Sunday, February 15, 2015

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake

Until I spent two weeks visiting my grandmother, in Bavaria, I wasn't familiar with blood oranges. I learned this the hard way. Each morning, the bed and breakfast where I stayed, would lay out a beautiful breakfast buffet. Freshly baked rolls, European butter, soft boiled eggs, cold cuts, fresh coffee and a weak looking pitcher of tomato juice. (Unless tomato juice has a stalk of celery and a good splash of vodka and hot sauce, I'll usually pass it by.)

True story: It wasn't until the last day of my stay that I discovered that tall pitcher of red juice was blood orange juice-- from Italy. Needless to say, I could've slapped myself silly for my ignorance. Live and learn.

Fortunately, blood oranges are also grown in California (and other states such as Florida and Texas).  I keep my eyes wide open for them from December through March, when they are typically in season.   I think their flesh is such a beautiful ruby color, and the juice has a much deeper citrus flavor.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake is one of my favorite (and easiest) cakes to make.  When I saw this recipe for Blood Orange Upside Cake on Stacey Snacks I was eager to try it.  This cake uses cornmeal, instead of all-flour.  One of my favorite cake pans is this  9 x 3 Inch Round Aluminum Cake Pan.  I bought it to make this Rhubarb-Upside Cake (also very delicious) and is now one of my favorite baking pans.

We begin by melting brown sugar and butter in a 350F degree oven (about 5 minutes, or so). Likewise, I see no reason why a cast iron skillet wouldn't make a great substitute.  I sprayed the cake pan with Baker's Joy (my favorite non-stick baking spray).

Next, we layer thinly sliced blood oranges.  Let's pause here, a moment.  In retrospect, I wish I had layered more oranges by overlapping them. You'll see why, when you see my finished cake. 

The batter is quite simple to make: butter, olive oil, flour, cornmeal, baking powder, vanilla, orange zest and blood orange juice.

One of my favorite ingredients I add to citrus desserts/breads is this Pure Orange Oil.  I add about 1/4 teaspoon, to boost the orange flavor.  This oil has yet to fail me! 

The cake batter is really delicious-- and so I baked this cake with confidence that it would be a winner.  This cake baked for about 45 minutes-- and the aroma was intoxicating.  I let the cake rest, in the pan, for about 5 minutes; then I ran a knife around the edge, placed a cooling rack on top and inverted the cake.

Ooops! A small ring of cake stuck to the pan. D'oh!  Now, do you see why I wish I had covered the bottom of the pan with more orange slices?  Be forewarned.

 The cake was still slightly warm, when I sliced into it.

I wondered if the pith in the orange would be tough and bitter. Would it?

TASTING NOTES: This cake was definitely love at first bite.  The taste was familiar.  A very tender crumb...yes.  I loved the crunchy texture of the cornmeal, the notes of vanilla-- and the citrus flavor was spot on.  The orange rinds had become tender and not bitter at all.  But, why did this cake taste so familiar to me?  Then it hit me. This cake closely resembles Marie Callendar's famous cornbread-- and my Yankee Cornbread recipe that I posted many years ago (when I was a newbie food blogger).   The biggest difference is that this cake recipe also uses olive (or canola) oil-- which adds extra moisture.

I would think this cake would work great with any kind of orange...maybe even Meyer lemons. Eureka lemons might be a tad too tart, but who knows?  

This cake is delicious served warm, but it also works are room temperature. It didn't stick around long, I can certainly vouch for that.  It's perfect with a cuppa tea any time of day.

A printable recipe is at the end of this post.


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June Burns said...

That looks fabulous! Great use for blood oranges :)

Sue/the view from great island said...

Gorgeous cake Debby, I can't get enough blood oranges. Is the orange oil the same as orange extract? I need to get some!

bellini said...

Blood oranges are a favourite this time of year.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

This looks divine. In fact so divine I wish I had a piece with my breakfast, which is about to be put on the table.

Stacey Snacks said...

I have made this cake 4 times now. It's a winner.
Too bad blood oranges are almost gone.....till next year!


Roz Corieri Paige said...

There is just nothing like a blood orange cake/torta and I have been waiting PATIENTLY for their appearance in the markets (here in S.C.). If time allows you, Debby, please stop by my blog for a little recognition of you (no silly awards, I promise).
Thanks for the blood orange recipe to emulate,

Betty said...

I love eating blood oranges- they are so beautiful! I've never baked with them though, and after seeing this gorgeous cake I'm wondering why. It looks so good! :)

Joanne said...

I would have had no idea what the blood oranges were up until a few years ago, so you're not alone! Love the idea of making an upside down cake with them. makes for a stunning exterior and a delicious interior!

scottiedog1965 said...

I only use a cast-iron skillet for making pineapple upside down cake. I wonder if my mother's vanilla-nutmeg sauce would be as good on your cake as it is on pineapple upside down. Probably not, two completely different fruits.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I've made this several times this season too, but not with the addition of the orange oil - great idea. Your cake looks sensational.