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  • Writer's pictureBiagio D

Upside Down Citrus Ombré Cake

Updated: Aug 10, 2020

The decision to adapt this Food Network recipe came from my decision to join a lab which works on citrus pathogens. While I work on grape diseases, the relevance to my day-to-day work and the vibrant colors and geometric patterns of this cake caught my attention. This recipe was easy to put together and the cake portion was both delicate and moist. Although the meyer lemons and grapefruit rendered portions of the cake too bitter to enjoy, I would sacrifice the colorful ombré effect and remake this recipe using only navel oranges.

Yield: 9 servings


3 meyer lemons

2 navel oranges

1 ruby red grapefruit

3 blood oranges


¼ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon water

Buttermilk Cake Batter:

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

a pinch of salt

5/8 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons butter

1 whole egg

1 egg yolk

¾ cup buttermilk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

zest from one navel orange


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Slice the citrus fruits into ¼ inch thick circles and cut the peel off to make squares.

3. In a small saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, and water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the sugar is dissolve. Pour the mixture into an 8x8 inch baking dish and spread over the surface evenly.

4. Arrange the citrus squares in a pattern over the glaze covering the entire surface of the baking dish and set aside.

5. In a mixing bowl, place the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk together. In second mixing bowl, mix together the butter and granulated sugar. Add the eggs and beat together. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and combine. Add the buttermilk and mix until there are no lumps. Mix in the vanilla and zest.

6. Pour cake batter over the citrus squares. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center. Run a knife along the edges of the cake and let cool for 30 minutes.

7. Place a cutting board or large serving dish upside down over the top of the baking dish and quickly, but carefully, invert the cake. Lift the dish off and serve soon after cooling.

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