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!

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Upside Down Winter Citrus Cake

  • Author: Sarah Fennel
Scale

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

Instructions

  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 1/2 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.

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

46 comments

Gabriella
Reply

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!

Nancy
Reply

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

Sarah | Broma Bakery
Reply

A single layer!

Naomi
Reply

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

Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom
Reply

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

Matt
Reply

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

heather (delicious not gorgeous)
Reply

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

Sarah | Well and Full
Reply

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.

Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
Reply

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!

Laura | Tutti Dolci
Reply

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

Tieghan
Reply

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

Gina @ Running to the Kitchen
Reply

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

Lisa
Reply

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

Jennifer @ Show Me the Yummy
Reply

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

Monique @ Ambitious Kitchen
Reply

SO so pretty!

Karlie
Reply

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

Amaryllis @ The Tasty Other
Reply

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!)

Joanne Bruno
Reply

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.

Kelsey
Reply

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!!

Ausra
Reply

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

M
Reply

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 🙂

Allison
Reply

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

Tracy
Reply

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
Reply

Yes, brown sugar in the bottom and granulated in the actual batter 🙂

Maya
Reply

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!

Paro
Reply

OMG!! What a gorgeous cake. I want to bake this for my close friends 60th birthday, as she loved citrus fruits and especially Grapefruits. Is it ok if I use more grapefruits than oranges or will it be too tart? Also can I use Pomegranates to fill gaps (that is also her other fav fruit) or what other fruit for the gap with go with the citrusy flavours? Thanks in advance!!

Sarah | Broma Bakery
Reply

You might want to add a little more sugar just to sweeten things up a little bit, but should it work out fine!

Let me know how it goes 🙂

Haley
Reply

Hi!! This cake looks amazing, so I can’t wait to try the recipe for myself. I think citrus would go great with a pistachio olive oil cake! Any thoughts? Could I do the citrus mosaic on any type of cake?

Sofi | Broma Bakery
Reply

Hey Haley! I’m sure that flavor combo would be delicious. We’ve never tried to do the citrus mosaic on the pistachio cake. My only fear is that it might be a little mushy because the pistachio cake is very moist! Let us know how it goes 🙂

Denise
Reply

looks like the granulated sugar is used in the first step (1/2 cup) to make the sugar water for the citrus slices. Then the batter has both granulated and brown sugar (1/3 cup each). Is that right?

Sofi | Broma Bakery
Reply

Yes! Sorry for the confusion 🙂

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