Cakes. Am I right? They have never been my favorite thing to bake, especially the decorative and fussy sort. People often chat me up about those Ace of Cake Boss War competition shows, assuming that because I am a baker I’ll be into them. I just can’t seem to bring myself to watch those programs. It may be the fact I don’t have cable, but more likely my visceral aversion to fondant. While sculpting a life sized wedding cake in the likeness of the bride is an impressive feat, I’d rather spend my time baking something that doesn’t give me the creeps.
This little Blood Orange Olive Oil Upside-Down Cake is much more my style. It’s not a multi-tiered show stopper. It’s subdued in sweetness. It isn’t ornately iced or decorated, but what it lacks in looks it makes up for in flavor and texture.
I know olive oil seems strange for a cake, but bear with me here. Olive oil cakes have been a thing in Italy and Spain for, like, ever. And who makes better food than Italy and Spain, honestly? This recipe incorporates a slightly sweet blood orange infused olive oil to give the cake a citrusy, rich and moist (I know, I hate that word too) finish.
For texture, I added cornmeal, giving the cake heft and chew to match the luxury of the olive oil. Then, to finish sweet and syrupy, melted butter and brown sugar topped with sliced blood orange wheels were placed in the bottom of the pan before the batter was added. It topped the cake with another interesting texture and a bright, citrusy flavor.
This is a cake I can get behind; an honest and tasty little thing without unnecessary pomp or circumstance. Cake shouldn’t be a contest. Cake should be comfort, happiness and love. I choose eat over compete any day.
- unsalted butter - 2 tablespoons
- light brown sugar - 1/4 cup
- blood oranges - 2
- all purpose flour - 1 1/2 cups
- cornmeal, fine ground - 3/4 cup
- baking powder - 1 1/2 teaspoons
- salt - 1/2 teaspoon
- cardamom - 1 teaspoon
- granulated sugar - 3/4 cup
- Greek yogurt - 1/2 cup
- olive oil - blood orange or a plain, mild olive oil - 1/2 cup
- eggs at room temperature - 3
- pure vanilla extract - 1 teaspoon
- blood orange zest (reserved from blood oranges) - 1 tablespoon
- Preheat the oven to 350° and grease an 8" round cake pan.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and stir just until sugar melts, about 3 minutes. Scrape the mixture into bottom of the prepared cake pan.
- Grate 1 tablespoon of zest from one or two of the oranges.
- Slice the blood oranges crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick wheels and remove any seeds.
- Arrange the blood orange wheels on top of brown sugar mixture in a single, tight layer.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and cardamom.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the blood orange (or plain) olive oil, yogurt and granulated sugar for about 3 minutes, until fully blended and smooth. Be sure to scrape down the bowl a couple of times.
- Slowly beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla.
- Stir in the orange zest.
- Fold in the dry mixture by hand, in 3 additions. Stir until just mixed, don't over mix the batter.
- Spoon the thick batter into the cake pan right on top of the layer of blood orange wheels. Spread evenly in the pan.
- Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, rotating the pan halfway through.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then run a knife along the edges of the pan to loosen it from the sides.
- Place a serving plate or cake stand over the cake pan and carefully invert the cake in a quick fluid motion. The cake should release from the pan and onto the cake plate. Allow the cake to cool on the cake plate.
- Serve with coffee, tea or better yet an Aperol Spritz.