Lemon might be the most versatile flavor of all time, which is why I altered my citrus upside down cake to be more lemon-forward and created this lemon upside-down cake. I love all citrus — blood oranges, lemons, Meyer lemons, Cara Cara oranges, juicy limes, raspberry oranges (which are really just blood oranges but I swear they taste more delicate), minneolas, mandarins, and even your run of the mill naval orange are all on my cravings list. I can eat them for breakfast, lunch, in salads at dinner and in literally anything for dessert. Don’t even get me started on fresh-squeezed orange juice (or other citrus juices) or lemon curd. I made this one special for Mother’s Day and it was a hit.
This is slightly different from the popular cake recipe known as Pineapple Upside-Down Cake due to the flavor of the lemons and lessened sweetness that comes with eating the nearly-candied orange and lemon peeI.
Why lemon upside-down cake?
The first time I made the citrus upside-down cake, I transformed my cakey Madeline recipe into a cake and it came out quite nicely. This time, I switched out the fats in the recipe and made it a bit lighter and fluffier, though it was still a dense cake. I also omitted the coconut this time, and the results were great.
How to make lemon upside-down cake
I made a simple cake base with a flour mixture of gluten-free all purpose flour, sugar and almond flour. If you don’t care for gluten-free, you can use cake flour. The eggs are beaten with butter, simple syrup, goat cheese, whole milk Greek yogurt, lemon zest, lemon, vanilla and butter extracts, lemon zest and lemon juice.
I got the caramel recipe from Epicurious and it was my first time making caramel without condensed milk. The first time was quite the trick, but it’s become easy since then. You put about 3/4 cup sugar into a small saucepan with six tablespoons of water, cook it while stirring for ten minutes and then add 4-5 tablespoons butter and some salt.
Once the caramel is done, you use a rubber spatula to scrape it out and pour it into a buttered pan (I used a 9-inch nonstick round layer pan). Do not use a springform pan, unless you are prepared to clean burnt caramel out of the bottom of your oven.
Putting it together
After that’s done, you layer your oranges in how you like them. I alternated very thinly sliced Cara Cara oranges and lemons. Some recipes suggest using a mandolin, but I use my classic global vegetable knife.
Then, I get out my medium bowl and make the batter. I use a batter bowl, but you can also use a regular mixing bowl. You can use a stand mixer (if you do, be sure to use the paddle attachment and not the whisk attachment). I prefer to hand mix this cake, as it can dry out if over-blended. I do use a small electric mixer on medium speed to beat the egg portion of this recipe.
Let the cake cool and pour batter over the orange and caramel concoction and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Once the warm cake is sufficiently cooled (this is not a cake to cool on a wire rack, due to the caramel topping) so that you can handle the pan, slip a knife around the sides of the cake to make sure it’s loose enough to pop out.
When you are ready to place the cake, place the plate over the cake pan, then flip the pan over. Release, and then stop holding your breath. It will work. The oranges and caramel will be on the top of the cake and beautiful. Just make sure the pan has cooled for at least 20 minutes.
After you’ve cut into this lemon orange cake, serve plain or with vanilla ice cream. You can even dust it with confectioners’ sugar if you’d like. You can cover this with aluminum foil or parchment paper and store in a cool place. This is probably the tastiest way to use your citrus fruit.
An indulgent, gluten-free lemon cake topped with caramel and beautiful lemon and orange slices.
Keyword cake, citrus, dessert, gluten free
Prep Time 20 minutesminutes
Cook Time 10 minutesminutes
1/2cupgluten-free flour(I used Pillsbury)
1/2 cupalmond flourfinely ground
1/2 tspbaking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup simple syrup(regular simple syrup or maple syrup will also work)
1/4 cup goat cheese
4tbspfull-fat Greek yogurt
1 tspvanilla extract
1.5 tsplemon extract
1 tsp.butter extract
1tbsp. lemon zest
For the caramel
1/8 tspsea salt
For the orange topping
1largeCara Cara orange
1 large lemon
Start by beating the eggs with a hand mixer and slowly pour in the simple syrup, beating until creamy. While still mixing add the goat cheese, yogurt and butter (softened).
Once that mixture is creamy, add in vanilla, lemon and butter extracts.
Mix together all of the dry ingredients.
Fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture gently and stir until just blended.
Preheat your oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Follow the directions below, adding the caramel, lemons oranges to the pan before baking for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
For the caramel
Place the sugar and water in a small sauce pan and stir on medium heat for about ten minutes, or until it is a little thicker and coats a spoon. Take it off the heat and add the salt and butter, stirring to combine.
To combine it
Lightly butter an 8-inch nonstick round pan, and pour the caramel into the pan. Layer the citrus slices how you want them to look. I chose a round pattern, alternating Cara Cara oranges and lemon slices.
Pour the cake over the citrus slices. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Wait for the pan to cool.
To plate the cake
Invert the well-cooled plate over the cake pan, then flip it over to let it pop out onto the plate.
I am a mom of two and wife to a martial arts school owner, full-time social media professional and avid cook and gardener. I love creating recipes and involving my kids in the process. The food we cook is usually dairy-free and gluten-free, and sometimes paleo, but we make exceptions (ahem, sourdough bread). The “hippie” part of this blog comes into play in the ingredients we use—I’m pretty vigilant about the health of my family and you could even call me “crunchy.” The “modern” part is that I am busy! You won’t catch me making my own nut milk or churning butter (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I’m more than happy to take the shortcuts provided by our lovely grocery stores and online shopping —especially in the midst of this global pandemic.