Judith Hausman
January 22, 2014


Photo by Judith Hausman

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This upside-down cake will turn a frown into a smile.

Here’s a sweet for January. Not only does it use citrus in season, but it also is lighter and more sanctimonious than most cakes because January is the month of eaters’ remorse and diet resolutions. The cake is relatively lightly sweetened and uses oil rather than butter.

The technique is easy, too. Take care to peel away the bitter white pith of the oranges just under the thicker skin. Then, lay the sliced oranges in a little melted butter and brown sugar, rather than caramelizing white sugar. Last, spoon the easy batter on top of the oranges and bake. 

It can be a little tricky to turn the cake out of the pan, of course. Cool it after baking but not entirely. Place an upside-down plate on top of the pan, hold the sides and flip it over all at once. The cake should drop onto the plate. If it doesn’t … so what? You can use a cake cutter to lift out individual portions instead. Consider garnishing the slices with a bit of (low-fat!) vanilla ice cream.

Servings: 6 to 8


  • 4 juicy oranges, such as navel or tangelo
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom or ginger
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • grated zest of one orange

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Carefully peel and slice the oranges. In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, melt the butter, brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom (or ginger) together until moistened. Arrange the orange slices concentrically over the sugar-butter mix. Cool briefly while you prepare the batter.

Whisk together yogurt, eggs, orange zest, vanilla and sugar. Mix in flour, additional spice, baking powder and salt. Trickle in the oil and mix gently. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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