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Orange Upside Down Cake

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Orange Upside Down Cake is an incredibly delicious, soft and fluffy orange cake with a tender crumb that almost literally melts in your mouth. With a hint of spice and bright with sweetened citrus, it’s an easy-to-make cake you’ll love.

Side view of sliced Orange Upside Down Cake topped with sweetened whipping cream

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Perfect for gatherings of any kind, but simple enough to make when you’re craving a delicious treat.

Upside down cakes are rather special. They look fancy and difficult to make. And we know they are utterly delicious. But the truth of the matter is, they are… easy to make, fancy, and yummy!

If you’re a fan of upside down cakes, you might enjoy Rhubarb Upside Down Cake or Maple Pear Upside Down Cake in their seasons.

This citrus-flavored upside down cake is bright and sunny, regardless of the season. For me, in rainy Seattle, it’s a colorful happy cake all year long.

Side view of Orange Upside Down Cake on white cake stand

Orange Upside Down Ingredients

Ingredient measurements are in the recipe card below, but here is an overview of what you will need:

  • Sliced oranges: look for small oranges, like the size of a tennis ball, if possible. I like to use a variety of oranges for variegated colors on the top of the cake. I like a combination of navel, blood orange, Cara Cara, etc.
  • Melted butter and raw sugar (or granulated sugar) for the top of the cake
  • All-purpose flour
  • Leavening: baking powder and baking soda
  • Flavoring: salt, ground cardamom (this spice is optional but brings a nice complimentary flavor), and vanilla extract
  • Granulated sugar for sweetness
  • Large eggs bring stability and bind the ingredients together
  • Neutral cooking oil
  • Sour cream for the most incredible texture
  • Orange for juice and zest, in addition to the sliced oranges on top of the cake

How to Make Orange Upside Down Cake

Step-by-step instructions are in the recipe card below.

Top view of orange slices in the bottom of a stainless cake pan
Top view of simple cake batter in a glass bowl with cake pan in the background

For the top

Preheat the oven to 350°F and generously grease an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan lined with parchment.

Add melted butter to the bottom of the prepared pan and sprinkle sugar over the top. Then lay thinly sliced oranges creating desired pattern.

For the cake

  • Whisk the dry ingredient together and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients together. Then stir in the dry ingredients until well combined.
  • Pour the cake batter over the orange slices.
  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out mostly clean.
  • Let cool in pan before inverting the cake onto a serving platter.
  • Brush orange syrup over cooled cake before serving.
Side view of Orange Upside Down Cake slice on green and white plate and topped with whipping cream

Tips for Orange Upside Down Cake

  • Use a variety of small oranges that are similar in size.
  • Slice the oranges thinly.
  • If you’re using a center orange with overlapping oranges, as I’ve done, you’re decorating from the bottom up. Place the single orange slice on the bottom of the cake pan and overlap the oranges from there.
  • Use a nonstick round cake pan if possible, and line it with a parchment round.
  • A serrated knife works best when slicing the cake. Slice gently in a see-saw motion until the knife cuts through the oranges.

Do you remove orange peels?

That is completely up to you. I love the decorative look of thinly sliced oranges, with their peels, on top of the cake. That being said, you can absolutely remove the peels if you prefer. Without the peel, the oranges don’t hold their shape quite as well.

Side view of Orange Upside Down Cake with a bite missing and a dollop of whipped cream

How to serve this upside down cake

This cake is so flavorful, that it doesn’t need anything with it. However, freshly whipped and sweetened whipping cream is decadently delicious alongside this cake. And that… from personal experience!

Storing Orange Upside Down Cake

You can store this cake at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Be sure to cover it well or store in an airtight container.

Can you use other citrus in this upside down cake?

Absolutely, if oranges aren’t your thing, other options would be lemons, pineapple slices, or even other fruit, like stone fruit. It’s an incredibly versatile cake!

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Side view of Orange Upside Down Cake slice with a bite missing and a dollop of whipped cream on top.
Side view of sliced Orange Upside Down Cake topped with sweetened whipping cream

Orange Upside Down Cake

Orange Upside Down Cake is an incredibly delicious, soft, fluffy orange cake with a tender crumb that melts in your mouth.
4.4 from 7 votes
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 12 servings

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 4 small oranges, thinly sliced like navel, blood orange, Cara Cara oranges, etc.
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons raw sugar, cane sugar, or demerara sugar (you can also use granulated sugar)
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, optional but bring a delightful flavor
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest

Orange Syrup

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and generously grease an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan. Line with parchment and then grease the parchment paper.
  • Slice oranges horizontally about 1/4-inch thick and remove any seeds.
  • Add melted butter to the bottom of the prepared pan and sprinkle sugar over the top. Then lay the orange slices in the bottom of the cake pan, creating a desired pattern.

For the cake

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground cardamom if using; set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add the oil, sour cream, vanilla extract, orange juice, and zest until smooth, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir until well combined. The pour the cake batter over the orange slices.
  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 to 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cake to release. Invert the cake onto a serving plate or platter.

Orange Syrup

  • While the cake is cooling, bring sugar and orange juice to a simmer and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool until warm to room temperature.
  • Brush cooled cake with orange syrup before serving.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 321kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 134mg | Potassium: 109mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 190IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Course: Desserts
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Orange Upside Down Cake, Orange Cake

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