Orange upside-down gingerbread

Oranges and gingerbread: a sweet consolation for a long winter’s day. Oranges have been on sale lately, so we’ve been eating a lot of them. I think Little Three has eaten at least half a dozen mandarin oranges in the past 24 hours! I keep hoping the infusion of citrus will beat down the colds we’ve all been battling.

Last weekend, I spent a few more minutes browsing through the tower of cookbooks I brought home from the library, searching for a dessert that wouldn’t require an extra trip to the store. And in David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert, in a note at the bottom of another recipe, I found this variation for gingerbread made with oranges and cardamom.

Despite some issues with the batter overflowing the pan, this cake is spectacular. Both fancy and homey, with its beautiful rings of orange nestled in a gooey brown sugar topping, it is supported by a lovely moist gingerbread that might be worth baking all on its own. The cardamom and orange together set this cake apart from other gingerbreads.

(I was all set to take a shortcut and use already ground cardamom, but we didn’t have any! We did have cardamom pods, so I ground a few up in the coffee grinder, sifting out the large bits.)
Orange Upside-Down Gingerbread
from David Lebovitz
4 T. butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. freshly ground cardamom
4 navel oranges, peeled and sliced horizontally into      1/2″ slices
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 large eggs
1/4 cup half-and-half or whole milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
For the topping, put 4 T. butter in a 9-inch round cake pan or cast iron skillet. Make sure it is at least 2 inches deep. (My regular 1 1/2″ pan was too shallow, and the pan overflowed during baking. Next time I’ll use a 9″ springform pan–it’s quite a bit deeper.) Set the pan on the stovetop over low heat until the butter melts. Add the brown sugar and cardamom and stir well. Remove from heat. Arrange the orange slices over the brown sugar mixture, putting the prettiest sides down.
For the cake, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt. In the mixer, beat together 1/2 cup butter and the sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the molasses. Add the eggs one at time, beating after each. Slowly mix in half the flour mixture. Stir in the half-and-half, and then the rest of the flour mixture until just combined. Incorporate any flour stuck to the sides of the bowl with a few turns by hand with a rubber spatula.
Spread the batter on top of the fruit layer in the pan. Bake until a skewer in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool about 15 minutes, then loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a thin spatula or knife. Invert a serving plate over the pan and flip the cake over. Carefully lift off the pan.
Serve warm with sweetened whipped cream.


2 responses

  1. This looks delish. What do you think about baking this in individual servings? Would it even work with this kind of preparation? And would you use small ramekins to do that, or would a muffin tin suffice?

  2. Jen–the only person I know baking cake in the wee hours of the morning! I don't really know which would work better, but maybe we'd better test it out one of these days, just for the sake of research? Ramekins have the advantage of depth, but I could see muffin tins working, too. To unmold them, just go around all the sides with a small knife, and then put a cookie sheet over the tin and flip them all out at once.

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