Upside-Down Plenta Blood Orange Cake

IMG_5738Makes 8 servings

This recipe has been adapted from Bon Appétit. I don’t do a lot of baking, but blood orange season made me do it! And I love all things polenta, so for me this was a perfect match made in heaven, at least within the conventional baking world. We served the cake with a dollop of whipped cream spiced with a little cardamom. It tasted divinely.

1/4 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3/4 cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
4 blood oranges, peel and white pith removed, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp polenta (not quick-cooking)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9-inch spring from pan and place on a rimmed baking sheet (the oranges might drip a little while baking.)
Cook brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter and 2 Tbsp water in a small medium over medium heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved and mixture is smooth. Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring, 2 minutes until it is slightly thickened.
Pour caramel into prepared pan and let rest until set, about 5 minutes.
Arrange orange slices in concentric circles in a single layer over the caramel.
Whisk flour, polenta, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl.
Place granulated sugar and remaining butter in a large bowl and add vanilla seeds.
Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend each well before adding the next.
Continue to beat until mixture is fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients in 3 parts alternating with buttermilk in 2 parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
Scrape batter into prepared pan being careful not to disturb orange slices. Smooth surface.
Bake until golden brown and a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 50-65 minutes.
Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.
Run a knife around the edges of cake to loosen, then unmold.
Invert cake onto a plate and carefully remove bottom of pan.
Let cool completely.
Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream spiced with a little cardamom.