I’m pretty sure that the last thing anyone needs is another blood orange recipe. I know I’ve seen at least 20 in the last month. But because I am chronically behind on trends (my closet supports this) I’m posting my contribution now.
Can we just agree that we saved the best for last? We can? Good.
Blood oranges are one of those foods that cause a great freakout in the blogosphere. Other foods that cause us to collectively loose our cool? Asparagus, tomatoes, any stone fruit ever, and strawberries. Foods that don’t cause a freakout? Potatoes. No one freaks out over potatoes. I don’t care how amazing the potatoes are, they will never get the same response as a perfectly ripe strawberry*.
Blood oranges are the midwinter reminder of all things good and summer. Eat them fresh. Make juice**. Make sorbet. Do all of that. Then, just when you’ve got that out of your system, make them into an upside-down cake. And this is one stunning upside-down cake. Simple and quick enough to make mid-week when that cake caving strikes, but fancy enough for a dinner party.
Slice some blood oranges nice and thin. No thinner than that. Thinnnnner. If you don’t slice them thin, it will be hard to cut the cake nice and pretty. It also makes the cake harder to eat. So slice your oranges thinner than I sliced mine. Don’t be scared about leaving the oranges whole. They’re cooking in caramel. I promise they will be sweet, but there will be a slight bitterness to the affair that I particularly like. What really seals the deal on this cake? The cornmeal in the batter. I love cornmeal in desserts, and this is no exception.
*Which we just bought a flat of yesterday. Locally grown and everything. Seriously. Strawberries from 4 miles away that are RIPE***. I might have cried. I may have lost all powers of speech. I may have eaten a whole basket in one sitting.
**Then add gin to it. Preferably Hendricks. And maybe a splash of soda. You're welcome.
***Maybe I will finally be ahead of the curve when it comes to strawberry recipes because I have them, and chances are you don't.
Adapted from Bon Appétit
I found the directions for this recipe to be very confusing. I changed them here, and I hope that they are easier to follow than the original. I used cream instead of milk because we were out of milk and I didn’t want to go to the store. I served the cake with whipped cream, but whipped crème fraîche would be delicious too. I actually liked this cake better the next day.
1 cup plus 2 tablespoon sugar, divided use
3 tablespoons water
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided use
3 unpeeled small to medium blood oranges, sliced into 1/16-1/8” thick rounds, seeds removed
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
3 tablespoons finely ground cornmeal (polenta)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
6 tablespoons whole milk
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and 3 tablespoons water in 10-inch-diameter ovenproof skillet. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup is golden in color, about 4 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and whisk 2 tablespoons butter into caramel. Arrange the orange slices in the caramel, overlapping them slightly in a concentric pattern.
Whisk flour, polenta, baking powder, and coarse kosher salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat 3/4 cup sugar, remaining 6 tablespoons room-temperature butter, and vanilla in another medium bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, beating batter just until incorporated.
In a large clean bowl, beat egg whites in until soft peaks form (I do this by hand. My general rule is less than 4 egg white I beat it by hand, more and I use a mixer. If you want to use the mixer, make sure your beaters are super clean). Stir 1/3 of egg whites into batter to lighten, then gently fold in remaining egg whites in 2 additions. Drop batter by large spoonfuls atop orange slices in skillet, then spread evenly.
Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
Cool cake in skillet 10 minutes. Run small knife around cake to loosen. Place platter atop skillet. Using oven mitts, hold platter and skillet firmly together and invert, allowing cake to settle onto platter. Rearrange any orange slices that may have become dislodged. Cool cake completely at room temperature.