Desserts & Sweets/ Recipes

Upside Down Orange Cake

Upside Down Orange Cake /

Pineapple is passe ́ when there’s an upside down orange cake on the table. A full orange – flesh, juice, pith and skin, goes into this grown-up, bittersweet cake. A generous drizzle of brandy and the golden crown of candied fruit slices on top make this upside down orange cake worthy of parties and celebrations.

Upside Down Orange Cake /

Choose your orange

The Nagpur orange is India’s most popular orange. I use the term ‘orange’ in this post in an inclusive sense extending to related citrus fruits like tangerines, clementines, minnows etc. Nagpur oranges are sweet but loosely packed with space between the peel and segments. This makes it difficult to slice into clean circles. So, I’ve used kinnow in this recipe. The kinnow, a hybrid of the orange and the mandarin, is juicy, and tightly packed with smooth, shiny and bright skin. It can be sliced easily into firm circles. You could use mandarins, blood oranges and even tangerines instead of kinnow. 

Upside Down Orange Cake /

Nothing but the whole fruit

The beauty of this cake is that you can literally toss the entire fruit into the blender or food processor; no zesting and juicing required. The orange can be pureed in advance, the day before if required and stored in the fridge. Only 2-3 oranges need to be sliced to make the topping (actually the bottom) of the cake. These slices are cooked for a few minutes in a light sugar syrup and arranged on the base of the cake. When unmolded, a pretty mosaic of overlapping orange rings covers the top, hence the name –  upside down orange cake.

Upside Down Orange Cake /

Quick mix cake

The batter for this cake is unfussy and simple. Since this is an upside down orange cake, it appears as if a whole lot of effort and time have gone into baking it. In fact there’s no separating eggs, creaming butter and sugar and folding flour in batches in this recipe. Everything gets whisked in one bowl, making washing up easier. It’s the bold, unabashed orange and brandy in the cake that make it stand out, even festive. Every bite is reminiscent of an orange orchard, it’s crumb moist with citrus.

Upside Down Orange Cake

A bittersweet orange cake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Dessert
Servings 8


For the topping

  • 2-3 oranges, washed and sliced into 5 mm-thick circles
  • 100 g sugar
  • 100 ml water

For the cake

  • 150 g olive oil
  • 150 g light brown or white sugar
  • 175 g self-raising flour
  • 50 g almond flour
  • 1 orange
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ tsp soda bicarbonate
  • 100 ml brandy
  • ¼ tsp salt


  • Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line the bottom of a 9-inch, round cake tin with baking parchment and lightly grease the parchment and the sides of the tin.
  • Prepare the topping by bringing the sugar and water to a boil in a wide pan. Reduce to a simmer, gently place the orange slices in the pan, pat them down gently and cook for 10-15 min. Then very gently remove them from the syrup and drain on a plate.
  • Cut the orange into large chunks, remove and seeds and liquidise in the food processor or blender to a fine puree.
  • Whisk the flour, soda bicarb, salt and almond flour in a bowl.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs and orange puree. Fold in the dry mixture taking care not to overmix.
  • Arrange the drained orange slices to completely cover the bottom of the prepared tin and pour the batter over them. Tap the tin a couple of times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 30 min or till a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • Remove the tin from the oven and allow it to cool for 20 mins. Then use a toothpick to gently prick the cake all over and slowly pour the brandy evenly all over the cake.
  • Invert a plate or cake stand over the tin and very gently overturn to unmold the cake. The orange slices should be baked onto the top of the cake. Cool the cake fully before slicing.

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