There Will Be Blood (Oranges)


Oscar night is once again upon us, and I don’t know about y’all, but I for one am pretty excited.  I always enjoy watching people winning at things (the Super Bowl, the Olympics, etc.), but the Oscars is one of my particular favorites, especially in years when I’ve actually seen some of the nominated films.  (Personally, I’m pulling for Lady Bird because it was just so damn good and made me cry more than any other movie I’ve seen in a while, which is saying something, because I’m not usually a movie cry-er.)  But even in years when I haven’t really kept up with my movie watching, Oscar night is always a fun excuse to drink champagne and daydream about what gown (or perhaps lady tux) I’d wear and who I’d thank in my acceptance speech (after winning for my spot-on portrayal of a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a biopic chronicling her years as an ACLU lawyer fighting for gender equality, of course).

Anyway, to accompany said champagne during my personal Oscar party this year, I decided to whip up this blood orange upside down cake, partly because citrus generally pairs well with champagne, but mostly because I saw the recipe on Instagram the other day and immediately started drooling and mumbling in a zombie-like manner “Muuust baaaake blood orangeeee” (my coworkers were a little alarmed, but they’ll get it once they taste this baby tomorrow).  The recipe is from Bon Appetit, with just two tiny modifications from me–subbing in dark brown sugar for some of the granulated sugar and adding a dash of almond extract because, as you know, I never met a baked good that wouldn’t be improved by almond extract.

Served with a sizeable dollop of homemade whipped cream, this cake is pure blood orange-y heaven and definitely worth adding to your citrus-based baking rotation.  If you lack access to blood oranges (or just aren’t that into them), I think this recipe would work perfectly well with other citrus (already mentally adapting a lemon poppy seed version–stay tuned for a future post on that front).

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake
As you can see from the gaps around my center orange slice, I really could’ve used another ring of orange slices to get full coverage on the top of my cake. A note to self for next time, but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out nevertheless.


  • 1/3 cup turbinado (raw) sugar
  • 3-4 small-ish blood oranges, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp sugar (the BA recipe uses all white, but I went with half dark brown and half white)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt (I used 1 tsp because I’m lazy and didn’t feel like getting out another measuring spoon)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
  • zest of one small-ish blood orange
  • 2 tbsp blood orange juice
  • 1 tsp almond extract (optional)
The more you overlap the orange slices, the less cake you’ll see peeking through the top post-baking.


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Thoroughly butter a 9 or 10 in. springform pan, then sprinkle the turbinado sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan.  Layer in the orange slices on top of the sugar and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, then add in the wet ingredients and mix until combined.  The consistency will be a bit like super thick pancake batter, and it’s fine if it’s not totally smooth–just make sure there are no big chunks of unincorporated flour.  (Note: I whisked this by hand because that’s how the BA recipe was written, but I see no reason why you couldn’t use a mixer if you prefer).
  3. Pour the batter over the blood orange slices and smooth out the top.  Bake until the top is golden brown, cake is pulling away from the sides of the pan, and a cake tester comes out clean.  The BA recipe says 35-40 minutes, but for me it took about an hour for the cake to cook all the way through, so just be aware that cooking time may vary depending on your oven.
  4. Let the cake cool in the pan for about five minutes on a wire rack before turning out and removing the springform.
  5. Serve warm or room temperature with a dollop of homemade whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  If you’re baking on a Sunday like me, the leftovers are sure to make the perfect cake-for-breakfast-because-Monday the next morning.
A splash of leftover blood orange juice in the champagne makes for an even more blood orange-y experience.




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