Blood Orange Upside Down Cake

In Iran, eating fruits is a ritual, like drinking tea, there is always a large bowl of seasonal fruits at the table in each household. I have a love affair with oranges and grapefruits, I grew up picking oranges from tree and I seriously can't live without them. Lucky for me, we have an abundance of citrus fruits in Los Angeles, specially in the city that we live in.  So when I came across the upside down cake recipe by the amazing David Lebovits  I knew I have to make this cake. I've made the recipe using cranberries first, which was so delicious and tangy, then I made the orange upside down cake. The result was just amazing...the cake was moist, soft, and so good either warm or cold. 

Key points:

Using corase corn meal or polenta in this recipe adds a little grainy texture to the cake that is very pleasant mixed with fresh fruits. But if you like smooth and soft texture, you can use fine corn meal instead. 

Use a skillet or a cake pan, but avoid using springform cake pans. You heat butter and sugar in a heavy skillet, then arrange sliced oranges over the hot sugar. Then you beat up a basic cake batter that includes yellow cornmeal, and spread it over the fruit and sugar. 

It's impressive, easy, and so scrumptious. I served it in big wedges with little scoops of vanilla ice cream at a dinner party. 

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake

Yields: 10-12 slices                                        Bake time: 50 minutes 



  • 55g butter, cubed

  • 125g brown sugar

  • 3-4 large oranges, peeled, sliced


  • 175g all-purpose flour

  • 50g coarse cornmeal or polenta

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 115g butter, cubed, at room temperature

  • 150g granulated sugar

  • grated zest of one orange

  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature


1. Place the cast iron skillet on the medium heat, melt the butter and the brown sugar together, stirring frequently, until the sugar is moistened. When the mixture starts to bubble, remove from heat and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 350ºF . In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal or polenta, baking powder, and salt.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand in a mixing bowl with a spatula, beat softened butter, sugar and orange zest at medium high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until very light and fluffy.

5. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs one at a time, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides. Mix in the vanilla extract.

6. At low speed, alternately add flour and milk, start with the dry and end with the dry ingredients. Mix just enough so that they’re all combined. Do not overmix.

7. Place a layer of orange slices on top of the butter and brown sugar.  Spoon the batter over the orange slices in four mounds, then use a spatula to spread the batter evenly over the fruit.

8. Bake the cake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven, wait 10 minutes, then run a knife around the cake. Place a serving platter overturned on top of the cake in the skillet, then using oven mitts to cover your hands, flip the two over simultaneously, until the cake releases from the pan.


This cake can be served warm or cold. It's best served fresh, but you can cover with plastic wrap and keep for a week at the refrigerator.