{Bake Along} Orange-Almond Upside-Down Cake

Almond Orange Upside Down Cake

When the February/March issue of Fine Cooking came out, I was immediately drawn to the series on upside-down cakes. Despite being afraid of caramel, I knew that I had to make one of the cakes… the problem was, which one? I settled on the below Orange-Almond Upside-Down Cake but even before I made it, I had to know how the other ones would turn out. I invited my amazing sister-in-law, Lauren, over at Live, Dine, Party to bake one of these cakes along with me.

Lauren started her blog last year to chronicle her adventures in a new home, cooking, and entertaining. Lauren comes from a long line of amazing Italian cooks (ahem, Lauren, you still owe me a ravioli lesson!) and it shows in her food. Today, she’s sharing with you a Cranberry Streusel Upside-Down Cake. I know I just made this cake (two days ago, in fact), but I think Lauren has convinced me to dig that bag of frozen cranberries out of my freezer to give her version a shot.

While Lauren has me drooling over her cake, I was pleased with how my Orange-Almond Upside-Down Cake came out. It was one of the few desserts that I have made that was *really easy* to make look really pretty. I walked by it several times, trying to convince myself that I could dig in. But alas, I brought the cake, untouched, to work. Visually, the cake was impressive. And it tasted fantastic. The almond with the sweet burst of orange juice and the slight bitterness of the peel was an unexpected combination.

Prep Note: There’s a fair bit of prep to this recipe. I don’t mean hours of baking and resting, but a couple extra steps that are best done ahead of time (like toasting and grinding almonds) to make the assembly go quicker. 

Almond Orange Upside Down Cake

Orange-Almond Upside-Down Cake

Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 127 (p. 82)

Makes one 9-inch round cake

Ingredients for the Topping:

  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 2/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 small oranges
  • 1/2 c. slivered almonds

Ingredients for the Cake: 

  • 2/3 c. slivered almonds
  • 8 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 c. sour cream, at room temperature

Prep Work:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Toast the almonds for the cake (2/3 c.) for about 5 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on baking sheet before pulsing in a food processor until finely ground.

Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter again. Set aside.

Zest and juice 1 orange (or, if using large oranges, half an orange). You need 2 tsp. orange zest and 3 Tbs. freshly squeezed orange juice. Set aside.

Slice the remaining 2 oranges, as thin as you can get them. Discard ends. Then cut each slice into quarters. Set aside.

Make the Topping:

In a medium-sized pot, combine butter and sugar over medium heat. Stir occasionally, until caramel is just slightly darker in color than peanut butter. Watch carefully – I have a bad habit of ruining caramel by overcooking it. 🙂 When mixture is a light brown, slowly add orange juice. Stir until bubbling stops and orange juice has been completely incorporated, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and pour immediately into the prepared pan. Allow to sit until cool enough to touch, about 5 minutes.

When cake is cool, arrange orange slices in caramel. Fill in extra spaces with slivered almonds.

Make the Cake:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down sides of the bowl and add orange zest and almond extract until just combined. Scrape down sides of the bowl again and add eggs, one at a time. Add ground almonds, baking powder, and salt. Add half of sour cream, then half of flour. Add remaining sour cream and remaining flour, scraping down sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

Pour batter into pan. Even out top with a spatula, taking care not to disturb the orange and almond slices.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and set on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pan to loosen, and invert onto a serving cake and remove from pan. Allow to cool completely.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Amazingly Rich Chocolate Cake

April 105

I made this cake for my best friend’s bridal luncheon. It was perfect for the occasion – impressive and incredibly indulgent. The cake was rich and chocolatey. It melted in your mouth.

Make Ahead: This cake is best started the day before serving, due to prep times and freezing times. However, the cake and mousse can be made and frozen up to three weeks ahead of time. (See below for details).

American Beauty Cake

Adapted from The Pastry Queen (p. 84-85)

Serves 14-16

Ingredients for the Cake:

  • 1 c. unsalted butter
  • 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs. dark rum or Kahlua (optional)

Ingredients for the Milk Chocolate Mousse:

  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter
  • 10 oz. milk chocolate
  • 3 large eggs, separated (into yolks & whites) and then brought to room temperature
  • 3 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. heavy whipping cream, chilled

Ingredients for the Dark Chocolate Glaze:

  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 c. light corn syrup
  • 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


  • fresh berries (optional)

Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper. Spray bottom and sides of pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a double broiler set over medium heat, melt chocolate and butter. While chocolate and butter are melting, whisk together eggs and sugar.

