Dessert / Recipes

A Blood Orange Cake for the February Blues

This blood orange cake is perfect for gray February days.

During dreary Michigan winters, when fresh fruit is hard to come by, citrus feels like a little ray of sunshine. I love all winter citrus – in baking, cooking, and cocktails – but there’s something about blood oranges that just feels a bit more special. Maybe because unlike lemons and limes, you can only find blood oranges for a short time during the year. Or maybe it’s the deep ruby color that you get when you cut into one. Whatever it is, when I can get my hands on blood oranges, I like to find ways to showcase them. 

I found a wonderful bag last week, and I’ve been BUSY. I made a blood orange bourbon smash, tossed some into a salad, and ate a few with breakfast. But I had some left over and wanted to do something extra, while keeping their beautiful color front and center. Thus, the Blood Orange Olive Oil Upside-Down Cake was born (what a mouthful). 

Instead of the traditional brown sugar, butter, and lemon mixture for the upside-down topping, I used half brown sugar and half honey. I love blood orange and honey together (shoutout to this beer). I also wanted to incorporate some of the blood orange flavor into the cake itself, so I took a traditional olive oil cake recipe and jazzed it up with some orange zest and juice. 

A word to the wise: do not use a springform pan for this cake. This may be common sense to everyone but me, but I’m sharing this so someone might learn from my mistake. Your topping will leak out all over your oven and you’ll have the strangest burnt honey smell all through your house. The cake will come out of a regular greased cake pan just fine. 

Take some time to make this on a gray winter day and bring some brightness and sunshine into your kitchen. 

Blood Orange Olive Oil Upside-Down Cake

Blood Orange Olive Oil Upside-Down Cake

Yield: 8 pieces
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

A citrusy twist on a traditional olive oil cake using blood oranges and honey.


Upside-Down Topping

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons blood orange juice
  • 1-2 blood oranges, peeled and thinly sliced

Cake Batter

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (Greek if you have it but no worries if you don't)
  • 1/4 cup blood orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon blood orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


    Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8” round cake pan. 

    Make your upside-down topping. In a small saucepan, melt butter and add honey, brown sugar, and orange juice. Cook over low heat for about five minutes, until mixture is combined. Pour into cake pan then arrange orange slices over the sauce. 

    Then make the cake batter. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl using a hand mixer), beat together eggs and sugar at medium-high speed until well-combined. Slowly pour in olive oil until and mix until it’s incorporated. Add yogurt, vanilla, orange juice, and orange zest and continue to mix on medium-high until everything is combined (it will be super liquidy at this point). 

    Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Turn mixer to the lowest speed and add dry ingredients, until mixture is almost - but not quite - combined. Turn off mixer and finish mixing with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides as you go. Do not overmix. 

    Gently and slowly pour batter into the cake pan, covering the orange slices. You want to be careful as you do this so you don’t shift around the oranges too much. 

    Bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the cake pan for 10 minutes, then run a knife along the edges and invert the cake onto a plate or stand, giving the bottom of the pan a few good whacks. When you feel it drop, slowly lift the pan off the cake. 

    This will look beautiful on its own, but you can also decorate with some fresh orange slices and herbs. 

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 367Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 88mgSodium: 320mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 1gSugar: 37gProtein: 4g

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