Caramelized Orange Upside-Down Cake

Caramelized Orange Upside-Down Cake

We started to make our caramelized orange upside-down cake at Cow House last year during Art on the Farm, our summer art program for high school students. Caitriona noticed the students weren’t eating as many oranges, and we had a few extra in the fruit basked about to go off. Not wanting them to go to waste, Caitriona did a bit of research and devised the version we’ve outlined here. Needless to say, it was quite popular with the added bonus of eliminating waste. With people keeping a bit more food in the house these days, we thought it would be a good one to share.

The base of this cake is a classic victorian sponge. It’s unique texture and flavor come from the caramel and orange absorbing into the cake while baking in the oven. Sharpen your knife! You’ll get the best results if you try to slice the oranges as thinly as you can. If you prefer your cake to be fully covered in orange slices when done, be sure to overlap them at the bottom of the tin as they shrink quite a bit. When beating the cake batter, it is essential not to over beat the flour when mixing it into the cake. Just beat it in until fully incorporated. Overworking flour develops the gluten, resulting in a cake that’s more dense and chewy. Ideally, the cake will be light and fluffy

This cake works excellent after dinner as a dessert, but we also love it in the afternoon on a sunny day with some tea. It’s popular with all ages and we’ve received great feedback not just from our summer students, but our gap year and residency participants a well. You can serve it with freshly whipped cream or natural greek yogurt. No need for additional sugar, but if you want to layer another dimension of flavor, you can add some orange zest, ground cardamom, or ginger to your creamy accompaniment.

Caramelized Orange Upside-Down Cake: Ingredients

  • 2 large oranges

  • 6oz (170g) cup brown sugar

  • 5 tbs (70g) butter

  • 8oz (226g) butter, soft

  • 8oz (226g) caster sugar

  • 4 large eggs

  • 8oz (226g) self-raising flour

  • 4 tbsp milk

  • 9″ round cake tin


Preheat your oven to 356°F (180ºC). In a small saucepan, melt the brown sugar and butter together, over medium heat. When melted, pour this mixture into the bottom of your cake tin, spreading it evenly to coat. Places your thinly sliced oranges on top and set aside.

Using a mixer with the beating attachment, combine the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one by one, until everything is fully incorporated.

Sieve the flour into your batter, beating until just combined. The flour should not be overworked. Lastly, gently mix the milk into the mixture. Pour the cake batter into the cake tin, spreading it out evenly over the oranges.

Place your tin into the oven and bake for 35-40 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean without any cake batter stuck to it. When the cake is fully baked, remove it from the oven and leave to cook for around 10 minutes. Using a knife, scrape around the edges of the tin to loosen it, and flip it out onto a serving plate.

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