Orange Upside Down Cake

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A deceptively easy cake that requires no frosting, but is still a showstopper for a special occasion

Upside down cakes are seriously underrated, in my opinion. Baked in a single tin, requiring no frosting and a simple dollop of fresh cream on the side, this cake is perfect for a special occasion.

I have recipe tested this with several different types of citrus. The one that. by far, looks the prettiest is made with blood/cara cara oranges. Grapefruit, I found, is quite too bitter even with the sugar syrup. If you cannot find cara cara oranges, navel oranges will work just as well. Mandarins fall apart far too easily.

The cake that I have baked has a lovely hint of citrus as well, due to both the orange juice and rind in the recipe. The yogurt adds a level of moistness and ensures that the cake keeps for a few days. The cake has a bit more density than some of my other cakes, but that is needed to support the oranges. I have still managed to keep the moisture however by the inclusion of oil in the sponge.

Whilst a dollop of whipped cream on the side is a perfect pairing for this citrusy sponge, mixing some yogurt with icing sugar is also a lovely alternative. It is slightly tangy and cuts the sweetness of the cake. The next time you are looking to bake a celebration cake, perhaps try this for a more unconventional alternative.

If you make this recipe, please share it with me by tagging me on Instagram @adventureswithsugar or on Facebook at Adventures with Sugar.


  • This recipe works best with cara cara/blood oranges, but can also be made with navel oranges. Using grapefruit produces quite a bitter undertone which I did not personally enjoy. Using mandarins tend to fall apart and look less pretty.
  • Make sure the oranges fully cover the base and overlap. Any gaps will result in the cake peeking through and the design will look less pretty.
  • Make sure to let the cake cool completely before upturning it. If you do this whilst warm the cake can fall apart.


  • 100g sugar
  • 60ml water
  • 3 medium size cara cara oranges, navel oranges or blood oranges


  1. Grease and line the bottom and sides of a 23cm round spring-form tin with baking paper. Set aside. For extra safety, wrap the outside in foil in case the syrup leaks out the tin.
  2. To make the syrup, add the sugar and the water to a microwave safe bowl and heat in around 30 second bursts.
  3. Give it a stir now and then to make sure the sugar completely dissolved into the water.
  4. The syrup should be slightly thickened, once all the sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool and thicken further.
  5. Thinly slice your oranges into rounds. I find this easiest to do with a sharp serrated knife. Slice off the skin of the oranges to remove the bitterness.
  6. Arrange your oranges on the base of your tin. Make sure the base is fully covered with the oranges. If not, the sponge will peak through the orange topping and not look as pretty.
  7. Once the oranges have been arranged, completely cover them with the syrup, and set aside.


  • 120g butter, melted
  • 120ml oil
  • 250g sugar
  • 2 Tbs orange rind
  • 3 large eggs, separated (this should be around 50g each, out of shell)
  • 240g cake flour
  • 20g cornflour
  • 1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 125ml orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 120g full fat yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence


  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
  2. Sift the flour, cornflour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a separate bowl and set aside.
  3. Mix the yogurt, orange juice and vanilla essence together and set aside.
  4. Cream the butter, oil, sugar and orange rind until the mixture is pale and slightly fluffy. This should take about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time adding the next after the previous egg is fully incorporated.
  6. Following the eggs, begin with the flour mixture and alternate with yogurt mixture. The flour mixture will be incorporated in three batches and the yogurt mixture in two parts.
  7. Spoon the mixture carefully into the cake tin, on top of the oranges. Be careful not to displace the oranges. Level out the cake batter.
  8. Bake for around 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean, with no crumbs on it.
  9. Let the cake cool in the tin completely, before turning out. If you turn the cake out whilst the cake is still warm, the oranges on the top could cause the cake to fall apart.

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