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Orange-Almond Upside-Down Cake

Scott Phillips

Servings: 10 to 12

Almond and orange is a classic flavor combination that never gets old. Here, ground almonds and orange zest are incorporated into the cake batter, while sliced almonds add a toasty crunch to the sliced orange topping. Leaving the skin on the orange slices helps them to keep their shape during baking; it softens nicely and adds a lovely bittersweet flavor.


For the topping

  • 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter; more for the pan
  • 2 small navel oranges, preferably organic
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

For the cake

  • 2/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 6-3/4 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream, at room temperature

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 360
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 180
  • Fat (g): 21
  • Saturated Fat (g): 10
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7
  • Cholesterol (mg): 70
  • Sodium (mg): 190
  • Carbohydrates (g): 39
  • Fiber (g): 2
  • Protein (g): 5


Make the topping

  • Butter a 9×2-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter the parchment.
  • Using a rasp grater, finely grate 2 tsp. zest from 1 orange and reserve for the cake. Halve the orange and squeeze to yield 3 Tbs. juice. Trim the ends off the other orange, quarter it lengthwise, and then slice the quarters crosswise 1/8 inch thick; set aside.
  • Combine the butter and sugar in a 2-quart saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is a color slightly darker than peanut butter, about 5 minutes. Add the orange juice (be careful; it will bubble and steam). Cook, stirring, until combined, about 30 seconds. Immediately pour the caramel into the cake pan. Let sit until cool enough to touch, about 5 minutes.
  • Decoratively arrange as many of the orange slices as fit comfortably on the caramel, leaving some space between for the almonds. Sprinkle the almonds between the orange slices.

Make the cake

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F.
  • Spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, stirring once, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Let cool. Pulse in a food processor until finely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl and combine with the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer), beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the reserved orange zest and the almond extract, and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour (in 3 additions) and the sour cream (in 2 additions), beginning and ending with the flour, and beating until just combined after each addition.
  • With a spatula, gently scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan without disturbing the topping. Smooth the surface. Tap the pan firmly against the counter once or twice to remove any air bubbles. Bake, rotating halfway through, until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to release it from the pan. Invert the cake onto a serving plate. Remove the pan, and rearrange any fruit or nuts that have stuck to the parchment. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Rate or Review

Reviews (5 reviews)

  • Taunted | 08/31/2019

    After many years of making fine cooking dishes & deserts, and maybe 6 times making this specific desert, I can safely say this is my number one favorite cake, period. It is dense, as others have pointed out, but the orange & almond flavours come though intensely, making even small portions utterly satisfying.

    One reviewer had trouble with the oranges being under-cooked and chewy, but I’ve never experienced that. I sliced the oranges too thickly one time, but even so it was delicious. I can only recommend embedding the oranges in the caramel while it’s still fairly hot, ensuring they’re paper-thin, and not layering the oranges too thickly. I’d even recommend trying different oranges. All I know is that that poor reviewer is missing out! I know of no cake more perfect than this.

  • HeatherZwicker | 02/12/2015

    This has quickly become a go-to cake. It has more steps than the Ottolenghi clementine cake (if you know that one?), but keeps equally well at room temp., meaning you can make it ahead by a day. And it looks fantastic. The oranges and almonds form a beautiful topping in a glaze that's not too sweet. If you like really light cakes, this is probably not for you; if like me you think a moist pound-like cake is heaven, then this sour ceam based recipe will suit you. Oh - I did not have the problem noted in the review below, about "marmaladey" orange slices. I've made this 3 times now, and both almonds and oranges are just the way I'd want them.

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