International Women’s Day & Blood Orange Upside Down Cake

I’m always game for baking a cake, but when it’s for a cause this great, my heart feels even fuller!

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake | memo2munch

Sunday was International Women’s Day, the culmination of an everyday truth into one ginormous day of appreciation!

For my part, I helped out with a dinner-discussion on women’s rights with an awesome club I’m in, Oxfam Club at IU, an affiliate of Oxfam America.

There are hundreds of ways to “get involved,” on a huge university campus. You have to do some sifting before you find the groups that are meaningful to you and have a real impact. That’s when you find Oxfam Club at IU. 😉

International Women's Day & Blood Orange Upside Down Cake | memo2munch

Anyway, dinner-discussions are cool, too. We cooked the whole meal together from scratch using beautiful produce from Bloomington’s local farmer’s market.

This included purple cauliflower. P-U-R-P-L-E. Yeah, I know.

International Women's Day & Blood Orange Upside Down Cake | memo2munch

Also, public service announcement: acorn squash are incredibly hard to peel. I think I spent half the time picking up scraps I’d accidentally sent airborne. How do people prepare squash gracefully?!

Our menu consisted of a salad (with beets, carrots, arugula, and pears), green curry (with cauliflower, squash and eggplant) served over jasmine rice, and roasted potato slices.

For dessert I brought today’s recipe, a blood orange upside down cake!

International Women's Day & Blood Orange Upside Down Cake | memo2munch

The company was great, and so was the discussion. Morgan, who is involved with IU’s Feminist Student Association, came and talked with us, and had so many interesting things to share and is such an inspirational speaker. She compared life for women in the US today to that in the 1970s. This was especially striking because 1970 wasn’t that long ago, yet so many things were different! (As in, women had zero varsity sports teams, and risked losing their jobs if they became pregnant.)

International Women's Day & Blood Orange Upside Down Cake | memo2munch

In many developing countries, women are the support system of their entire communities. Often they are the farmers that grow the food for the world, while they themselves have very little to eat and little access to education and technologies that would make their lives easier.

Oxfam America knows that empowered women can change the world, and they do some amazing things worldwide with that truth in mind. Here is the link to their page.

International Women's Day & Blood Orange Upside Down Cake | memo2munch

Aaaand I’ll go ahead and put my soapbox away now, sound good?

Let’s talk about CAKE.

International Women's Day & Blood Orange Upside Down Cake | memo2munch

A day celebrating strong women means we need a cake with some strong colors and flavors to match. Enter: blood oranges. Look at them colors.

International Women's Day & Blood Orange Upside Down Cake | memo2munch

This cake is made by melting (vegan) butter and brown sugar in a cast-iron skillet (a delicious combo in itself), arranging slices of orange on top, and then pouring the batter over all of it. Let it do its magic in the oven, and then when you flip it over you’re left with the gooiest, most decadent caramelized oranges atop the perfect cake to soak it all up.

YUM.

International Women's Day & Blood Orange Upside Down Cake | memo2munch

Really, you could do this cake with any fruit you’d like. This recipe is modeled after a classic pineapple upside down cake (which I promise I will actually make for you, Grandpa Gene, next time I see you!)

ENJOYYYYY

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake
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For topping
  1. 1-2 blood oranges, sliced into very thin rounds, with some of the peels cut away
  2. 6 tbsp. vegan butter
  3. 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
For batter
  1. 1 1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  2. 1/4 c. fine cornmeal
  3. 1.5 tsp. ground cinnamon
  4. 2 tsp. baking powder
  5. 1/4 tsp. salt
  6. 6 tbsp. vegan butter, softened
  7. 1 c. granulated sugar
  8. 2 large eggs
  9. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  10. 1/2 c. orange juice*
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Make topping: Melt butter in a 10 inch cast-iron skillet (alternatively, if you don't have a cast-iron skillet you can prepare the topping in a frying pan and pour it into a greased, 10 inch round cake pan). Add brown sugar and simmer over medium heat for 4 minutes, stirring.
  3. Remove from heat and arrange orange slices on top of mixture, slightly overlapping each other. I made a ring around the outside and then filled in the center. Set aside.
  4. Make the batter: Whisk together flour, cornmeal, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a small mixing bowl.
  5. In a large bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
  6. Gently beat in half of flour mixture. Then mix in the orange juice. Fold in the remaining flour mixture, stirring until just combined and no major lumps remain.
  7. Spoon batter over orange topping and spread evenly. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for five minutes. Then, invert a plate on top of the skillet. Using oven mitts, keep the plate and the skillet pressed firmly together and confidently flip the cake onto the plate. Gently remove skillet.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature. (We ate ours with coconut whipped cream!)
Notes
  1. *I used the juice from an extra blood orange, but you can use regular, store-bought orange juice.
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