Upside-down orange and almond cake
I have to confess to a mild obsession with all things upside-down - tarte tartin, self-saucing puddings - and of course, cakes. I think it's the surprise reveal of hidden saucy or caramelised deliciousness that does it for me. If you're a fellow traveller on this road, here's a method for "upside-downing" our bake-at-home orange and almond cake - give it a go one rainy weekend afternoon.
One Dinner Ladies bake-at-home orange and almond cake mix
One large (or two small) oranges
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup water
Make sure your cake mix is fully defrosted before you begin, and pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees. Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.
Finely slice your oranges with a sharp knife, removing any pips.
In a saucepan over a medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the water. Add the orange slices - if they are bobbing disobediently above the sugar syrup, put some baking paper over the top of them, and weigh this down with a smaller saucepan lid. Lower the heat, and simmer for at least 20 minutes, until the rinds are translucent.
Remove the orange slices with an egg flip to a plate. Allow to cool slightly, and reduce the liquid a little till it's syrupy.
Arrange the orange slices in your cake tin, to line it completely. It doesn't matter if they overlap a little. If you'd like your oranges to be caramelised, you can add some of the syrup to the bottom of the pan, but be warned this will make them chewier, and the cake more difficult to cut. I don't recommend it, I am just confessing that I did it to make my picture prettier!
Add the cake mix to the tin and bake for 50 minutes, or till a skewer comes out clean. Keep an eye on it, and tent with foil if it's becoming too dark. When it's done, leave to cool in the tin for about half an hour before upending it onto a flat board for the grand reveal! If you'd like, you can brush it with some of the syrup so it's glossier.
This cake is one that improves with age - don't plan to eat it fresh from the oven. I think it's at it's best the day after baking.
Use a sharp knife to cut the slices.