Head Over Heels For Upside-Down Clementine Cake

Sliced clementines decorate the top of this upside-down cake so very prettily.
Sliced clementines decorate the top of this upside-down cake so very prettily.

No matter if winter has brought torrential rain, hail, sleet or snow to your doorstep, this simple little golden cake is pure sunshine sure to brighten any day or mood.

“Upside-Down Clementine Cake” is the quintessential one-pan cake — with the bonus of cheery, bright slices of clementines dotting it.

The recipe is from “Petite Patisserie: 180 Easy Recipes for Elegant French Treats” (Rizzoli). Inspired by the treats at neighborhood patisseries, this sweetly designed book is by Christophe Felder, who for 15 years was the pastry chef at the Michelin-starred Hôtel de Crillon in Paris before opening his eponymous pastry school in Alsace; and Camille Lesecq, a former pastry chef of Le Meurice in Paris. Together, the two also operate the patisserie, Les Pâtissiers, in Mutzig, Alsace.

The book starts out with a series of foundational recipes that others build upon. The rest of the book is divided into chapters not by specific dessert categories, as you might imagine, but by the days of the week. Only in the world of Felder and Lesecq, the week has not seven days but eight, with the addition of “Funday” — a concept that I can completely get behind.

The work week might start off with “Giant Muesli Cookies.” Though, tackling a “Double Chocolate Roulade” might be more than most of us want to tackle on a Monday. Friday brings delights such as “Chocolate Mousse in Coconut Shells” and “Apricot-Praline Brownies.” And Funday is definitely that with more challenging but whimsical creations such as “Teddy Bear Cake” and “Funny Bunny Cake.”

“Upside-Down Clementine Cake” may reside in the Saturday chapter, but it’s fairly effortless to make any day if you have an hour to spare.

Preparing the bottom of the cake pan.
Preparing the bottom of the cake pan.

Not only do sliced clementines get arrayed all over the bottom of the pan, but clementine juice and zest get stirred into the batter that gets spread all over them.

The recipe neglected to state when to add the flour and baking powder in the batter, so I added that info in the directions below. The recipes also are made for convection ovens, so I converted the temperature below to work for a non-convection oven, which is what I have.

Enjoy a slice with tea or coffee.
Enjoy a slice with tea or coffee.

Once the cake is baked and cooled for about 20 minutes or so, invert it onto a serving plate so that the pretty clementine slices are visible on top. Shower over a little powdered sugar, and enjoy.

The cake is moist, light and fluffy with a gentle, sweet citrus taste. It’s not over-the-top rich or achingly decadent in any way. Instead, it’s a cake that’s just right for any reason at all.

You don't need any excuse to enjoy this winsome cake.
You don’t need any excuse to enjoy this winsome cake.

Upside-Down Clementine Cake

(Serves 8)

1 stick plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for brushing

1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling

1 1/2 tablespoons honey, preferably lavender

2 eggs, room temperature

5 clementines

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees convection or 375 degrees non-convection. Brush an 8-inch round cake pan with butter and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

In a large bowl, cream the butter with the granulated sugar and honey. Beat in eggs, one at a time.

Using a fine grater, zest the clementines. Stir the zest into the batter. Squeeze 2 of the clementines and stir the juice into the batter.

In a small bowl, mix flour with baking powder. Add flour mixture to the butter-egg mixture, mixing just until combined.

Peel the remaining 3 clementines and cut crosswise into slices just under 1/2 inch thick. Arrange the clementine slices in the pan and pour in the batter.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cake cool in the pan on a rack to room temperature, about 20 to 25 minutes, then turn out and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Adapted from “Petite Patisserie” by Christophe Felder and Camille Lesecq

Another Clementine Recipe to Enjoy: Honey-Preserved Clementines

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