Claire's Upside Down Orange Oil Cake

#22 Dessert Person’s Upside Down Orange Oil Cake

This post may contain affiliate links.

Hi there! Today I mBakinga Dessert Person’s Upside Down Orange Oil Cake. This recipe comes from Claire Saffitz’s new cookbook Dessert Person.

Why I tried this recipe

I have previously tried the Chewy Molasses Cookie recipe from Claire’s book and it was fantastic. Hence, I was excited to try more recipes to find more hidden gems that are buried within its covers. This upside down orange cake was a suitable candidate since it required ingredients that would be easy to get in Singapore.

Experiences from trying the Upside Down Orange Oil Cake

It is essential to cut the orange slices as thinly as possible. Also, it would be best to pick an orange with the thinnest pith as possible. Since the oranges would not be precooked, the bitterness of the pith could overpower the cake if it was too thick. I learnt this the hard way. Alternatively, you may actually cut off the pith of the oranges before slicing them into rounds. 

Slice of Upside down Orange Oil Cake
Slice of Upside down Orange Oil Cake

Overall thoughts about this recipe

Because of the way the cake was prepared, the orange layer and the oil cake layer taste like separate components. However, they complement each other well.

The amount of orange juice used in the oil cake was insufficient to make it taste orangey. To increase its orange flavour, it would be better to stab the cake once it has finished baking and brush it generously with some orange juice and let it seep into the cake. 

As such, I would rate Dessert Person’s Upside Down Orange Oil Cake as follows:
(1 being the poor, and 5 being the best)

Ease to make

If you like what you’re reading so far, why not follow me through the links below:

Or if you’re feeling generous today and would love to support my blog, why not donate. All proceeds would go towards maintaining the website and covering the costs of any ingredients used.

Claire's Upside Down Orange Oil Cake

Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Cake, Orange, Vanilla
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 8 slices


  • Electric mixer
  • 8 inch round cake pan
  • Fine mesh grater


  • 600 g oranges about 3 medium oranges
  • 90 g fine sugar 6 tbsp
  • 2 eggs
  • 170 ml vegetable oil 3/4 cup + extra for greasing
  • 160 g plain flour 1 1/3 cup
  • 50 g cornflour 1/3 cup + 2 tsp
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence


  • Preheat the oven to 200°C. Grease the 8 inch cake pan with some vegetable oil.
  • Zest 2 of the medium oranges with a fine mesh grater into a small bowl and set aside. Squeeze the juice from the 2 zested oranges and store the juice in a separate small bowl. You should get a total of 5 tablespoons of orange juice, about 75ml.
  • Place the orange on the cutting board so that the poles are to your left and right and the fruit is resting on the side instead of upright. Use a sharp knife to cut off one pole. Then slice the orange as thinly as possible through the widest part to get as many orange rounds as possible.
  • Whisk 20g (1 tablespoon) of the fine sugar together with 30ml (2 tablespoon) of orange juice and pour into the prepared cake pan to evenly coat the base with a layer of this orange syrup. Then line the base with the sliced orange rounds. You may fit them as snugly as possible or choose to overlap the slices as you desire.
  • In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and 70g of the fine sugar together on a low speed with an electric mixer until many bubbles form. Then increase the mixing speed to high and continue beating it until the mixture is light, thick, ribbony and much paler in colour. This should take at least 5 minutes.
  • Decrease the electric mixer's speed to low and stream in the vegetable oil. Beat to incorporate.
  • Add the flour to the egg mixture and beat on low until just combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure it is all well mixed. Pour the cake batter over the lined oranges in the prepared cake pan and transfer to the oven.
  • Reduce the temperature of the oven to 180°C immediately once the cake is placed inside and bake until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the cetnre comes out clean, about 35 to 45 minutes.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes in the pan before inverting it onto your desired serving dish. The cake can be stored well covered for up to 3 days at room temperature or up to a week in the refrigerator.


The original recipe can be found in Claire's book Dessert Person.