Orange Upside Down Cake celebrates the beauty & flavor of orange season! A tender & moist vanilla cake is flavored with orange juice and zest, and blanketed with juicy orange slices. A surprise crumb layer on bottom provides a delightful crunch to contrast the tender cake inside, and the juicy oranges on top of the cake.
This recipe was originally published in February 2019, but I just gave it new photos and updated the recipe to produce a lighter cake, and noted that the orange peels should be removed for the best flavor.
Why you’ll love this Blood Orange Upside Down Cake:
- Juicy, Fresh Oranges – A blanket of juicy orange slices are as delicious as they are beautiful!
- Tender Vanilla Orange Cake – A tender vanilla cake is flavored with orange juice & zest, and bakes to plush perfection. This delicious cake is simple to make, too!
- Surprise Crumb Layer – A surprise crumb layer on bottom adds a delightful, slight crunch that contrasts beautifully with the tender cake and juicy fruit.
As always, the full recipe with measurements & directions can be found at the bottom of this post.
- Oranges – I love using blood oranges in the winter – their vibrant color makes a stunning addition to any table, and they are delicious. You can of course, use regular oranges though.
- Cake Flour – Cake flour produces a lighter crumb in cakes, and I highly recommend using it! Spoon & level your flour for best results, or use a scale. Scooping the measuring cup directly in will lead to too much flour. 1 cup of cake flour weighs 110 grams, whereas 1 cup all-purpose flour weighs 130 grams. (Some people standardize this at 120, 125, or 130 – I’ve chosen 130.)
- Sour Cream – Use full fat sour cream, at room temperature.
- Butter – I always use salted buter for the best flavor, but feel free to use unsalted butter if you prefer. Let it come to room temperature before baking.
- Eggs – Use a large egg, at room temperature.
- Milk – Just like our other cold ingredients, your milk needs to be at room temperature. I use 2% milk, but whole milk works too.
- Vanilla extract – Use a good quality, pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.
- Dairy-free – Use your favorite trusted dairy-free products to make this recipe dairy-free.
- Gluten-free – I have no tested a gluten-free version of this recipe. Let me know if you try it!
- Orange Types – Feel free to use another type of orange! See more ideas in the recipe variations section at the end of this post.
How to Make this Blood Orange Upside Down Cake Recipe Step-by-Step:
Step 1: Make the Crumb Layer. In a small bowl, stir together melted butter, flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
Step 2: Prepare the Oranges. Peel your oranges, then slice thinly. Place in a medium bowl with granulated sugar. Set aside. Later, you’ll layer these in the bottom of the cake pan.
Step 3: Make the Cake Batter. Whisk together the dry ingredients. Beat together the wet ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer or stand mixer, then add the flour mixture and milk. You’ll have a silky batter.
Step 4: Bake the Cake. Pour the cake batter over the oranges, then sprinkle the crumb layer on top. Bake as directed in the recipe card below for best results.
Once baked, let the cake cool in the pan placed on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate.
Serving + Storing this Blood Orange Cake:
Allow the cake to cool a bit more, or enjoy immediately! Serve with fresh whipped cream (details on how to make this can be found in the recipe card below).
Expert Success Tips:
- Oven Thermometer – An oven thermometer will tell you if your oven is actually running at the temperature you set it to. Your oven may not be accurate. Accurate oven temperature is crucial for most bakes, so I leave an oven thermometer in at all times to keep an eye on my oven’s calibration.
- Kitchen Scale – A food scale is the best way to make sure your flour is at the proper weight, since amounts will vary SO widely based on how you measure it, as well as the measuring cup you use, as they are not standardized.
Yes! You can make a half batch and bake in a 6-inch cake pan, or make a double batch and bake in a 9×13 pan or divide the doubled amounts of everything between two 9-inch cake pans.
Yes! Navel oranges, cara cara oranges, or tangerines will all work.
Yes, orange peels have a bitter taste and will not be the most pleasant thing to eat. A good paring knife makes this process very easy! Peeling by hand, as you would do if just eating the orange, doesn’t work as well because it’s hard to remove that white layer (the pith) by hand. Here’s an orange peeling tutorial with photos to help you see how to peel them with a knife, so you can easily remove the peel & pith.
Yes, a standard 9-inch springform pan would work!
- Oranges – This recipe isn’t limited to just blood oranges! Feel free to use navel oranges, cara cara oranges, or even tangerines. I don’t think the little “cutie” mandarins would work well because they’re so small that it would be hard to slice them once peeled.
- Almond Extract – Add 1/2 to 1 tsp (depending on how strong you like this flavor) of almond extract to the cake batter with the vanilla to add a delicious little flavor twist.
