caramel orange upside down cake

I saw this dessert recipe in a magazine a few months ago and it certainly caught my eye. Upside down cake, with the ensuing caramel goodness? check and check. I loved that it was oranges, as I had never tried that before.

This cake is absolutely delicious and relatively simple to make. Basically, you have two options for your next social gathering, if you're going with cake. Would you rather make a 1-pan cake that will stand up in elegance, or make a 3-layer cake that requires buttercream and decorating? This is how I justify my decisions. Get on board, it's nice up here.

So now that we've decided to make this cake in lieu of a very fancy layer cake that you were totally going to make, you understand that it may require a bit more time than a standard cake. I'm glad you agree. 

First, you need to supreme three oranges into segments, leaving behind the pith and seeds.

Next, you'll make the simple caramel. Cook it until it just becomes amber, unless you are a fan of a hint of bitterness- then cook it until it's a light umber. Pour your caramel into a 9" cake pan. Which, by the way, you don't have to grease. Is this easy or what? Don't say what.

It will look like this for a while.

It will look like this for a while.

Not quite there yet.

Not quite there yet.



Now you can prepare the cake batter. 

With all your pieces in place, it's time to assemble! Lightly organize your orange segments on top of your caramel layer in your cake pan. I like to do mine in an overlapping circle, which makes a pretty flower-like pattern, but you can also do them in a linear way- like a sunburst! 

salted orange cake 15.JPG
salted orange cake 17.JPG

Dollop your cake batter on top of your oranges lightly, until the batter is all in the pan. Carefully smooth out the batter. Bake on a sheet pan, as it sometimes overflows.

After pulling the cake from the oven, let it cool for about 5 minutes before flipping it onto the desired serving platter. Be sure to run a knife or spatula around the edge so the cake releases cleanly.

I adore this dessert, but it is catered to a more grown-up palate, as it has astringency from the oranges, a hint of bitterness from the caramel, and great texture in the batter from ground cashews. It pairs beautifully with a cordial or cup of coffee.


Slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine


2/3 c sugar

1/4 t salt

1 T butter


3 navel oranges

1/2 c roasted salted cashews, ground fine in a food processor

1 1/4 c flour

3/4 t baking powder

3/4 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

1 stick salted butter, soft

2/3 c sugar

2 eggs

1 t orange zest

1/2 c sour cream


Zest your oranges and supreme carefully. Set aside.

Make the caramel. Combine the sugar, 1/3 c water, and the salt in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring gently with a spatula just until the sugar dissolves. You don't want any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan, so stir carefully and gently. Cook, gently swirling the pan occasionally but not stirring, until light amber, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the butter. The mixture will bubble and spit, so be careful. Pour into a 9" round cake pan, tilting to coat the whole bottom, then set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ground cashews, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time. Be sure to beat well after each addition. Mix in the 1 t orange zest. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the flour mix alternately with the sour cream, starting and ending with the flour. 

Arrange the orange slices as you like them on the caramel in your pan. Gently drop the batter by spoonfuls on top of the oranges, then smooth out the surface carefully. Bake on a sheet pan until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. You may have to tent the top of the cake with foil if the top gets too dark. 

Transfer to a rack and let cool slightly, then run a knife around the edge before flipping the cake onto your serving plate. Don't wait too long, or the caramel will set in the bottom of the pan.

Let cool completely. Serve with whipped cream.