Clementine Buttermilk Upside Down Cake is a light, citrusy dessert that is sure to impress your guests and family. Crowned in paper-thin slices of glazed clementines, it is a stunning dessert and it is deceptively easy to make.
It was snowing the day I left Brooklyn. Not a soft, delicate snowfall… It was coming down thick and heavy. Wind blowing almost aggressively, as if it were angry. The sky was the color of pewter and rather ominous looking, the dark-bottomed clouds hung heavy filled with snow.
It felt perfectly appropriate, a perfect fit for my mood. I had more emotions than I knew what to do with. I was on the precipice of yet another move, another life-changing event and I had my doubts. I was terrified, but I stiffened my spine and threw my shoulders back. I had done this more than once in my lifetime and I wasn’t about to back down now. I had lived in New York City for 17 years, anywhere I chose to go would be culture shock… little did I know how true that statement would be.
As I packed my final few boxes into my car and locked my apartment door, my heart felt like it was almost breaking. I had to run back in and say my “final goodbye” to my home. I looked around at that tiny apartment and saw flashes of all of the memories I had made there. Some good, some bad, but memories nonetheless. The stove where I had made thousands of meals, the living room windows where I sat fixated, watching Sandy blow into town and nearly destroy my neighborhood, the kitchen windowsill where I grew my potted herbs, my bedroom window that let in the sounds of the church bells ringing. The laughter and tears that these walls had witnessed and I was saying my farewell to all of it.
I had a lot of time to think on that 1300 mile drive from New York to Florida. My brain was on overload. I couldn’t quite believe I had actually left. I would no longer wake up to the screeching brakes of NYC buses, honking horns and sirens. This might seem odd, but I was used to that sound, it was a part of daily life. I wouldn’t walk out of my apartment to see the bagel shops and delis, see people with their shopping carts leaving the grocery store or carting laundry to drop off. Where would I get a decent slice or a good bagel? (the answer is: nowhere)
I arrived in my new home on January 1st. It was planned that way. If I was going to start fresh, it needed to be a symbolic day and moment for me. Beginning this new chapter of my life on the very first day of the new year seemed right. I needed my new beginning to truly be a “new day”. I had left everything I knew for this chance to start over, start fresh and I wanted it to feel like a clean slate.
What a year it has been. There have been many trials, a few triumphs and lots of in-between. There were days that I felt I had made the biggest mistake of my life, there were days of elation, days I cried my eyes out from loneliness and days I smiled so wide and laughed so hard with new friends that it gave me back pieces of myself I thought I had lost.
“Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place…” I don’t know where I saw this, but I held on to those words hoping and praying that it was true. I have gained so much this past year and I am beyond grateful. A few days ago, the question “who was the most influential person in your life this past year?” was posed to me. I thought about it for a second and replied “Without wanting to sound like a pompous, self-centered ass… Myself”. If I had given in to my fears, I wouldn’t have moved. Had I not moved, I wouldn’t have met the amazing people I have in my life now. I have the most incredible group of people that I am blessed to call my friends, someone I love with my whole heart and most importantly, I am happy. A happiness that I didn’t have before. This journey from apples to oranges has been quite a ride. My wish for all of you this year: take a chance on yourself, you are worth it.
- 7-8 clementines total
- 5 clementines, very thinly sliced, seeds removed (if any)
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
- 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste (vanilla or 1 vanilla bean, scraped)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 tbsp. clementine zest
- 1/4 cup fresh clementine juice
- 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add clementine slices. Boil 3 minutes, then drain and arrange slices on a single layer of paper towel.
- Place 1/2 cup of butter in a 9x2 inch round cake pan (springform pan will NOT work). Mix half of the vanilla paste, and half of the sugar and add to butter. Place pan in oven and when butter has melted, whisk to combine and add 2 tbsp. clementine juice. Leave in oven for a few minutes longer.
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, beat zest, butter, 1 cup sugar and remaining vanilla on medium high speed with electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
- With mixer on low speed, add eggs, one at a time until fully incorporated, then add flour mixture in 2 batches alternating with the buttermilk and remaining clementine juice.
- Arrange clementine slices in pan on top of sugar, starting in the center and working out from middle. Make sure to overlap slices to secure them in place. Gently scoop batter on top of clementine slices and smooth top with an offset spatula.
- Bake until cake is golden and puffed and a cake tester (knife) comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen cake, then invert onto serving platter or cake stand. Let cool before serving.
- If you are not serving the same day, wrap cake very well in plastic wrap while still warm and place in freezer. Thaw at room temp (not in refrigerator) for a few hours before serving.
- I used a recipe from Martha Stewart as my jumping off point and fiddled with it just a touch. The next time I make this, I would let the sugar caramelize a bit more in the oven.