Daily Archives: March 7, 2010

Blood orange polenta upside-down cake

Upside-down cakes are an interesting creation. They all start with a caramel sauce you make in a big skillet, then you arrange fruit slices on top of it, finally pouring a cake batter over everything and baking to finish. Magically, the sticky caramel and fruit release with the cake when you flip it over onto your serving plate.

I was first attracted to this recipe in Bon Appetit because the pictures were beautiful! I love that ruby pulp of blood oranges and polenta cakes have a sweet taste and slightly grainy texture. I had never made an upside-down cake before, so this would be my first.

I really liked the cake. It was sweet and light, thanks to egg whites that you whip and fold into it. But those oranges are so bitter! Not even just the peel part, but even the fruit! It doesn’t completely ruin the cake for me, but we definitely peeled off the oranges and piled lots of whipped cream on top to offset the bitterness. I honestly don’t think you could slice those oranges thin enough to get rid of any bitterness. It almost tasted like grapefruit, and I do not like grapefruit.

Nevertheless, it is a fun cake to make…

Blood orange polenta upside down cake


  • 7 T sugar, divided, plus 3/4 c. sugar
  • 3 T water
  • 8 T unsalted butter, at room temp, divided
  • 3 unpeeled blood oranges, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 c. plus 3 T flour
  • 3 T coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 6 T whole milk
  • sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Heat oven to 350.

Combine 6 T sugar and 3 T water in 10-inch ovenproof skillet with at least 2-inch sides. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil, swirling skillet, until it turns dark amber, about 4 min. Remove from heat and whisk 2 T butter into it. Arrange orange slices in concentric circles on bottom of skillet.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, polenta, baking powder and salt to blend. Using electric mixer and another bowl, beat 3/4 c. sugar, remaining butter and vanilla until fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk in two additions. Beat until batter is just incorporated.

In a clean bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add remaining 1 T sugar and beat until stiff. Fold 1/3 of whites into batter, then fold the remaining in 2 additions. Drop batter by large spoonfuls atop oranges, then spread evenly.

Bake cake until a tester comes out clean, about 45 min. Cool in skillet 10 min., run a small knife around the edges, place platter on top, then flip the whole thing upside down. The cake should plop onto the plate. If any oranges come loose, rearrange them.

Cool cake completely to room temperature and serve with whipped cream or sweetened creme fraiche.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo