For me, citrus season heralds in the start of the beginnings of Spring. I know, I know, it's still freezing & frosty outside, but the snowdrops are starting to peep out & as the zing of fresh citrus hits the market or tumbles into our veg boxes, I start to dream of warmer weather. This utterly delicious Lemon & Blood Orange Upside Down Cake is a vegan celebration of the citrus season!
You can use any kind of citrus in this cake, so don't worry if you don't have blood oranges around. In fact, the lemons I used in the photo weren't 'lemons' but a close relative called Citron Beldi, which I got from my Veg box scheme (I use Abel & Cole). The point is, you want a lovely sharp & tangy citrus flavour, which is then turned into an almost glacé effect once the sugar syrup is poured over & the cake baked on top of it. So use your favourite or get experimental with a local or different variety!
The almond flour in the recipe is mostly to add a little extra depth & moistness to mix, however you could leave it out if you can't eat nuts, or substitute it for some polenta or another nut flour. If you do leave it out, be sure to add the same weight back in of flour.
For ease of getting the cake out of the tin & keeping it looking beautiful once turned out, I really do suggest using a spring form tin ; the kind you clip the sides on in a sort of clunk, clack way. Be sure to line it well with baking paper. The best way is to make a circle a little bigger than the base of the tin, then snip your way around the extra & settle it into the tin so the extra bits sit up the edges. This means that the whole of the base is covered. (Take a look at the photo below to see the citrus all arranged over the baking paper in the bottom of the tin)
I also suggest putting the tin on a baking sheet, as because it has sides that clip on, it might leak a little when the sugar syrup is poured over the citrus on the base of the cake. (Plus the cake batter is quite liquid- Don't panic! It comes out beautifully once cooked!)
This recipe was developed by Vanessa, one of the original co-founders of this site. Vanessa is now working on her plant based health coaching business, Energise and Thrive Plant Based. She helps people get high energy, great health, and balanced eating with delicious plant-based food.
She’s also brought out her FREE Guide - 5 Steps to Balanced Plant Based Eating which you’re welcome to download. Of course, all the recipes she has created for The Vegan Larder (like this one!) will remain here for you to access.
When your lovely Vegan Lemon & Blood Orange Upside down cake is finally cooked, leave it in the tin to cool, then unclip the edges, before turning it out on the plate you want to serve it on!. The base of the cake ends up on top of the cake & becomes the lovely stained glass-a-like citrus decoration! Gorgeous!
Vegan Blood Orange & Lemon Upside Down Cake
For accuracy, I measure all ingredients in metric as standard, then convert and test the recipe for American cup measurements etc.
(Heads up Aussie and UK readers- your measurements in cups are sometimes different, so please use metric or check you have the correct cup and spoon type!!)
For the Orange & Lemon Upside Down Top
- 2-3 citrus fruits of choice eg: lemons, blood orange, grapefruit, orange (Make sure the fruit is unwaxed and has a thin pith. )
- 100 g caster sugar
- 60 ml cup water
For the Cake Batter
- 65 g almond flour
- 300 g self raising flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 300 g caster sugar (or any other sugar)
- 140 ml sunflower oil
- 400 ml water
- 100 ml fresh citrus juice ((approx the juice of 2 lemons, or 1.5 oranges) )
- Grated zest of 1 unwaxed orange or lemon
- To arrange the fruit
- Preheat oven to 180 C/ Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a round cake tin (ideally 9 inches/22cm) with baking paper. Make sure the lining goes around the sides of the cake tin. Once lined, grease the exposed baking paper with a little vegetable oil / vegan butter.
- Slice the citrus fruit into 1cm pieces.
- Next, heat the 100g of sugar with the 60ml of water on a medium heat until all the sugar is totally dissolved.
- Put the tin onto a oven tray. (this prevents leaking into your oven!)
- Pour half the dissolved sugar and water mix into the bottom of the lined cake tin. Next, arrange the slices of citrus at the bottom of the cake tin. Fit in as many whole slices as you can, overlapping them or making pretty patterns.
- Once you are happy with your arrangement, pour the rest of the sugar-water mix over the slices. Set aside while you make the cake mixture.
- To make the cake
- In a large mixing bowl sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Then add the almond flour and the caster sugar.
- In another bowl mix the oil, water, citrus juice and orange rind. Then add this to the bowl of other ingredients. Mix well.
- Very carefully and slowly, pour the mixture into the cake tin over the prepared citrus fruit.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Once baked, allow the cake to fully cool in the tin. Once cool very carefully turn this out on to a plate or serving tray. Easiest method is to place a plate on top of the cake tin, then grip the cake tin and plate together and flip it over so it can drop on to the plate. Remove the tin and peel off baking paper.
This recipe looks beautiful but I was skeptical of the recipe because there's no binder for the batter. I tried it anyway and as suspected it's crumbly and falls apart. The taste is fine but it didn't hold its shape at all. I used the spring form pan, parchment paper, pan underneath and all.
I wonder if the author made the cake....? If so how did you keep its shape?
Louise-Claire Cayzer says
I'm sorry the cake was crumbly for you.
I've made the cake often without any issues. (The photos are all taken by me & made to the recipe, and the recipe tested by both of us before posting. ) The oil content keeps it moist & holding together. The lack of binder has never been an issue- either with this cake, or the chocolate cake which we make that has the same method.
I do wonder if maybe your oven runs hotter than mine/ours & maybe it overcooked a little which is why it crumbled?
Thank you for the feedback. It wasn't dry/overcooked--very moist "crumble". Maybe the "self rising" flour has something to do with it. I am in the U.S. and self rising flour isn't as commonly used/stocked at home. So I followed a substitution using baking powder and salt as per King Arthur flour guidelines. I ended up crumbling cake completely and mixing with non dairy milk thickened with a little guar gum and baking more and it's now a denser cake-more like a pound cake. Original taste was still there and good!
Louise-Claire Cayzer says
OH interesting. Yes that might have had something to do with it. If I ever run out of self-raising flour I use 3 tsp of baking powder to 225 g of plain flour, and generally add one more of bicarb soda for extra 'lift'. I made it several times last year, and it is a tender crumb, but held together well each time.
I haven't made it this year because it's such a big cake & we're only two people in the house (shakes fist at Covid) ... Might have to do a mini version!