cake

40 comments

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I simply can’t get over how beautiful this cake is. Love all of that winter citrus! So darn colorful – and I’m sure ridiculously tasty, too!

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When putting the fruit on the bottom, is it one single layer or a few layers?

Sarah | Broma Bakery
Reply

A single layer!

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Same here with the orange soda when I was a kid. 🙂 this cake looks fab! Perfect vehicle for citrus and cake.

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This winter citrus cake is stunning! I absolutely love the colors!

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What a great cake to brighten up these grey winter days!

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ooh, the sugar water sounds like such a good idea; i’m imagining caramelly citrus ?

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I was definitely also one of those kids with a soda-stained mouth (in my case, grape) and jelly shoes. What a throwback!! 😉 Also, this cake is amazing. That is all.

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Such a beautiful cake Sarah! Love that January is packed with lots of yummy citrus recipes! A nice way to brighten up the cold winter days!

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So gorgeous and sunny. Citrus + cake is the best!

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This is so pretty! I too am loving winter citrus. This is the perfect use for it! 🙂

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This is such a bright spot in a dreary winter day, so so pretty!

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Oh my gosh, this cake is BEAUTIFUL, Sarah!! Love all the citrus fruits you’ve got going on here!

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This cake is seriously gorgeous!!!! Could brighten up even the dreariest of winter days!!

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SO so pretty!

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Haha yes I fondly remember the orange soda stains! This so gorgeous, I would love to bake and serve this to people.

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Hey Sarah! You are so right- your cake has indeed brightened my day! Thanks so much for sharing your little piece of art. x (Oh and I love your sister’s name!)

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This has to be one of the most gorgeous upside down cakes I’ve ever seen! Mine always turn out to be such hot messes.

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Hi Sarah! I just made this cake after drooling over your pictures 😛 So tasty and beautiful! I love the idea of citrus as a winter treat.

Thank you for sharing!!

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Sarah, this cake is awesome! super moist and fragrant, and soooo pretty! thank you for a great recipe;

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Hi! Can this cake be made in advance? If yes how do you store it?

Sarah | Broma Bakery
Reply

Hi Miriam! Yes, you can make this cake in advance. I would store it in the fridge, then let it come to room temp before you serve it 🙂

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Made this last night. It was amazing – and looked just as pretty as yours!

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Which sugar is used for the fruit in the first step? And two different sugars in the cake? Can’t wait to try it!

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Yes, brown sugar in the bottom and granulated in the actual batter 🙂

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I made this for my grandparents a couple of weeks ago and they loved it! I’d like to make it again for a dinner party, but need it to be dairy free, Do you have an substitution ideas for the yogurt?

Thank you!

Sarah | Broma Bakery
Reply

Dairy free yogurt would work well! Otherwise, try 1/2 cup of almond milk in its place!

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