This upside-down vegan blood orange cake is fluffy, tender and melts in your mouth. It uses only 6 ingredients, can be made gluten-free and is perfect for morning or afternoon tea!
This is honestly the best upside-down cake I've ever had! The addition of blood orange juice (an acidic ingredient) makes the cake utterly moist and soft. And the caramelized blood oranges are simply gorgeous!
What to expect from this vegan orange cake
If you're after a simple, delicious but visually spectacular cake, this is the cake for you! The cake is moist and has a beautiful crumb. It's the perfect vegan dessert for Winter or whenever blood oranges are in season.
I love that this cake is made in just one bowl. The most difficult step is chopping the rind off the blood oranges (and cleaning the red aftermath). But the taste and visual impact of the final cake is totally worth it!
Alternatively, check out my vegan orange cake using a whole orange!
6 ingredients you'll need
Notes about the ingredients
Almond flour / blanched almond meal adds moisture and a hint of almond flavor which complements the blood oranges. If you're allergic to nuts or don't have access to almond flour, I've listed an alternative in the gray recipe box at the bottom of this page.
Cane sugar. I'd always recommend using the full amount of sugar for the best flavor and texture. However, you can slightly reduce the amount. If you would like a healthy blood orange cake, you can use coconut sugar instead, although this will make the cake slightly darker.
Blood oranges, blood orange juice and its zest. The blood oranges are used to top the cake and the juice/zest are used to flavor the cake. The juice/zest gives the cake a beautiful natural pink/orange color! You can also use regular oranges or even mandarins (keep in mind that mandarins have a more subtle taste).
Neutral-flavored oil such as sunflower, avocado or light olive oil. Olive oil will actually complement the flavor of the oranges!
If you're feeling fancy, you can also add a dash of vanilla extract or orange blossom water to this vegan blood orange cake!
A complete list of ingredients, quantities and instructions are in the gray recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Preparing the topping for the cake
Don't be intimidated by slicing the blood oranges. It's easy once you get the hang of it!
I personally found the easiest method for cutting the blood oranges were:
- Slice one end off a orange. Keep the ends for juicing later.
- Place the orange flat side down on the chopping board. This makes the next step SO much easier (no one wants to cut a rolling orange!).
- Following the shape of the orange, cut the rind off the sides. It doesn't need to be perfect! And of course, you can leave some rind on the orange.
- Place the 'naked' orange on it's side and slice carefully. It really helps if you have a sharp knife for this!
Tip: if you accidentally cut too much into an orange, you can use it to patch up gaps in the topping or simply juice that orange for the actual cake ;).
Alternatively, you can cut the whole orange into slices *then* cut the rind off each individual slice. However, this is a little more time-consuming.
Next, grease the bottom of your cake tin and sprinkle some sugar on top. It helps if your cake tin is air-tight and enclosed (like a regular cake tin or spring-form tin).
I used a loose bottom cake pan which worked but some of the juices of the blood oranges leaked through the gaps (no biggie, just a heads up)!
Next, I randomly arranged my blood orange slices on the bottom of the cake pan. You can create a pattern if you'd like but I simply couldn't be bothered! And try to make sure there aren't any big gaps between the orange segments.
Preparing the cake batter
This step is SUPER easy. I'd recommend just using a bowl and spatula or whisk for this step rather than a stand mixer. It's a small cake and we don't want to over mix the batter.
Simply add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix until combined. Add all the wet ingredients (including the orange zest) to the bowl.
Whisk until there are no lumps of dry flour (some general lumps are fine). Just make sure you don't overmix the batter! Pour the cake batter into your cake pan on top of the blood oranges then bake :).
Baking the blood orange cake
We are baking the cake at a slightly lower temperature than normal. This helps create a flatter cake and minimizes any chances of the oranges burning!
Once the cake has finished baking, I'd recommend:
- Cutting the small dome of the cake (if any). We don't want to invert a domed cake because gravity will cause the cake to crack in the middle.
- While the cake is hot and still in the tin, tug on the baking paper a little to help loosen the cake. This prevents the caramelized oranges from sticking to the tin.
- Let the cake sit in the tin for 20 or so minutes. When the cake cools, it'll become sturdier which makes it easier to invert :).
- Invert the cake onto a serving plate. Simply place a plate on top of the cake tin (with the serving side face down). Then turn the cake upside down so it is released on the plate. You should hear a very satisfying 'plop' noise.
