I’m making the best of orange season with this citrus cake that is made even better with salted caramel sauce. This Orange Salted Caramel Upside Down Cake is a dessert that does not need to be served with any toppings or sides. It’s got it all going on in just once slice. With orange in the cake batter, fresh orange segments and salted caramel sauce on top.

A whole orange salted caramel upside down cake on a square plate with a slice cut out

It’s orange season and there are some amazing ones out there. Have you tried the Sumo orange?  You can use any oranges for this cake, including mandarin and blood orange. I actually turned them into a Blood Orange Galette, which is delicious served with vanilla ice cream.

A slice of cake on a white plate showing the inside

This is not your typical caramel sauce. It’s made a little differently because this does not have cream. When you add cream to caramel sauce, it prevents the sauce hardening and keeps it pourable. For this cake, we don’t want that. We want it to harden in the pan, then as it bakes, it will soften with the heat and soak into the cake.

When you’re making caramel sauce, the sugar can crystalize on the side of the pan. You don’t want this when you are making a caramel sauce because those crystals can make the sauce gritty. For this recipe, it doesn’t matter because the sauce will melt into the cake.

The cake viewed from overhead showing the orange segments on top

When you turn the cake out, the caramel will sit on top of the cake and set and keep the orange segments in place instead of running all over if contained cream, then it would be a sticky orange cake. Not a bad thing, but I like how this turns out better.

Cutting the orange segments

To get the perfect pieces for the top of the cake, you first have to remove the peel and the pithe (white part). Don’t forget to zest the oranges first because it is impossible to do after.

Slicing the top and bottom off an orange

Cut the top and the bottom of the orange. Stand the orange up and start cutting from the top down following the curve of the orange. Do this all the way around until all the white and peel is gone.

Cutting the peel off an orange

Holding the orange in your hand, use a small, sharp paring knife to cut between the membranes of the orange to cut out the segments.

Cutting segments from an orange
Yield: 8 slices

Orange Salted Caramel Upside Down Cake

Orange salted caramel upside down cake ready for slicing

A fluffy orange cake is baked and topped with salted caramel and fresh orange segments.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (plus 1 more tablespoon for greasing the pan)
  • 2-3 oranges (depending on the size)
  • 3/4 cup (170 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (43 grams) water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (192 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces/1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (see note)
  • 2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup (32 grams) orange juice, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) milk


  1. Grease a 9-inch (23 cm) round cake pan with 1 tablespoon unsalted butter.
  2. Zest the oranges before cutting them, set aside.
  3. Slice the top and bottom off the oranges. Set the orange on a cutting board with the cut-side down and use a small paring knife to cut from the top down, following the curve of the orange the white pith and peel until it they are completely peeled going around the orange.
    Hold the orange in one hand and cut out orange segments by cutting either side of the white membranes. Work your way around until the whole orange is segmented. Set the segments aside.
  4. To a saucepan over medium heat, add the sugar and water . Swirl the pan gently, don’t stir, until the sugar dissolves. Allow to bubble and as soon as you start to see it turn amber yellow, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and salt (it will bubble). Stir until it stops bubbling. Immediately pour into the cake pan and swirl it into an even layer. Set aside, to harden.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
  6. To a bowl add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir to mix well.
  7. To a stand mixer or a bowl using a hand mixer beat the room temperature butter and sugar on medium high speed until fluffy and light in color, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the orange zest until mixed.
  8. Reduce the mixer to low speed and add 1/3 of the flour and mix. Add 1/3 of the liquids (orange juice and milk) and mix. Continue this, ending with the flour until all is well incorporated and smooth.
  9. Arrange the orange segments on top of the caramel in the cake pan in a fan pattern. Pour the batter over the orange segments and smooth carefully as to not move the orange segments. Tap the pan on the counter so the batter settles between the oranges.
  10. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 10 minutes.
    After 10 minutes, run a knife around the edge of the cake and turn out onto the baking rack or a plate and and allow to cool completely.


To quickly soften butter, place the butter still wrapped in paper (no foil) in the microwave on 50% power for 10 seconds, turn over and repeat until it feels softened.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 179Total Fat 6gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 58mgSodium 389mgCarbohydrates 28gFiber 2gSugar 7gProtein 5g

This nutrition calculation is provided by Nutronix that is only a guideline and not intended for any particular diet.