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Cakes do not need frosting and fancy decorations to be pretty and presentable.  Clementine Upside Down Cake is very citrus-y, very easy to make, very rustic, and very gorgeous!  A great dessert option for a dinner party!

A while ago, we purchased a kitchen card/island for our home.  The reasoning was two-fold.  First, we could certainly use more counter space and some shelving.  And, secondly, I really needed a great looking surface and work area for setting up my prepared recipes for photographing.

Our apartment has some large windows, which provides some really good natural light for food photography, and one of those windows happens to be in the kitchen.  Now, our kitchen is very small, but one entire wall, from the top of the kitchen counter, to the ceiling, is window.  It’s really a food bloggers dream, but the counter on that side of the kitchen is small.  There is literally zero room to set up a photo shoot.  And, getting my tripod to fit in the kitchen with the legs expanded far enough to take photos is impossible.

The purchasing of a kitchen cart seemed like a great solution.  We decided to place the cart in the dining room, along the north-facing wall, so that the natural light from the large east-facing wall would provide great light for the photos.  And, the kitchen cart is now on wheels (which we installed ourselves) to make it easier to move about.  So far, we are loving it!  I can easy place pots, pans, plates, bowls, etc., on it and take a few photos for my recipe posts.  And, when I’m not doing that, it serves as counter space that can be used for food prep, or just a place to place baked goods.

The only problem we’ve found so far, is the cats.  Well, more specifically, one cat – Jake.  His is obsessed with being perched high on shelves, cabinets, armoires, etc. – wherever he can manage to jump!  The kitchen cart has become his newest playground, as you can see from this photo.

I took a picture of Jake laying on the kitchen cart one Saturday morning and posted it to a food bloggers Facebook group that I am a member of, with a caption asking for ideas of how to keep Jake off the counter top.  Most of the responses suggested citrus.  Apparently, every cat in the world hates the smell of citrus except Jake, because it didn’t work.  We had a very large bowl, consisting of about a dozen each of clementines, lemons, and limes.  That’s how this recipe came about.  I needed to use them up before they began to spoil.

Clementine Upside Down Cake was a great way to use up the clementines, because not only is the cake have a layer of sliced clementines right on the top, it also has a lot of of the zest from the clementines, as well as the clementine juice.

You shouldn’t be afraid to make this cake, although, based on the photos, it might look rather daunting.  Trust me, Dear Reader, those beautifully, glistening slices of fresh clementines that you see on the top of that cake is so easy to achieve.  All you need to do is layer the clementine slices in a pretty pattern onto a layer of butter and brown sugar.  It really is that easy!  You pour the cake batter on top of that and voila!

As you can see, I left the peel on the clementines.  Before I sliced them, I washed the fruit really well and dried them with paper towels.  The peel is completely edible, because it has been washed, it’s very thin, and it’s baked and glazed in a butter and brown sugar mixture, which basically caramelizes and candies the peel.  If you can imagine the texture of a homemade orange and lemon marmalade jam, then you can get a sense of what the texture of the clementine slices will feel like on the palate.

If you prefer, you can peel the clementines first, and then slice them before you layer them into the cake.  You’ll get the same results, taste-wise, but the top of the cake will look a little different.  I have not tried it myself with peeled fruit, but the taste will be the same, which is the desired result.

Clementine Upside Down Cake is a very moist cake.  And it also has a very orange-y flavour.  Because the citrus greatly counteracts the sugar in the cake, the cake is a great dessert option after a heavy meal.  It’s refreshing and light and a great way to cleanse the palate.  A simple dusting of confectioner’s sugar is all you need to make this cake look just as exquisite as it tastes!

If you still have room for more indulgence, I would suggest a dollop of whipped cream, clotted cream, or really good vanilla ice cream.  The ice cream would be especially great if the cake is still warm from the oven.  I was going to photograph this cake with ice cream, but ice cream is so hard to work with.  I can never make it stay where I want it for the photo, or prevent it from melting too quickly.  #foodbloggerproblems

Personally, my favourite way to enjoy this delicious Clementine Upside Down Cake is just the way you see it in the photographs – a very larges slice, with some confectioner’s sugar, and a very hot cup of coffee.  That’s the ultimate in rustic dessert comfort.  Enjoy!

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3.96 from 23 votes

Clementine Upside Down Cake

Cakes do not need frosting and fancy decorations to be pretty and presentable.  Clementine Upside Down Cake is very citrus-y, very easy to make, very rustic, and very gorgeous!  A great dessert option for a dinner party!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 12 slices
Calories 347kcal
Author Lord Byron's Kitchen


  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (not hot)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 8 whole clementines
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons zest from clementines, see notes
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup juice from clementines, see notes
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream, low fat
  • 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar, for garnish (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 10 inch cake pan very well with non-stick cooking spray.  
  • Pour the melted butter in the cake pan, ensuring the butter covers the entire bottom of the pan.  Then, evenly sprinkle over the brown sugar.
  • Lay the sliced clementines on top of the brown sugar in a circular fashion.  Try not to over lap the slices.  Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, using a hand-held mixer, lightly beat the eggs, then add the sugar, clementine zest and juice, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and sour cream.  Beat together until well mixed.
  • Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Beat until the mixture until just incorporated.  Do not over mix!
  • Pour the batter over top the sliced clementines and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire cooling rack.  Do not attempt to remove the cake just yet!!!  Placing the cake still in the pan on a wire cooling rack allows for air to circulate under the pan and help to cool the caramelized brown sugar and butter mixture.  This will ensure the cake comes out easily.
  • Lay a cake stand on top of the cake.  Flip the cake pan over, while holding the cake stand firmly against the top of the cake.  Slowly remove the cake pan and allow the cake to fully cool before dusting with confectioner's sugar.
  • Serve at room temperature, or slightly warm from the oven.


Clementines vary in size, so you may need more or less.  Before you get started, wash all of the clementines in cold water, dry well and set aside.
Zest four of the clementines first, and then juice the same four.  The remaining four should be sliced about 1/4 inch thick for layering in step 3.


Calories: 347kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 210mg | Potassium: 124mg | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 320IU | Vitamin C: 4.5mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 1.2mg

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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. This looks so good!! My favorite Christmas flavors are orange with cranberry!! This would nice between the Clementine circles! I can’t wait to try it and several other Christmas cakes!! Hank you so much for your hard work!!
  2. Thank you for this lovely recipe! It was fantastic! Other than substituting greek yogurt for the sour cream, I made it as written and could not be happier with sight, smell, or taste!
  3. This was so good! The perfect combination of citrus and sweet. I made cupcakes instead to allow for easier sharing through social distancing drop-offs :) The same cake recipe makes 24 cupcakes -- I put a teaspoon of melted butter + 1/2 tbsp of brown sugar in each cupcake well. Make sure you thinly slice the clementines so that there is enough room in the cupcake wells for the batter. My cupcakes baked at 350 for 12 minutes. In hindsight I might bake longer and lower to allow for more caramelization and less rise in the cupcake. Thanks for the original recipe!
  4. The 10 inch pan I had was apparently not deep enough, because the batter came to the very top of my pan and it spilled over the sides as it rose in the oven. I did put it on top of a larger pan in anticipation to catch the overflow. Even with the mishap, the cake was delicious, and the crunchy overflow bits were a little treat to snack on while the cake was cooling ;) The only thing I did differently was sub greek yogurt for the sour cream and add a little bit of cardamom to the dry ingredients. Next time I'll use my deeper springform pan.

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