- Remove the cake tin and peel away the baking paper!
How to serve this cake
The cake is amazing by itself whether it's warm or at room temperature. It definitely doesn't need any frosting but you can dust it with powdered sugar if you'd like.
I also love serving the vegan blood orange cake with a dollop of thick coconut yogurt, cream or ice cream :).
I hope you enjoy this recipe xo
More vegan citrus cakes
Follow Rainbow Nourishments on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, and subscribe via email to receive all of our latest recipes!
Upside down vegan blood orange cake
- 3-4 blood oranges
- neutral flavored oil, or melted vegan butter as needed
- 2 tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar, or as needed
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose plain flour, (note 1 for gluten free)
- ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar, (note 2)
- ½ cup (50g) almond flour / blanched almond meal, (note 3 for nut free)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup (125g) blood orange juice and zest, from 2-3 medium-sized blood oranges
- ½ cup (125g) dairy-free milk
- ½ cup (125g) neutral flavored oil
- Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). Line the bottom and sides of a 20cm (8 inch) round cake tin with parchment paper.
To prepare the topping
- Slice one end off each blood orange and carefully cut off the rind of each orange. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the peeled oranges. The slices should be about 6 mm (¼ inch) thick. Refer to the video in this post for guidance.
- Grease the base of your cake tin. Sprinkle the sugar on the base, swivelling your cake tin to make sure it is evenly coated.
- Arrange your orange slices on the bottom, trying to make sure there are no large gaps. You can further cut your orange slices to cover any gaps! Set aside.
To make the blood orange cake
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix until there are no lumps. Add all your wet ingredients and mix until combined and there are no lumps of flour.
- Pour the batter into your cake tin.
To bake and serve the cake
- Bake the cake for around 40 minutes or until you can insert a skewer or toothpick into the middle and it comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool in the cake tin for 20 minutes. If there is a dome on the cake, use a serrated knife to cut it off. Invert the cake onto a serving plate and serve! This cake is lovely with a scoop of yoghurt, cream or ice cream.
- The cake can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days. Allow it to come to room temperature before serving
- To make this blood orange cake gluten free, use 1 cup (100g) almond flour/ blanched almond meal and 1 cup (160g) gluten free all-purpose flour.
- This amount of sugar complements a cake which uses slightly bitter blood oranges. The sugar can be reduced to ½ cup (100g) if your oranges are quite sweet, although this will also make the cake more dense. Coconut sugar can also be used instead of cane sugar, though it will change the colour of the cake.
- If you need this cake to be nut free, substitute the almond flour for ¼ cup (30g) all purpose flour and 2 tbsp (30g) oil.
This recipe was originally published in 2018 and updated in 2021 for simplicity.
This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.
Beverley W says
This is my new go-to cake recipe! So light and fluffy! Thank you for sharing!
This was DELICIOUS! I opted for the gluten free option. Will be making this again!
I'm so happy that you loved the gluten-free version Erica! Thanks so much for leaving a comment here :).
What GF flour did you use? I just tried making it gluten free and it turned out so gummy 🙁 I used 160 g of Bob's red mill 1-to-1 gluten free baking flour.
This is one delicious cake! I made the gf version with a mix of blood oranges and oranges on the top. It was consumed far to quickly by (non-gf, non-vegan) guests. My partner was upset at the insufficient volume of leftovers and has asked when I’m making the next one. Thanks for sharing this recipe Anthea.
That is music to my ears! I'm so glad that everyone enjoyed it and that your partner was asking for more :). Thanks so much for your feedback Tracey x
I have made this twice and i am obsessed! I gave some to my grandma and she was in love with it ! 😀
Aw, I'm so glad that you and your grandma loved this cake!!! Thanks so much Grace!
DELICIOUS. Seriously so good. Adding to the recipe book for sure. I served it the next day with a scoop of vegan ice cream and a drizzle of red wine dessert sauce on top. The bitterness of the blood orange contrasted so nicely with the sweet toppings. Absolutely 10/10!
That sounds ammmmazing Fee!! I'm so happy that you enjoyed this recipe :). Thanks for your feedback!! x
Is it possible to substitute blood orange juice for Campari? I’m looking for a vegan Campari cake recipe atm
I think that would work fine! Let me know how you go :).