When chocolate mixture is smooth, remove from heat. Whisk in the egg mixture, a little at a time, until well combined. Stir in vanilla and rum.

Pour mixture into prepared cake pan. Place cake pan in a large roasting or baking pan, and fill with enough hot water to come two-thirds of the way up the sides of the cake pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, until cake is firm to the touch. Remove from oven and roasting pan. Place cake in the pan on a wire rack to cool completely. (Note: Cake rises in the oven but deflates to it’s original size as it cools).

American Beauty Cake

Make the Mousse: In a double broiler set over medium heat, melt chocolate and butter. Set aside and allow to cool.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg yolks and sugar on medium speed until smooth. Reduce speed to low or “stir,” and add vanilla. Slowly add cooled chocolate mixture until just incorporated. Scrape down sides of both and, if needed, mix again. Transfer to a clean bowl.

With a clean bowl and whisk attachment in the stand mixer, whip egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture, one-third at a time. Set aside.

Again, with a clean bowl and whisk attachment in the stand mixer, whip heavy cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Fold into chocolate mixture.

Pour mousse on top of cooled cake, spreading evenly. Mousse should come to the top of the cake pan. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Freeze for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. (If making ahead, cake can remain in freezer like this for up to 3 weeks).

The day you serve, make the glaze by heating corn syrup, heavy cream, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Add chocolate to saucepan. Stir or whisk until smooth. Keep glaze at room temperature so that you can pour it over cake (add more heavy cream if it gets too thick).

Assemble the cake: Remove cake from freezer and unwrap. Dip bottom and sides of pan in hot water to loosen. Invert onto a plate to remove from pan. Invert onto another plate or serving dish again, so that mousse is on top. Pour the glaze over top, ensuring top and sides are completely covered. (Not going to lie, my sides weren’t completely covered, but that’s ok!)

Refreeze until ready to serve. (The Pastry Chef says to cover with plastic wrap when refreezing, but the plastic completely ruined the set of the glaze. If you have a covered cake plate, and room in your freezer, I’d recommend using the covered cake plate, and then wrapping that in plastic wrap, to protect the surface of the cake.)

Garnish with fresh berries just before serving.

Bake Along: Rum Cake

This week, I teamed with Eva over at Eva Bakes to try out another recipe in the drool-worthy, although sometimes daunting, Bouchon Bakery cookbook. I was pretty excited when Eva suggested we make rum cake. It’s something I only make once a year, and although I enjoy it, the recipe I use isn’t exactly baking from scratch.

Besides trying out a new recipe, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to bake along with Eva. While I don’t talk about it much, one of the things I enjoy most about blogging is getting to meet and get to know others who share my passions. Over the past few years, I’ve gotten to know Eva, my Mixed crew, and a fabulous group of bloggers from around the country (and a few even farther!). We don’t just exchange recipes, restaurant recommendations, and favorite books, but we share our families, our careers, our lives. Baking with Eva has been an awesome way not just to compare notes on a new recipe but also to continue to get to know one another.

Rum Cake

And now I remember why I rarely bake anything in bundt cake pans. 🙁

Despite the appearance, the cake actually turned out pretty well. I made the cake and the rum-infused simple syrup (don’t skip it – that’s where much of the flavor comes from). Since my broken cake was going to be turned into a trifle, I skipped the rum icing (listed below) and exchanged it for a rum whipped cream (recipe at the bottom of this post). Overall, the flavor was pretty good, but the almond meal gave the cake a nuttier flavor and a bit grainier texture (perhaps I should have kept it in the food processor longer). While the cake was good, I think I’m still partial to the recipe used in my rum cake cupcakes. I’ll continue to search for the perfect from-scratch rum cake recipe but you should head on over to Eva Bakes to check out Eva’s blog and see what she thought about this Rum Cake recipe.

Thanks for baking with me, Eva!

Rum Cake

Rum Cake

Adapted from The Bouchon Bakery (p. 106)

*** Ingredient estimates in parenthesis are provided to ensure that you have enough of the ingredients. Please don’t use them when making the cake – weigh out each ingredient with a kitchen scale!!! ***


  • 15-cup “original bundt” cake pan
  • 7-quart stand mixer (a 4.5 quart might work, but it will be tight!)

Ingredients for the Cake:

  • 468 g. unsalted butter, at room temperature; plus more for pan (about 4 1/2 sticks total)
  • 562 g. granulated sugar; plus more for pan (under 3 c.)
  • 468 g. almond meal, pulsed 10 times in a food processor to break up clumps (4+ cups)
  • 150 g. all-purpose flour (1+ cup)
  • 562 g. eggs (about 11 large eggs)
  • 75 g. dark rum* (1/3 c.)

