Upside Down Blood Orange Cake

A beautiful afternoon tea or celebration cake that has the decorations baked in, literally! This cake is so beautiful it requires no additions. The natural sweet fragrance of blood oranges infuses this cake with delicious citrus Spring goodness.


Prep Time:

20 minutes

Cook Time:

35 minutes

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Upside Down Blood Orange Cake on a plate

Upside Down Blood Orange Cake

This is my favourite kind of recipe. It’s simple, it’s impressive without really trying, it’s a crowd pleaser, it celebrates seasonal produce, and of course it’s a nourishing treat that won’t leave you feeling heavy or spiked with sugar. 

This is my go-to for an event where I know there will be plenty of different kinds of people there, and perhaps some that aren’t used to “healthy” baked goods – because without fail, even those people love this cake.

A slice of Upside Down Blood Orange Cake on a plate surrounded by flowers

I normally make it with ever present oranges, but as Spring starts here in Australia juicy and vibrant blood oranges spring into the markets and I always enjoy them. It’s like mangoes – they are only available for a short time of year, which makes them all the more special. 

All fruits and vegetables are beautiful in my eyes. But blood oranges… They take the take (excuse the pun). Jewelled flesh with tinges of deep pinks and purples and reds, they are a true representation of nature’s incredible gifts. 

A cloth napkin sits beside a plate of blood oranges cut in half with a knife

What are blood oranges?

This variety of orange came about from a natural mutation (for those of you that don’t know I’m a little bit of a nerd and completed a degree in genetics alongside my nutrition degree). This means somewhere along the line of an oranges “family”, there was a tiny change in its DNA that resulted in this reddish pigment in the flesh. 

They originated in the Mediterranean and, to me, are synonymous with Sicilian food. Maybe this had something to do with my choice of using olive oil in this recipe instead or butter or coconut oil. 

When compared to the regular variety, blood oranges not only look different but taste different too, with a deeper fruity flavour almost as if they are spiked with raspberry, and are generally sweeter and more intense too. 

Upside Down Blood Orange Cake on  plate. The cake is in a heart shape.

Tips for making this gluten free upside down blood orange cake

  • Use a good extra virgin olive oil. It should be in a dark green or amber bottle and taste fruity and pungent. Any good extra virgin variety will work, but if you have, any that has a “light” or “mild” flavour is great for baking, as it doesn’t overpower the cake, yet you still get the light texture and hint of beautiful olive flavour. 
  • Slice your oranges as finely as you can by using a sharp knife.
  • Leave the skin on your oranges. The recipe works if you want to peel them first, but I highly recommend the skin – it’s nothing to be afraid of. And it goes all sweet and soft at the base of the cake, making for an extra citrusy experience. 
  • Make sure to use blanched almond meal or blanched almond flour. This means the almonds have been skinned and leads to a lighter and fluffier cake.

Upside Down Blood Orange Cake

Infused with delicious spring citrus, this is a beautiful afternoon tea or celebration cake to enjoy.



Prep time:

20 minutes

Cook time:

35 minutes

  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup Lakanto Classic or other erythritol based sweetener*
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 blood orange, zested and juice of half 
  • 1½ cups (150g) blanched almond meal
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour 
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ⅛ tsp sea salt
  • 3 blood oranges, skin on, finely sliced 
  • Lakanto Classic or other erythritol based sweetener*
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line a 22cm cake tin with baking paper. 
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sweetener and olive oil. 
  3. Add in the zest of one whole blood orange, and squeeze in the juice of half of it. Stir and set aside. 
  4. In another bowl, combine the almond meal, coconut flour, baking powder and salt.
  5. Add the almond meal mixture to the wet mixture in two batches and fold to combine well. Set aside while you prepare the topping.  
  6. Drizzle one teaspoon of olive oil in the lined tin to grease it slightly. Then sprinkle in the two tablespoons of sweetener. Carefully place the orange slices in, starting in the centre and layering out in a spiral. 
  7. Spoon in the cake batter and spread evenly. Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Check halfway through and cover with foil if it is browning too much. 
  8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. Carefully remove the tin and flip the cake upside down onto your serving plate, peel off the baking paper and enjoy.
  • This recipe works with regular oranges too. 
  • Don’t like Lakanto? You can use ⅓ cup honey or maple syrup instead. Stay away from coconut sugar in this recipe as it’s too overpowering. This recipe will also work with raw sugar (although of course then it won’t be sugar free). 
  • *Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that forms the base of many granular “sugar free sweeteners”. Read more about what erythritol is here, including my product recommendations. The use of erythritol in this recipe is what makes it low-carb and/or keto friendly. If this is not a worry for you, the best substitution is coconut sugar which can be used in the same quantity. Please know that the use of coconut sugar takes away the sugar-free status of this recipe and may alter the colour of the finished product. Read more about sugar and my philosophy here.
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