Cast Iron Orange Olive Oil Upside Down Cake may be a bit of a tongue twister. But you’ll forgive that once you take a taste. Moist and fragrant with oranges, it has a hint of spice and a bread pudding-like consistency.
The recipe is from my friend Laura Bashar‘s new cookbook, The Camp & Cabin Cookbook. (Note – I received a copy of the cookbook from the publisher. However, all views expressed are my own and I did not promise anything in return for the book.)
Before we get to the recipe, a bit about me and how I came to enjoy this fabulous book.
If you know me at all (in real life), then you know I don’t camp. In fact, I haven’t slept in a tent in decades. The last time I did, it was by accident, decades ago. Invited to a family weekend at a summer camp my daughter would attend later that summer, I thought we’d be in a cabin. Instead, we slept in a tent. I was not happy. I tried not to dwell on my disappointment as I wanted my daughter to enjoy her camping experience. But you’ve never met a happier human than me after getting back to my house. And cabin living? My idea of a cabin is one that has a full kitchen, a nice bathroom with hot and cold running water, and certainly a cozy bed. Also, I prefer my cabin with comfortable chairs and a sofa with good lighting for reading and such.
You get the picture. I’m not one for camping or most people’s idea of cabins. But I do love cooking on a grill. Whether it’s my beloved’s incredible salmon on the Weber kettle, burgers, or grilled vegetable shish kebabs, I’m a huge fan of outdoor cooking. I’ll even grill fruit or vegetables I normally wouldn’t cook at all. Plus, I’m always up for an adventure, especially if it involves cooking. So, I took the plunge into The Camp & Cabin Cookbook.
While the title suggests (at least to me) a “roughing it” vacation, in fact the book is a great resource for cooking at home — on your barbecue or in your kitchen. It’s lovely to peruse, with beautiful photographs and an easy-to-read layout. The hints about cooking over a fire are helpful for novices like me. Although I’m not likely to use hardwood coal or firewood, I appreciate how Laura B. provides guidance on using various fuels. She even give instructions on how to place briquettes on top of a Dutch Oven so the charcoal heat surrounds it, as oven heat would.
Many of the recipes tempt me, not just the one I made. I have my eye on Dutch Oven Heirloom Tomato Galette and Foil-Wrapped Fisherman’s Platter. The Persian Chicken and Vegetable Kabob also looks like a winner and I might just try Heart Attack Potatoes. (Maybe I’ll do that last one under a different name.) In the end, my fondness for oranges won out, especially when combined with my passion for baking. Because the olive oil seemed more prominent than the spices, I slightly revised the name of the recipe, but that’s just a quibble, not a criticism.
I’ll admit that I didn’t have quite the right equipment for the barbecue version of Cast Iron Orange Olive Oil Upside Down Cake. (My cast iron Dutch Oven didn’t have little legs to keep it above the coals or a flat top to easily accommodate briquettes on top.) However, with my beloved’s ingenuity and a bit of reassurance from Laura B, we jerry-rigged (or Macgyvered) a solution that worked fine.
I made the Cast Iron Orange Olive Oil Upside Down Cake two ways: on the grill and in the oven. Like many recipes in the book, this one has a box at the end titled “Home Kitchen Method.” In that box, Laura B. provides instructions for making the recipe in the oven. The two versions turned out about the same. While it was more difficult to get the Dutch Oven version out (because the Dutch oven has higher sides than a pan), the taste of the two cakes was identical. Furthermore, both looked nice once I plated them.
I made minor modifications in the ingredient listing and directions from the Orange and Spice Upside Down Cake in The Camp & Cabin Cookbook. However, the ingredients are the same.
Cast Iron Orange Olive Oil Upside Down Cake
A moist, orangey cake made on the barbecue, in a fire, or in the oven.
- 3 Valencia oranges, divided. Thinly slice 2 of the oranges. With the third, grate 2 tablespoons zest and squeeze 1/4 cup juice.
- 1 & 1/2 cups flour
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
In a barbecue chimney light up 24 briquettes. For oven, pre-heat to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt.
In a larger bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, yogurt, orange juice, orange zest, extra virgin olive oil and eggs until combined.
Place a 10-inch cast iron Dutch oven over all the coals and melt the butter. When bubbling, stir in the brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until dissolved. (Use a 10-inch cast iron pan with 2-inch sides if following directions for an oven-baked cake. You can melt the butter on the stove or in the oven.)
Spread the sugar evenly over the bottom of the pot (or pan) arrange the orange slices over the butter-sugar mixture in whatever pattern you desire, and remove the pot from the heat.
In batches, mix the flour mixture into the yogurt mixture and stir until combined. Spoon the batter evenly over the orange slices.
Cover the pot - or pan in the oven. If cooking on a barbecue/campfire, place 9 coals underneath and 15 coals on top. Bake the cake for 30 minutes or more, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool, uncovered for 10 minutes in the pot - or pan.
Run a knife blade along the sides of the cake to ensure a clean removal.
Place a serving plate over the Dutch oven (or pan) and carefully invert the cake.
Remove the Dutch oven (or pan) and allow the cake to cool to room temperature, about 30 more minutes, before serving.
I didn't find the spices very pronounced in this recipe. If you like the flavor and aroma of nutmeg, cinnamon, and/or cardamom, you might want to up the quantities slightly.
If you use Valencia oranges, you don't need to peel them before slicing. The peel becomes almost marmalade-like after cooking in the butter and sugar. You can substitute navel oranges for Valencia. But if you do, because navel oranges have thicker skin, peel them first before putting the slices in the pot/pan.