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very close up shot of blood orange upside-down cake with parchment paper

Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake

  • Author: Shelagh
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 25-20
  • Total Time: 45-50 mintues
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Ruby-red blood oranges make a delicious ‘topping’ for this upside-down cake. Use two loaf tins or a cast-iron pan to make one larger round cake. The decision is yours. Whatever you do, be sure to share with those you love.




  • ¼ cup butter + more to grease sides of loaf tins

  • ½ cup packed brown sugar (light or dark is fine)

  • 3 blood oranges, zested (save for cake), white pith trimmed, and thinly sliced*


  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda

  • Pinch of kosher salt (affiliate link)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk, room temperature and well shaken (sour cream or yogurt work too)
  • Creme fraiche (or whipped cream) for serving



  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Prepare 2-9 x 5″ loaf tins by spreading some butter along the sides. Set aside.
  3. *With a Microplane grater (affiliate link), zest the blood oranges. With a sharp knife, slice off the root end and stem end, then remove the skin from the orange, following the curve. Try to save as much juice as you can, and add the juice to the butter-sugar mixture.
  4. In a saucepan, over medium-high heat, add the butter and melt until it becomes bubbly, foamy, and lightly browned (keep an eye on it!). Add the brown sugar and stir until melted and evenly distributed for about 2 minutes. Equally pour into the prepared loaf tins, then arrange the blood orange slices on top of the mixture in each pan, overlapping slightly. You may wind up not using all the orange slices, depending on their size.


  1. In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the zest from oranges and set aside.
  2. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the olive oil and sugar on high for about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  3. With the mixer on medium speed, beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Add vanilla and mix well.
  4. Turn the mixer to low, alternate adding half the flour mixture with half the buttermilk, repeat. Work quickly (but gently) as to not over mix the batter (or it will be a tough cake). Scrape down the sides to check there isn’t any dry flour at the bottom of the bowl. The batter should be slightly thick.
  5. Equally pour the batter evenly over topping, spread with an offset spatula to the edges.
  6. Bake for about 30-35 minutes. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out with a couple of moist crumbs. Check around 25 minutes for doneness.
  7. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Using hot-pads or towels to protect yourself from juices overflowing and the hot pan, invert the cakes onto a serving platter. Cool the cakes completely at room temperature before slicing and serving with a dollop of creme fraiche or whipped cream.


By using cornstarch with regular all-purpose flour, you essentially have created cake-flour.

Keywords: blood orange cake, citrus cake, citrus olive oil cake, upside down cake, mediterranean cakes, blood orange upside-down cake

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