Recipe: Orange Upside-Down Cake

A beautiful, heart-healthy dessert
An overhead view of an orange upside-down cake with a single slice set aside on a small plate

Try baking this luscious cake in a cast-iron skillet, though a 10-inch ovenproof skillet works just as well!

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Stone-ground yellow cornmeal replaces traditional wheat flour for an interesting change in texture and flavor.

By using the fewest egg yolks possible — without compromising taste — we’ve kept the saturated fat and cholesterol in this decadent dessert to a minimum.


Orange layer

1 large thin-skinned orange, such as Valencia
1/4 cup sugar

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Polenta cake layer

2 tablespoons skim milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/2-ounce package active dry yeast
2 large eggs, separated, plus 2 additional large egg whites
2 tablespoons trans-free margarine
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal


  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Wash the orange. Cut off and discard the ends. Cut the orange crosswise into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Remove any seeds. Place in skillet, add 1/4 cup water and sprinkle with sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, gently stirring to keep the fruit from sticking. Cook until the liquid is almost gone and the orange slices are carmelized. With a fork, move the orange slices into an attractive pattern at the bottom of the skillet.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat the milk until warm but not hot. Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the yeast. Stir until the yeast is dissolved. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together the 2 egg yolks, the remaining sugar and the margarine until pale yellow and thick. Add the orange zest and vanilla; mix well. Sift the cornmeal into the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Stir in the yeast mixture, which should now be frothy.
  5. In a clean bowl, beat all 4 egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Stir 1/3 of the beaten whites into the cornmeal mixture. Carefully fold in the remaining whites. Spoon the batter in dollops over the oranges slices in the skillet. Smooth the top.
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Run a knife between the sides of the skillet and the cake. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Hold a flat serving plate over the skillet and invert the cake. Serve while still warm.

NOTE: If you can’t find a Valencia orange in your market, substitute a navel orange and peel it before slicing.

Nutritional information (per serving)

Makes 8 servings

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Calories: 150 (18% calories from fat)
Total fat: 3 g total fat
Saturated fat: 0.5 g
Protein: 4 g
Carbohydrate: 26 g
Dietary fiber: 1 g
Cholesterol: 55 mg
Sodium: 60 mg
Potassium: 130 mg

Source: Cleveland Clinic Healthy Heart Lifestyle Guide and Cookbook (© 2007 Broadway Books).

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