Caramelized Orange Upside Down Cake.

The Pineapple Upside Down Cake. The American knock off of the French Tarte Tatin, and thanks to Jim Dole "The Pineapple King" and Betty Crocker "The Kitchen Queen" we all know it. There's been one on every pot luck table since the 30's. They are yummy, I can't deny it, but who wants to eat the same version of the same cake for 80 years? I think it's time we change things up a bit, and I'm not talking about adding maraschino cherries.

Since I have a serious inability to follow a written recipe, I replace pineapples with oranges...or cherries, or kumquats, blueberries, peaches... whatcha got? Let's make an upside down cake out of it! Let's do kumquats this time, since my little tree is ready for picking...

...or not.

Unfortunately, My tiny kumquat tree suffered a mauling at the hands of my three children who were outside enjoying the first warm day in weeks. By the way the kumquats were tossed and smashed around the yard I am guessing that they were used as ammo of some sort. Possibly grenades.

With my kumquat plans foiled my husband and I loaded up our rotten children to go look at a used truck in the neighboring county. The truck resided on endless acres of an almond orchard in full bloom. There was also a small personal citrus grove of about twenty trees. It was unloved and half of  the fruits were rotting away, just like the truck.

The kids wasted no time in asking the truck owner if they could pick some fruit. Apparently they save the manners for strangers. He handed them a bag and said, "Go for it, take as much as you want".  The girls quickly scrambled up the trees and starting dropping orange and yellow fruits down to their little brother, still too short to climb, as he happily accepted the job and started packing them up.  Navel oranges, grapefruits, Minneolas, and Eureka lemons soon filled the bag. We now have quite a citrus bounty. It makes up for my kumquats... I guess.

Caramelized Kumquat Orange Upside Down Cake:

You will need:

For the Caramel:
  • 4T butter
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • orange slices enough to cover bottom of pan cut about 1/4inch thick, pith removed
  • 2 T Cointreau or cognac, optional
For the Cake:
  • The zest of 3 oranges, any kind you kind you like
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 3/4 C AP Flour or Pamela's Gluten Free Bread Flour
  • 2 1/2 baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 3/4C warm milk
  • 1T vanilla ext

Before you begin, wash and dry your oranges, completely zest all of them, set zest aside. This will leave you with just the white pith on the oranges. Remove as much of that as you can with a sharp knife. Slice the oranges into 1/4 inch circles, set aside. Preheat your oven to 350'

For the Caramel-
In a cast iron skillet melt butter and brown sugar over medium low heat. Once it's bubbling in the center give it a slight stir. Let it bubble undisturbed until the bubbles reach the edges. (Now is a good time to mix your cake batter.)

For the Cake-
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or mixing bowl with hand-held beaters), cream butter and sugar with the orange zest in mixer for about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time mixing until combined. Scrape down sides, then add vanilla. Add 1/2 of the flour, then 1/2 of the milk alternately until incorporated.

Once your caramel has reached a full bubble, add the orange slices (you can also add cointreau or your favorite cognac at this point). It will bubble ferociously when the oranges are added so, you may want to use an oven mitt and add the orange slices with tongs.
Cook for 1 minute, turn off heat. Wait until bubbling stops. Then, evenly pour cake batter on top of the caramel and oranges.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Let sit for 2 minutes. Place a large platter on top of the skillet and, using oven mitts, turn everything upside down . Wait about 30 seconds until cake drops onto platter. Let cool. Then, the flip.

I like to top mine with sweetened creme fraiche but whipped cream is good too. And, of course, everything is better a la mode…Yum!

Enjoy! 99%BitterSweet


  1. love the description of the trip--- and the cake!!!!!---- need Scottie to beam it up to arrive at the plate I am holding ready to catch.... MMMMMmmmmmm,,,,,,,,,.......


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