11 Jun 2012

Donna Hay upside down orange cake

If you can, look up close to see the pretty vanilla seeds. Also pretty, fabric from Frangipani Fabrics.

So I made something new this weekend with the cannelloni, but an old favourite for desserts. I love this Donna Hay upside down orange cake (henceforth known more briefly as orange cake) - though the way I have tweaked it, it is more like a pudding, syrupy and rich and sweet.

I love making this in the winter, when oranges are at their juicy best, their bright colour and taste cutting through any winter fug.

Eating this orange cake makes me happy. I make it a few times every winter, because every time I finish it, I think why isn't there more I could eat this for the rest of my life. But cooking it makes me happy too: cutting the fruit into very thin slices (they should be no more than 3-4 mm thick for the best results), the juice squeezing all over the cutting board, then eating the leftover bits. The smell of the orange slices candying in the sugar-vanilla syrup, blubbing away gently on the stove, all sunshine in a pan. Vanilla + orange = a very good thing indeed.

As I said, the way I make this is more like a pudding because I halve the cake quantity. This was out of necessity the first time I made it: I knew my pan was simply not deep enough to take the full amount. But once I turned it out and had my first slice, I discovered that what cake was there was happily drenched in that orange-vanilla magic - and therefore is, I suppose, a self-saucing upside down pudding!

So I keep making it this way. It is simply a straightforward cake batter poured over the orange slices, then baked and turned out. If you have the patience, you can push your orange slices into a pretty arrangement before you top them with the batter (I have done this), but it still looks like an edible stained glass window when revealed if you leave them to do their own haphazard thing.

I left this weekend's pudd in for five minutes too long. This meant the oranges weren't as syrupy looking as they have been in the past. What did happen though is the syrup sunk thru the cake, making it sticky and candy-like and just glorious. No bad thing at all!

This is grand while still oven-warm, perhaps with a little natural yoghurt, but just as stickily good when fridge-cold and the oranges are really chewy.

I hope you try this and love it as much as I do!

Upside down orange cake
Adapted from Donna hay
  • Preheat oven to 160 and use a pan about 22-24 cm across that can go on your stovetop and in your oven - it's an all-in-one kind of thing (less washing up!).
  • First make the orange topping: put 1 cup white sugar plus half cup water in the pan, stir over medium heat till dissolved. Then stir thru 1 tspn vanilla paste, then add thin orange slices - enough to cover the bottom, overlapping is fine. I generally cut two oranges and see how I go. Cook over a gently blubbing heat for about 10-15 minutes until orange is softened (this is why very thin slices are best). Once, done, remove from heat.
  • Next the cake: in a bowl, beat 2 eggs, half a cup of sugar and 1/2 teaspn vanilla for about 10 minutes until the mix is pale and 'tripled in size', says Donna. A stand mixer is good, or very strong biceps.
  • Then sift in 1/2 cup of SR flour, 1/2 cup almond meal, and 75 gms of butter that you have melted and cooled slightly (I put it in a small bowl in the preheating oven).
  • Then pour this carefully over the oranges, then bake for 35-40 minutes. You may need to cover with foil towards the end.  Once done, turn out onto a pretty plate and enjoy.


  1. Anonymous17 June, 2012

    Delicious cake! Was also delicious to make - picking at the fresh oranges and licking the bowl. I've never eaten a whole piece of orange before...it is yummy when candied. My mistake was to use the wrong baking tin. I only have tins, I discovered, with loose bottoms. So all the yummy syrup slipped out and over my kitchen floor and utensils and...everywhere! Hubby said he will buy me a proper tin for next time. Luckily I had some syrup left over so I poured that over the top when the cake was done. A lovely butter cake. I doubled the recipe and it took bang on 40mins to cook. Thanks for the recipe! :-) M

  2. I'm so glad it worked (apart from the escaping syrup) - and that there will be a next time! The candied orange really is fabulous. As is your hubby, by the sound of it :-)


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