Orange-Thyme Upside-Down Cake

Who says herbs are just for savory dishes?

September 21, 2015
citrus thyme cake year of cozy
Adrianna Adarme

Hello, you showstopper, you! The intention of this cake is to brighten up a dreary day. The best accompaniments to this cake are a cup of warm tea and an all-consuming book; think something by Gillian Flynn or Tana French.

Makes one 12-inch cake.


Cake Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole milk

Citrus Topping Ingredients:

1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 sprigs thyme, stems removed and discarded
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
4 blood oranges, peeled and cut into slices
2 Cara Cara or navel oranges, peeled and cut into slices
Whipped cream

More: What Makes Life More Cozy?


1. To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

2. Next, in the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until thoroughly incorporated.

3. Stir half the flour mixture and all of the milk into the butter and sugar mixture. Then stir in the remaining flour mixture, being sure not to overmix. At this point, the batter will probably look like it's curdled. Not to worry. This is not a smooth batter, but it will come together splendidly in the oven.

4. To make the topping: In a seasoned 10" cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Mix in the thyme, brown sugar, and salt and stir until the sugar begins to bubble, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and let stand for a few minutes to cool slightly.

5. Arrange the orange slices, overlapping a few of them, on top of the brown sugar mixture. Pour the cake batter over the citrus slices, and spread the batter gently so it's nice and even. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a wooden pick comes out clean.


6. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes. To invert the cake, run a knife along the outside edge of the cake, place a plate on top of the cast-iron skillet, and turn both of them over--be careful, they'll be heavy! Lift up the skillet and voila! Your cake! Serve this cake slightly warm with a dollop of soft whipped cream.

Adapted from The Year of Cozy