Fresh Mandarin Orange Upside Down Cornmeal Cake

What fun, to cook fruit on the bottom of a cake in a light caramel, then invert it to show it off!

            I accidentally ended up with a large sack of fresh Mandarin oranges recently. The oranges were beautiful! Organically grown in the US, I knew they would have lovely flavor and I was right. However, there are only so many that one would want to eat in a week!

A versatile cornmeal cake

            I turned to a cornmeal cake which has a lot of body and flavor. It’s quick to put together, and satisfying as a dessert or snack with afternoon tea. Over time, I’ve reduced the sugar considerably! I’ve swapped out vegan butter and soy milk for the dairy, but it is still a little on the rich side, so a tenth of a cake is a good portion in my book (perhaps not for the men in the family). 

Show off citrus

If you can’t find fresh Mandarins, tangerines or Clementines will work nicely, or even a large sweet orange. And if you have a sweet tooth and want more caramel, simply double those ingredients!

The berries are also optional, or you could use tart cherries or cranberries if the raspberries are not readily available. This would be equally as delicious using lemon rather than orange, just swap the extract and zest.

The delight begins when your eyes first fall on this pretty dessert.

Fresh Mandarin Orange Upside Down Cornmeal Cake

  • 2 tbsp. vegan or dairy butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 or 6 fresh mandarin oranges
  • ½ cup or so fresh raspberries
  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. fine cornmeal
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 heaping tbsp. orange zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup soy milk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • ½ tsp. orange extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease an 8” springform pan and line with parchment. Butter the parchment as well. In a pinch, you can use wax paper, that’s what my mom would have used, or just be brave and grease it really, really well.

Zest about half the oranges, section one, then very thinly slice the rest. 

Place butter, brown sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and melt over low heat. Once melted, pour into the prepared pan and move about until level. 

Arrange the slices of orange on the bottom of the pan, nestling a raspberry top-side down under the center of each slice. Fill in the edges with the reserved segments.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and orange zest, then whisk together.

In another bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, milk, oil, and extract. Whisk together, then pour into the dry. Switch to a wooden spoon and combine. The batter will still be a little lumpy.

Bake on the middle rack for 40 minutes, turning around at 30 to evenly cook.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge, release the sides of the pan, place a cake plate on top, and invert.

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59 Comments Add yours

  1. Suzassippi says:

    It reminds me of a cobbler, or even a steamed pudding. It looks like I want to reach out and eat it right now.

    1. Oops! You are too late. Husband gobbled the last piece yesterday!

      1. Suzassippi says:

        Guess I have no choice but to make my own.

  2. Awesome recipe! Looks delicious

    1. Thank you! It was really delicious and a great use of these oranges.

  3. Bernadette says:

    This cake is lovely to look at and I will be it is just as delicious as it looks. It is perfect for this time of the year when all varieties of oranges are available. I’ll bet blood oranges would be beautiful.

    1. Thank you Bernadette! Oh yes, blood oranges would be striking indeed!

  4. Such a beautiful cake!
    Upside-Down cakes are a favorite of mine, and by now I’ve prepared so many versions of it, but am always excited to find one more! 🙂

    1. I love them too Ronit! There’s always that little bit of tension, will it turn out in tact! It usually does, but we never know.

      1. Living on the edge! 😉

  5. NativeNM says:

    It’s kind of ironic that you posted this cake today. My brother was just asking me if I knew of any dessert to use his mandarin oranges in. This looks like the perfect recipe for him! Your cake looks and sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ah! The synchronicity of the Universe! I had ordered tangerines and got the Mandarins instead!

  6. c.a. says:

    Ooh, yes! Anything cooked in caramel is better; well, except asparagus; that’s not so great together. 😂

    1. Ha ha! Now I find myself imagining asparagus in caramel!

  7. Yum, my mouth is watering now, lol

    1. Thank you! It was really good!

  8. Looks so appetizing and I love upside down cakes!

    1. Thank you! They are fun aren’t they?

  9. Nancy says:

    I just heard the last piece is gone… so I’ll be making this. Cornmeal and mandarins are going on my grocery list. Oh I can’t wait!

    1. Enjoy this little cake! What I love is that with minimal effort you get a beautiful and tasty reward!

  10. CarolCooks2 says:

    Looks and sounds delicious, Dorothy but as I have glut of mangoes I will be using them instead 🙂

    1. Perfect! A great way to use any abundance!

  11. What a beautiful and different cake, it sounds wonderful!

    1. Thank you Jenna! It is really easy and delicious.

  12. Ally Bean says:

    These are flavors I know I’d love to eat together. One question, what is *fine* cornmeal?

    1. Fine as in a fine mill as opposed to a coarse.
      But, it should also be fine cornmeal as in non-gmo! 😊

      1. Ally Bean says:

        Got it. I’m not sure what kind of cornmeal I’ve bought in the past. Will be more cognizant in the future.

      2. Both fine and medium would be great here.

  13. Sherry M says:

    i love mandarins and raspberries. this sounds terrific.

    1. It was so good, and also an excuse to buy those precious raspberries!

  14. nancyc says:

    This orange-flavored cake sounds so yummy! I love that it’s made with cornmeal too!

    1. Thank you Nancy! The cornmeal lends a nice texture to the cake.

  15. This sounds wonderful, Dorothy. Oranges are out of season but will be coming soon as it is now autumn here.

    1. Something to look forward to!

  16. Carole says:

    Looks amazingly delicious!

    1. Thank you Carole! It was really a treat!

  17. Leah says:

    Wow! This is such a pretty looking cake!

    1. Thank you! You take the first bite with your eyes!

  18. Oranges + raspberries = delicious.

    1. Thank you! They were indeed!

  19. Sowmya says:

    Lovely and delicious cake Dorothy. Mandarin oranges are my favourite. Will soon try your recipe. Thanks for sharing

    1. Thank you Sowmya! I hope you enjoy this cake as much as we did!

  20. I have just seen a banana upside cake and now I see yours! I think I need to try it 😉

    1. They are such fun to make, and so rewarding when turned out!

  21. Christy B says:

    The orange flavor would be so freshing in this cake!

    1. It’s really good! And since I reduced the sugar, even better for me, but others might like more caramel.

  22. Forestwood says:

    A fun idea Dorothy and it looks great. I am not sure we have mandarin oranges here, but I suspect that if I just used ordinary oranges, the flavour would truly permeate the layers of the cake, yes?

    1. Any orange can be used here as long as the peeling is not too thick and pithy. Just slice them very thin and they will melt into the cake! Good luck!

      1. Forestwood says:

        Okay! Thanks for the tip. I might even try some slices that are peeled completely?

      2. Absolutely! That would work as well.

  23. sunisanthosh says:

    So tempting.

    1. Thanks! It’s a nice little dessert or snack.

  24. So simple and delicious.

    1. Thank you! It was easy to make, and everyone enjoyed it as well!

  25. Lillie says:

    This looks delicious – and pretty enough to impress! I may try this one with some clementines.

    1. Thank you Lillie! Clementines would be perfect!

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