March 17, 2013

Citrus Upside Down Cake

Instagram Inspiration and an Upside Down Cake with Tangerines, Meyer Lemons, Kumquat and Blood Oranges. 

For my first post I would love to share just how in awe I am of the great community of such kind, creative, talented, and inspirational folks that I've found through avenues of social media and this blogosphere that I am diving into. I am so grateful for these connections that I've made and things I've discovered that wasn't possible even five years ago. I'd like to pretend that I am blossoming into a creative and talented young lady, but I should confess that most of it comes from places we are all to familiar with now like Pinterest and Instagram. Now, I do not condone plagiarism all, I will always give credit where credit is due.  But I love to take ideas that I find on those sites and make them my own.

citrus upside down cake

Now I must admit... I am somewhat of an Instagram addict. Shameless plug in 3...2...1... follow me @iloveyoubooo :)

ingredients citrus cake

Ok, maybe more than somewhat... But how could I not be! I was the kid who's mom used to get mad at her because every roll of film we had developed was full of closeup photos of food, flowers and my childhood dog, Sandi. Having a food stylist as a mother didn't help much either... I was born to love beautiful food.   I have now somewhat conditioned my man, Jamie, to not start eating his meal before I snap some shots. I used to feel bad, but every now and then I catch him taking a few of his own pictures when sitting down to eat a massive burger or fancy dessert. Now he just laughs a little when I stand up at our restaurant table to try and get an overhead shot. However, he doesn't actually have an Instagram account... Perhaps if he did, he would think it was a little less "cute" and start researching rehab facilities to ship me to! :)

One of my more recent finds on Instagram is @carolineadobo and more specifically this photo. I mean, C'MON!!! How could you not want to recreate that magic!  So I tried my best, using her tip of candying the fruit before baking the cake. And I think it came out wonderfully!  I think I will be making this again for Easter in a couple of weeks.

One of my favorite parts of our new house is that we have three Meyer Lemon trees on the side of our house, and let me tell you that they are so abundant and big and sweet!  I've been building recipes around them for the last two months.  And I am lucky to live two blocks away from a weekly Street Fair and Farmer's Market.  So I went to the side of the house to get some lemons and to the market to gather some blood oranges, tangerines, and kumquats. We HAD a kumquat tree when we moved into our house, but it had to go, due to the fact that it was planted in the strangest, most random place in our front yard.

lemon orange kumquat

My big debate was, because I was going to candy the citrus, whether or not to leave the peels on... I decided to leave the peel on the kumquats but remove it from the other three.  I know now to be sure to cut the peeled fruit no smaller than a 1/4 inch because I almost lost my Meyers during the candying due to the fact that I had cut them too thin.

citrus peels

By candying the citrus, I was trying to avoid the cake being too soggy from all the citrus juice and I think I was pretty successful! I also ended up with an entire mason jar of Citrus Simple Syrup that I'm sure I can find a good use for!  Perhaps to sweeten iced tea or add to some champagne, of course.

candying fruit

I had never made an upside down cake with a schmear before. I had always created the caramel-like sauce for the bottom of the pan. The schmear worked out great and it was so tasty.  The recipe for the schmear also makes more than you need, so I am storing the rest in the freezer for the next time I spontaneously or otherwise want to create an upside down cake of some kind.

citrus upside down cake

Also, I wish I had cut up one or two more oranges or tangerines.  I had a few gaps when I was placing all of the citrus over the schmear...

orange lemon kumquat cake

The idea to pair the cornmeal cake with the citrus is an excellent choice. The cake is not very sweet and it has a little crunch to it, which goes perfectly with the sweet citrus and glaze.

baking citrus cake

I'm going to see how long this cake holds up to know if I should make it the day before Easter or before I go to brunch on Sunday morning. That is... if we don't eat it all tonight!

citrus upside down cake

Citrus Cornmeal Upside Down Cake

Adapted from recipe at When Adobo Met Feijoada

Pan Schmear

8 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
Pinch of salt


You can substitute any citrus that you would like, I used
4-5 kumquats
2-3 each of blood oranges, Meyer lemons, and tangerines 

Cornmeal Cake

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk yogurt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp finely grated blood orange zest
1 tbsp freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

To candy the fruit, heat equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan over low to medium heat. When sugar is dissolved, add the citrus slices and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the fruit to cool in the syrup.. Drain and cool slices on a cooling rack. 
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the butter, honey, vanilla, brown sugar and salt, and beat until smooth and blended. Spread 1/3 cup of the schmear onto the bottom of an 10-inch pan. (Reserve the remaining schmear in the refrigerator for two weeks or a month in the freezer.)

Slice off the tops and bottoms of citrus, place on a clean surface and slice away rind and pith top to bottom following curve of fruit. Slice crosswise into 1/4-inch thick, discard any seeds. Arrange on top of pan schmear in a single, tight layer. Set aside and prepare cake batter.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs until blended. Add the yogurt and stir to combine. Add the butter and stir until blended. Add the zest, juice and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.

Using a rubber spatula, fold the wet into the dry ingredients, mixing until just blended. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is lightly golden and cake test comes out clean. Cool the cake on the wire rack for 10 minutes.

Run a knife around the edges of the cake, invert onto a serving platter and serve.




  1. Wow! That looks super amazing!

    I love Pinterest, Instagram, etc. - the people I've encountered have inspired me to do, to try, to experiment, and enjoy!

    I look forward to getting to know you here in the blogging world!

  2. I'm not a baker, so forgive me if my question seems unforgivably obtuse. The directions for making the cake are preceded by directions for candying the citrus slices. But then, in the directions for the cake, it didn't seem as though you were using candied fruit. Can you help me see what I clearly missed? The cake seems so delicious, I'm anxious to give it a try!

    Thanks, John

    1. Hi John!

      The candied citrus slices are on top of the cake. To build the cake, prepare the schmear, fruit, and cake batter all separately and then layer into the pan and bake. You want to candy the citrus first to draw out the moisture and sweeten them so that they don't moisten the cake too much and aren't too sour.

    2. You are kind to reply. I've been waiting for kumquats to return to my produce market and have been told that will happen next week. So I'm finally read to try your lovely looking cake (which I'll imitate slice for slice - I'm neither a baker nor an artist - both of which you clearly are. So, to be clear: Your directions say,

      "Slice off the tops and bottoms of citrus, place on a clean surface and slice away rind and pith top to bottom following curve of fruit. Slice crosswise into 1/4-inch thick, discard any seeds. Arrange on top of pan schmear in a single, tight layer."

      But what I should understand is that, between the slicing and the arranging, I should be candying? (Again, please forgive my ignorance!)