An Upside Down Cake and My Upside Down World

by Melissa on January 29, 2013

blood orange upside down polenta cake

It appears as though the impossible has happened:

I have become a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom), sort of. And I am okay with that, sort of.

I was always one to put career first, with no children as far as the eye could see. Even though it was in my “life plan” to have a baby before turning 30 (which just so happens to be later this year).

Then Mini-Me came into our lives 3 months ago and flipped my world upside down.

As if learning to be a combination of diaper changing ninja, milk cow and sleep deprived zombie wasn’t enough… the most difficult part turned out to be the temporary loss of identity during those first few months of motherhood.

Now that things are starting to stabilize, I am finding myself. Food blogging is inspiring again and I am getting my groove back with client projects. So I am working. Not quite like I did before, but working nonetheless.

blood oranges in cast iron skillet

Maybe being a SAHM isn’t all that bad. After all, the afternoon naptimes cuddle fests are pretty darn awesome. And on (most) days, I wouldn’t trade being able to spend the entire day with my Mini-Me with anything in the world.

In celebration of my world being turned upside down, here is an upside down cake to commemorate what once was and to celebrate what is to come.

blood orange upside down cake slice

Blood Orange Upside Down Polenta Cake
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

7 tbsp sugar, divided, plus 3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp water
8 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
3 unpeeled small to medium blood oranges
3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3 tbsp polenta or coarse yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp coarse kosher salt
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
6 tbsp whole milk

Let’s Bake!
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine 6 tablespoons sugar and 3 tablespoons water in 10″ diameter ovenproof skillet  and 2 1/2″-high sides, I used my trusty cast iron skillet. Stir the water and sugar mixture over medium heat until sugar dissolves, I added a bit more water to help coat the bottom of the skillet. Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup is golden amber, about 4 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and whisk 2 tablespoons butter into caramel. Set aside.

Cut off both rounded ends of each orange. Cut oranges into 1/16″ to 1/8″ thick rounds. Remove and discard any seeds. Arrange orange slices, overlapping slightly, in concentric circles on top of the caramel in the skillet.

Combine the flour, polenta, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl with a whisk.

Using an electric mixer or stand mixer, beat 3/4 cup sugar, remaining 6 tablespoons room-temperature butter, and vanilla in another mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternating with milk in 2 additions, beating batter until incorporated.

Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in large bowl until soft peaks form. Add remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and beat until stiff. Fold egg whites into batter to lighten, then in 3 additions. Drop batter by large spoonfuls atop orange slices in skillet, then spread evenly (don’t pour the batter because it may cause the orange slices to move around).

Place the skillet in the oven and bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 – 45 minutes. Cool cake in skillet 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen. Then invert the cake onto a platter to remove from the skillet. Cool cake completely at room temperature.

Serve and enjoy!

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

January 29, 2013 at 9:50 am

Welcome back, Melissa! I’ve missed your entries. But, it is completely understandable that you would get lost in the wonderful blessing of Mini Me. This upside down cake looks so yummy! And I love the image of the blood oranges in the skillet. Well done still life photos get me every time!


January 29, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Thanks Kimberly! It’s been tough finding the time and inspiration to cook and blog again, but getting back into it sure does feel great!


Heidi @ Food Doodles
January 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Aww, this post is so sweet! Kids really do have a way of turning everything upside down. Except before having kids I thought it would be the worst thing ever, but now that I have them I’m willingly turning my own life upside down for them. Crazy, isn’t it?
Gorgeous cake Melissa! I’m glad to see your beautiful pictures again :D


January 30, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Thanks Heidi :) and I thought my life was crazy before kids, HA!… I feel so silly now! And I wouldn’t change it for the world <3


February 4, 2013 at 4:35 pm

sort of… sort of??? :P


February 4, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Yeahhh… sort of :)


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