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Playing How to Make Upside-Down Citrus Cake | Valerie Bertinelli

Valerie Bertinelli, host of Food Network's "Valerie's Home Cooking," shares a simple and citrusy upside-down cake from her new memoir, Enough Already (she opens up about why she wrote it here). The way she describes it in the book is as irresistible as the dessert itself:  

"My mom used to make a pineapple upside-down cake that was always one of my favorites. With the fruit I have picked, I am going to make a variation of that, my upside-down citrus cake. It's tangy, sweet, and refreshing. I melt butter and mix brown sugar and granulated white sugar. Once it turns into a buttery smooth caramel, I pour it into a pan. Then I layer in slices of my oranges and a grapefruit, and pour in some orange liqueur. I make cake batter, scoop it over the fruit and bake at 350 degrees for fifty to sixty minutes. 

As it bakes, the cats and the dog find their way into the kitchen, and I know why. Something smells good and sweet and delicious. They give me a look that says, 'You're driving us crazy again.' Once upon a time, I would have spent all this time telling myself why this upside-down citrus cake was bad for me and denying myself even the smallest taste until—guess what—I would have eaten a couple of pieces and hated myself the rest of the day. 

But today I am reveling in the process, from gathering the fresh ingredients from my trees to the bakery scent that fills my kitchen. I can't wait to share it. Look at me: I love food. You can see why." –Valerie 

For more recipes from Valerie, check out her Spicy Feta Dip and Chicken Pot Pie. Plus, she opens up about working with the late Betty White on "Hot In Cleveland" here.


For the Topping:
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 1 small to medium grapefruit
  • 1 navel orange
  • 1 Cara Cara or blood orange
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur, optional
For the Cake:
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk


Serves: Makes one 9-inch cake


For the topping, preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  

Use a fine grater to zest 1 teaspoon of zest from the grapefruit, navel orange, and blood orange (for a total of 1 tablespoon zest). Reserve the zest for the cake.  

Cut the top and bottom off of each citrus and place them with a flat side on the cutting board. Then, following the curve of the fruit, use a sharp knife to cut off the peels and as much of the white pith as possible. Slice the fruit crosswise into ¼-inch-thick rounds; carefully remove any seeds.  

Combine the butter and both sugars in a small saucepan and warm over medium-low heat until melted. Pour into the prepared cake pan and spread evenly. Top with the citrus rounds so they fit very snugly and are slightly overlapping (you may not use every slice). Drizzle with the orange liqueur, if using.  

For the cake, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Put the butter, sugar, and reserved zest in another bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour; mix until just combined.  

Pour the cake batter over the citrus and bake until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake and let it cool for 15 minutes, then carefully invert it onto a platter, replacing any citrus that may have stuck to the pan. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.   

Adapted from Enough Already by Valerie Bertinelli. Copyright © 2022 by Valerie Bertinelli. Used with permission by Harvest. All rights reserved.