I am not a huge fan of oranges; all that pith in a glass of juice or if eating it whole I invariably buy that one sour orange on offer. However, blood oranges are a completely different story. I find they are usually quite tart which makes them perfect for cooking as you can add a bit of sugar for balance.
Having some friends over for a weeknight dinner, and as always, my best laid plans of preparing everything the day before had not been realised so I was scouring my cookbooks for a stunning, yet straightforward recipe. I came across Donna Hay's sticky orange and vanilla upside-down cake in her Seasons book. Having made a variant of the cake before, I knew it would work, but without Donna's fantastic team of food stylists there was no chance of my vanilla bean looking that artful. Instead I decided to distract my guests with the novelty of a deep rosy, blood orange topping.
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (I substituted vanilla extract)
- 2 large or 4 small oranges, thinly sliced
- Donna Hay says to leave the skin on as it does help the orange retain its shape whilst being poached, however I don't like the taste so removed it from all but 1 of my oranges. Decide which you prefer depending on how neat you want your orange layer to look.
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup SR flour
- 150g melted butter
- 1 cup almond meal
- Preheat your oven to 160 degrees and line a 20cm pan. I would recommend an oven-proof frypan with high side or a silicon pan so that your syrup does not leak out the bottom.
- Put the sugar, water, and vanilla into a saucepan over low heat and Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Gently add the orange slices and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the orange is soft. Be careful not to stir and damage the orange slices
- Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Put the eggs, sugar and vanilla into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture is thick, pale and tripled in volume. This is the perfect time to use a Kitchen Aid if you have it!
- Sift in the flour and fold through until combined.
- Fold through the melted butter and almond meal.
- Using tongs, layer your orange slices in the bottom of your lined pan, then pour the syrup over. I kept about half a cup to pour over once the baking was finished.
- Pour the cake batter over the orange and syrup and bake for 40-45 minutes.
- Leave to cool in pan for a few minutes, then while still warm flip onto a plate.
- Serve with cream or ice cream and top with some of the reserved syrup.