- Cake Pans – These are my absolute favorite 9-inch cake pans! I’ve had them for 6+ years and use them for every cake recipe, and they are still in great shape.
- Offset Spatula – Offset spatulas make spreading cake and brownie batters a breeze. They’re especially handy for frosting a layer cake.
- Paring Knife – A good, sharp knife like this Wusthof one makes peeling oranges a breeze!
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More Citrus Fruit Recipes to Make During Citrus Season:
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Blood Orange Upside Down Cake
For the Crumb Layer:
- 1/4 cup salted butter, melted 57 grams, or 4 tbsp
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour, spooned & leveled 73 grams
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed 53 grams
- 2 tsp raw sugar optional, adds a nice crunch
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
For the Oranges:
- 5 large blood oranges
- 2/3 cup granulated or cane sugar
- butter, for greasing the pan
For the Cake:
- 1 and 1/4 cup + 1 and 1/2 tbsp cake flour, spooned & leveled 148 grams
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup salted butter, softened at room temperature 57 grams, or 4 tbsp
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil 36 mL
- 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar 178 grams
- zest of one large orange
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature 60 grams
- 3 tbsp orange juice
- 1/2 cup milk (don't measure this out yet – you'll need 1/2 cup less the 3 tbsp)
For Whipped Cream
- 1/2 cup cold heavy cream
- 3-4 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
- Prep: Butter a 9-inch cake pan well, including the bottom and sides of the pan, and give it a good spray with nonstick spray for added insurance. (I like to add a parchment paper round as well, to prevent any fruit being left behind in the pan. Be sure to butter under and over the parchment round.) Preheat your oven to 350℉.
- Prepare the Oranges: Use a paring knife to peel the oranges, removing the peel and the white layer. Slice into thin slices. Add them to a medium bowl and pour the sugar over them. Set aside while you make the crumble layer. Once the crumble layer is made, come back to the oranges. Lay the oranges slices in the bottom of the pan, starting on the center and working your way out. Drizzle 2-3 good spoonfuls of the orange juice that released in the bowl over the top of the orange slices in the pan. Discard the remainder.
- Make the Crumble Layer: Melt the butter in a small bowl, then stir in the remaining crumble ingredients. If it seems a bit wet, don't fret – it will thicken up as the butter cools from being melted.
- Make the Cake Batter: Measure the milk before you begin. Add 3 tbsp of orange juice to a 1-cup glass measuring cup, then pour in milk until you reach the 1/2 cup line. (Alternatively, you can measure 1/2 cup milk, then remove 3 tbsp and add in the 2 tbsp of orange juice.)In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a large bowl, cream the softened butter with a hand mixer for about 30 seconds, until creamy. Add the vegetable oil and cream together with the butter for 1 minute. Rub the orange zest into the granulated sugar with clean hands, then add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 full minutes. The mixture will be fluffy. Add the egg, and beat on medium high speed for 45 seconds. Add the sour cream and vanilla and mix on medium low speed until just combined.Add half of the dry ingredients with the mixer running on low speed. With a few streaks of flour remaining, add the orange juice & milk mixture, then when the milk is almost mixed in, add the remaining dry ingredients. When just a few streaks of flour remain, turn off the mixer and use a spatula to gently fold any stray bits of flour into the batter. A few lumps is fine! Don't over mix at this point.
- Assemble & Bake: Pour the cake batter over the oranges in the pan, and spread evenly. Sprinkle on the crumble (break it up with a fork if needed). Bake for 36 to 40 minutes. A cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake will pull out moist crumbs, not wet batter. Let cake cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate. Make your whipped cream just before serving – recipe below.
- Serve + Store: Let cake cool about 20 minutes or so before slicing – it will still be warm but the fruit will slice through much easier. You can also let it cool further before enjoying. Serve with whipped cream. Store leftover cake in an airtight container at room temperature overnight, or in the fridge longer than that – 3-4 days or so. It's good cold from the fridge, or you can let it come back to room temp before enjoying leftovers.
- Make the Whipped Cream: Make sure to leave your heavy cream in the fridge until the last second – if it's not super cold, it won't whip up. Add all ingredients for the whipped cream to a large bowl (it will splatter) and mix on medium high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Don't keep mixing once it reaches that point. Store leftovers tightly covered in the fridge for 1-2 days. Don't make this ahead – it's best fresh.Tip: This can also be done in a food processor! Pulse 6-8 times, then run on low, checking in 10-15 second intervals. Do this until it's stiff enough to dollop on!