Citrus Polenta Upside-Down Cake

Citrus Polenta Upside-Down Cake | Flavors Of Light

Before citrus season ends I thought I’d try a citrus upside-down cake recipe, one that wasn’t too rich or sweet. I found this cake from pastry chef Hannah Buoye to be perfect. Fine corn meal is used and gives the cake a lovely flavor and crumb.  I used a variety of citrus from navel oranges and tangerines, to small mandarins. Arranging the citrus slices on top of a butter-brown sugar mix, composing a colorful and mildly sweet yet tangy caramelized “marmalade “top.

Citrus Polenta Upside-Down Cake | Flavors Of Light


Citrus Polenta Upside-Down Cake | Flavors Of Light


Citrus Polenta Upside-Down Cake | Flavors Of Light

I’ll be baking this cake again, it’s fun to make, beautiful to look at and great to have with an afternoon coffee or tea.  Even after all that, this cake seems to only get better with time, especially when toasted up for breakfast, which you can see here on Instagram.  Well, I might even like it best for breakfast—warm, toasted and crumbly.  x

Recipe follows

Citrus Polenta Upside-Down Cake
Recipe by pastry chef Hannah Buoye at A16 Rockridge in Oakland, Ca. from Sunset, adapted slightly.

Cooking-oil spray
3/4 cup butter, softened, divided
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
4 to 6 whole citrus– depending on their size, you’ll need enough slices to cover the bottom of the pan and some extra, plus zest of 3 of the citrus fruits
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup flour
3/4 cup fine cornmeal (I used Goya brand, there’s also Bob’s Red Mill)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray inside of a 9-in. springform pan with cooking-oil spray. Line pan with a 12-in. circle of parchment paper, pressing pleats flat up the sides of the pan  Spray parchment with oil and set aside.

2. Bring 1/4 cup butter and the brown sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly as it bubbles. Pour  the mixture into the lined pan and spread out evenly.

3. Cut off the outer rind and pith of citrus, thinly slice citrus crosswise removing any seeds you find.  Arrange the  citrus slices on top of the butter mixture in pan fitting them snugly together or overlapping the citrus slices to fill pan.

4. Beat remaining 1/2 cup butter, granulated sugar, and the citrus zest in a large bowl using a mixer on medium speed to blend, then beat on high until pale and fluffy about 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 egg at a time beating well to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl, about 1 minute for each egg added. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Combine milk and vanilla together.

5. Add a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, blending on low speed and scraping the bowl as you go. Blend in half of the milk mixture. Alternate to incorporate remaining dry ingredients and liquids, ending with the flour mixture. Pour the batter into your prepared lined pan and spread out evenly with an offset spatula.

6. Bake until cake springs back in center when lightly pressed,  about 50 to 55 minutes (it will be well browned). Let cool in the pan on a rack for at least 2 hours. When cool run a knife between parchment and pan and release the rim. Invert the cake onto a flat baking sheet, (see next step) remove parchment.

7. I found there to be quite a bit of excess juice from the citrus I used, and not enough caramelizing. To remedy this, use a wooden skewer to poke holes in the top of the cake where there is excess juice collected (letting the juices run through and flavor the cake) and/or dab off excess juice with a paper towel.  Run the cake on the flat tray under the broiler of your oven, moving the tray constantly, watching carefully (to avoid burning) to caramelize the top.

Transfer the cake onto a serving plate, cut cake with a very sharp knife.  Cake keeps well up to one week in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Citrus Polenta Upside-Down Cake | Flavors Of Light

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