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.
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!
Fill in the gaps with small fruitpieces—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.
Happy Monday, loves. Hope your week is off to a fantastic start!
1 tangelo, small grapefruit, or other citrus of choice
1/2cup granulated sugar
1/2cup butter, room temperature
1/3cup white sugar
1/3cup 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 1/2cups plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3cup plain non- or low-fat yogurt
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pour the batter over the prepared citrus slices, spreading it evenly to the edges.
Bake for 35 minutes, then allow to cool completely before inverting onto a serving tray.
Leave a comment and rate this recipe!
A gorgeous, bright cake! Just made it today as a late bday cake for a dear friend. I split mine in half to be a layer cake, filling with lemon-and-orange buttercream. Yummyyy
One thing no one’s said here though is that because the batter is thick and heavy, it WILL fall through the sugar water and any juice that’s come out of the slices. The batter at the very top and around the immediate edge is going to be almost a pudding texture. If you or someone else is icked by soggy food, maybe give this recipe a miss. The photos on here are sneakily angled from perfectly above so you can’t see it 😉 but if you zoom in, there’s a gap up the top left where you can see the squishy batter poking through.
Mine is cooked and holding its shape, but some people might not like that soaked bread/pudding texture.
If it weren’t for the lack of clarity there and in a couple of the ingredient listings (1/2 a cup of butter is roughly 110g just fyi), I’d give 5 stars.
I made this cake and it looked and tasted great. Such a beautiful and bright cake. Though I would say it definitely needs more than 35 minutes in the oven, closer to 45-50.
I tried making this cake and it turned out so beautiful! I just love the colours of the fruits on the cake and I really like citrus myself. The grapefruits were really tart, but it didn’t bother me. I baked it for 50 minutes. I think maybe 40 would have been okay as it did seem a bit dense. I served it with some homemade whipped cream and it was so yummy.
Turned out great! The batter is a little bit much for a shorter cake pan, so if you have a taller springform pan, I would use it! It took closer to 45 min to bake, not 35 min.
This looks beautiful and delicious! Can it be made in a Bundt pan?
Hi Melissa! I’ve never tried that before, but I don’t see why not!