With caramelized honey and fresh rosemary, this blood orange upside-down cake is exactly the citrusy dessert you need! This cake turns out light, fluffy, and moist – no cake mix necessary. The blood oranges add an effervescent brightness while the rosemary grounds the whole cake with an earthy freshness.
A Citrus Cake with Bright and Earthy Notes
Making the most of citrus season often means searching out the best recipes to use up the bright abundance of these delicious fruits.
This cheery cake is exactly what you are looking for, using blood oranges, honey, and fresh rosemary for a sweet and fresh taste. The rosemary compliments the blood oranges magnificently!
You could use different citrus fruits besides blood oranges if you have something else readily available. Other possible options are regular oranges, Cara Cara oranges, mandarin oranges, tangelo, grapefruit, or a mixture!
The fresh rosemary lends an enticing and natural earthy flavor to this cake, pairing flawlessly with the citrus notes. You could also use dried rosemary if that’s what you have access to, just cut the amount in half. Fresh or dried thyme would also work well in this recipe!
I used butter in this recipe for a rich flavor that is satisfying and evident throughout, making for a blissfully fluffy and moist cake. If you prefer ghee or coconut oil, you could substitute with either at a 1:1 ratio as well.
Buttermilk lends a super-rich and well-rounded flavor to this cake. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can substitute with whole milk and 1 tbs lemon juice or vinegar, or plain yogurt at a 1:1 ratio. Find more buttermilk substitution ideas here.
If you need to substitute the eggs in this recipe, here are some great egg substitute options to try (note that this recipe has not been tested using egg substitutes).
The edges of this uplifting flavored cake turn crispy with the caramelized sugar similar to that of an angel food cake. If you prefer coconut sugar, that should work just as well at a 1:1 ratio.
Can’t get enough upside-down cake? Try this Plum and Lemon Upside-Down Cake with Lavender Whipped Cream, and this Rhubarb Upside Down Cake!
Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake Recipe
Now let’s get on with making this delicious orange cake!
First, preheat the oven to 350° F (175°C).
Then grease a 10″ springform pan, and I recommend you also line the bottom with parchment paper so the delicious caramelized parts don’t stick. Set the cake pan onto a baking sheet in case of any leaks.
This is a good time to zest and juice, slice the oranges, and finely chop the fresh rosemary.
Make the Rosemary Syrup
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine and simmer the sugar, water, honey, and rosemary for 5 minutes.
Add the blood orange slices, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for another 5 minutes or until the oranges soften but aren’t yet falling apart.
Remove from the heat and set aside.
Mix the Dry Ingredients
Next, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
Mix the Wet Ingredients
Use a small bowl to combine the zest, and juice of the oranges with the buttermilk.
Using a mixer (either hand or stand, whatever you have!) cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Turn your mixer to low speed and add in the vanilla, eggs one at a time, and the chopped rosemary.
Once you stop the mixer, scrape the sides and bottom to make sure it’s all mixed together thoroughly.
To combine the wet and dry ingredients together, use your mixer on low and alternate the buttermilk and flour mixtures into the butter and sugar mixture until both are emptied.
Keep mixing until it is well combined and evenly distributed.
Layer the Oranges
To assemble the orange layer, lay one slice flat in the middle of the springform pan. Then, lay orange slices around the center orange slice in a circular pattern until the bottom of the pan is filled to the edges with oranges. You want all of the orange slices to overlap.
Use two tablespoons of the orange rosemary syrup to spread evenly across the layer of oranges, then save the rest of the syrup.
Bake the Cake
Pour the batter into the pan on top of the layered blood oranges.
Set the springform pan on a baking sheet to catch any leaks, and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. It will smell divine!
Once it’s set, let it cool in the pan for about 20 minutes. Then carefully run a knife along the edge to free the cake from the sides of the pan.
Next, release the springform and very carefully flip it over onto a wire rack so the blood orange slices are face-up. Allow the cake to cool for another 30 minutes, although in honesty, it’s hard to wait!
Serve and Eat the Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake
Once cooled and ready, drizzle the cake with the leftover simple syrup before serving.
Enjoy the bright, caramelized, deliciousness that is blood orange upside-down cake with rosemary!
The entire orange and rind are edible due to being sliced thinly and candied in the honey-sugar syrup that baking creates. They’re really tasty!
The rich flavor together with the tart and sweet pairing of this cake is perfect all on its own, but would also be really delicious with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream!
More Citrus Recipes
- Fermented Lemons
- Grapefruit Curd
- Lemon Lavender Shortbread Cookies
- Lemon Rosemary Shortbread Cookies
- Rosemary Champagne Cocktail w/ Blood Orange
- 12 Ways to Preserve Citrus
Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake with Rosemary
Orange Rosemary Syrup
Orange Rosemary Syrup
- In a saucepan combine the sugar, water, honey, and rosemary. Turn the heat to medium and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the blood orange slices and allow to simmer on low for an additional 5 minutes or just until the oranges begin to soften, but are not falling apart.
- Remove from heat and set aside.
Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175 C°)
- Grease a 10” springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Make sure to grease the parchment paper, too. Place it on a baking sheet and set it aside.
- In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl combine the zest and juice of the blood oranges with the buttermilk. Set aside.
- Using your hand mixer or stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low add in the vanilla, eggs (one at a time), and rosemary. Once incorporated turn the mixer off and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl making sure there aren’t any unmixed portions in the bottom.
- With the mixer on low add the buttermilk and flour mixtures to the butter and sugar mixture by alternating between flour and buttermilk until both are gone. Mix until evenly distributed.
- Using the orange slices from the syrup, begin to assemble the orange layer. Starting at the center of the springform pan lay down a single orange slice flat. Layer a circle of oranges around the first orange working from the central orange slice to the edges of the pan. Make sure to overlap each orange and each layer.
- Spoon two tablespoons of the simple syrup evenly over the oranges. Reserve the remaining syrup.
- Pour the batter into your prepared springform pan. Bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. *Note, bake on the cookie sheet previously mentioned as the syrup mixture may leak.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes run a knife around the edge of the pan to make sure the cake is free from the sides.
- Release the springform and carefully flip it over onto a wire rack and allow it to cool for another 30 minutes.
- Drizzle the cake with leftover syrup before serving.
- Use different citrus fruits besides blood oranges if you have something else readily available. Other possible options are regular oranges, Cara Cara oranges, mandarin oranges, tangelo, grapefruit, or a mixture!
- If you don't have fresh rosemary, dried rosemary will also, just cut the amount in half. Fresh or dried thyme is another option.
- If you don’t have buttermilk, you can substitute with whole milk and 1 tbs lemon juice or vinegar, or plain yogurt at a 1:1 ratio.