What? Orange cardamom upside down cake? What gives?
OK, I know that today is the day for turkeys and cranberries and mincemeat pie, but at our house Thanksgiving is this coming Saturday. That’s because here in Belgium nothing is closed today, and everybody has to work. So we’re celebrating on Saturday, when I’ll cook the only whole turkey in Belgium this week, if you don’t count those that are still walking around. More about that later...
I saw this cake at The Pastry Studio, and knew I had to try it. Anything that uses cardamom and oranges is OK with me. And if you can add some pink peppercorns, that’s even better. No peppercorns in this one, though, but it’s still pretty amazing.
I had a little kitchen detour on the way to making this cake. As I was trying to describe upside down cake to my friend Françoise, she said, “oh, a Tarte Tatin”. Hmmmmmm, I wondered, could I make an orange and cardamom Tarte Tatin? Was that even possible? Gentle reader, I tried it: I caramelized the sugar with orange juice and some cardamom, I artfully arranged the orange slices, I lovingly placed the crust on top and I baked it until it was golden brown on the top/bottom. I inverted it on a plate, and I am here to tell you that orange Tarte Tatin is just a bad idea. It tasted wonderful, but there is one very big problem: oranges are all about juice. Tarte Tatin is not a really juicy dish. That’s all I’m going to say about it.
It was so ugly that Dan and I laughed as we ate it, but I LOVED flavors. So I decided to go back to my original idea (actually, The Pastry Studio’s original idea) and try the cake. Of course, I had to change it a little bit. But not too much, actually. It was pretty intriguing as it was.
To make this you’ll need a heavy pan about 25 cm / 10 inches in diameter. It needs to be one that you can use on the stovetop and then put in the oven. A cast iron skillet will work very well. I used an enameled cast iron pan made for (what else?) Tarte Tatin.
One more thing--don’t bake this if you don’t want your neighbors to stop by. Our apartrment smelled heavenly for a couple of days after I made this. Don’t say I didn’t warn you...
For the topping:
50 g / 3 Tablespoons butter
150 g / 3/4 C brown sugar
4 medium-sized navel oranges
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
For the cake batter:
200 g / 1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
85 g / 6 Tablespoons butter at room temperature
125 g / 2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
- Preheat oven to 175 C / 350 F
- Peel the oranges by slicing the peel and the white pith off with a sharp knife. Slice them into thin slices.
- Melt the butter in a heavy oven-proof pan and stir in the brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom. Remove from the heat and press the mixture evenly into the pan. Allow to cool.
- Arrange the orange slices over the topping in the cake pan. You’ll probably have enough to make two layers. Good.
- Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, and the rest of the cardamom in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, vanilla and orange zest.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time.
- Stir in half of the dry ingredients until nearly combined, then add the milk and mix. Add the remaining dry ingredients and stir just until combined -- don’t overmix. Try not to breathe as you do this, or you’ll just sit down on the floor and eat the batter. It smells THAT good. Really.
- Spread the batter carefully over the oranges and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool the cake at least 15-20 minutes, then place a serving platter over the cake pan, hold your breath, and turn them both over. With any luck, you’ll hear a very satisfying ‘plop’. Remove the cake pan and VOILA!
- I don’t have vanilla extract, so I used vanilla sugar and I mixed it with the other sugar.
- I had to bake mine 43 minutes. It could have used a minute or two more.
- I served this with some vanilla gelato. It was heaven.
- Pastry Studio suggested that this might be good with blood oranges. I think that’s a wonderful idea.