Ingredients for the Rum-Infused Simple Syrup: 

  • 100 g. granulated sugar (1/2 c.)
  • 117 g. water (1/2 c.)
  • 50 g. dark rum* (3 Tbs.)

Ingredients for the Rum Icing:

  • 180 g. confectioners’ sugar (1 1/2+ c.)
  • 15 g. dark rum* (1 Tbs.)
  • 15 g. water (1 Tbs.)

The Bouchon Bakery recommends using Meyer’s dark rum. I used Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum.

Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350F (325F for a convection oven). Melt 1-2 Tbs. of butter. Brush bundt cake pan with butter, being sure to get into all of the crevices. Refrigerate the pan to harden butter. Remove from fridge and sprinkle evenly with a few tablespoons of granulated sugar. Rotate pan until evenly coated on the sides and bottom. Tap out extra sugar and set pan aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter. Add sugar and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 7 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Reduce speed to low and add eggs, one third at a time. Mix for only 15 seconds after each addition. The mixture will look broken, but you don’t want to overmix (which would cause the cake will expand too much). Scrape down sides of the bowl again.

Whisk together almond meal and all-purpose flour in a small bowl. With the mixer on low, add almond meal  mixture, one third at a time. Mix for only 15 seconds after each addition. Scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl and stir any remaining dry ingredients in.

Place 1 cup of batter in a small bowl. Add rum and stir until combined. Return to bowl and fold into batter.

Pour into prepared bundt cake pan. A half inch should be left at the top after filling the pan with batter. Bake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean – 55-60 minutes for a convection oven and 65-70 minutes for a standard oven.

While the cake is baking, make the simple syrup: Combine water and sugar in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Turn off heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in rum and refrigerate until using.

When a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven and set on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Place another cooling rack on top and invert cake onto cooling rack, removing the cake pan.

Allow to sit for another 10 minutes. Brush cake with simple syrup. Allow to soak in for a few minutes before reapplying syrup. Continue until syrup is gone and cake is evenly coated. Allow to cool completely.

And in case your cake doesn’t turn nicely out into the pan like mine….

Turn it into a….

Rum Cake Trifle


rum cake (soaked in simple syrup) + rum whipped cream

Ingredients for the Rum Whipped Cream: 

  • 1 quart heavy whipping cream
  • 4 heaping tablespoons (the kind you use for dinner, not the measuring scoop) granulated sugar
  • 2-3 Tbs. dark rum

Make the Rum Whipped Cream: Place whipping cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until soft peaks form. Without turning off the mixer, sprinkle in sugar. Continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Add rum and whisk until just incorporated. Refrigerate until using.

Make the trifle just before serving. Cube rum cake and layer with whipped cream.

Enjoy. 🙂

Crumb Cake

This is my third week participating in the Twelve Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Meal Planning Magic. This week, I bring to you a sweet for those mornings when family stays over or an afternoon coffee with friends.

This crumb cake comes together easily and quickly.  The cake is light and airy and the crumb topping is more than generous. It tastes as good as bakery crumb cake, if not better.

New York-Style Crumb Cake

Adapted from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2008/Cooks Illustrated

Servers 8-10

Makes an 8×8 in. pan

Ingredients for Crumb Topping:

  • 8 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and still warm
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 c. cake flour

Ingredients for Cake:

  • cooking spray/vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 c. cake flour
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool
  • 1/3 c. buttermilk or plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Make the Crumb Topping: Whisk together melted butter, sugars, cinnamon, and salt. When combined, add cake flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until mixture is thick and cohesive. Set aside and allow to come to room temperature while you prepare the cake.

Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 325F. Line an 8×8 inch pan with aluminum foil, with an inch or two overhanging edges of pan. Spray with vegetable oil/cooking spray and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk (or beat on “stir”) flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. With a mixer on medium-low speed, add butter, one piece at a time, until mixture is crumbly and butter is pea-sized. Increase speed to medium-high and add buttermilk, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. The batter will be thick and very sticky.

Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Use an offset spatula to even it out, making sure the batter reaches all four corners and edges of the pan. Using your fingers to crumble the cinnamon-sugar-flour mixture into pea-sized pieces evenly over cake batter.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until cake is browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 30 minutes in pan before using aluminum foil to remove cake from pan, move to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Storage: May be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days.