upside down blood orange, ricotta, almond and polenta cake

While browsing through instagram a few weeks back, I spied a picture of an upside down blood orange, ricotta, almond and polenta cake adapted from the River Cafe's Lemon Polenta Cake.  

Blood oranges and ricotta are 2 of my favourite things and as I'd already made the River Cafe's lemon cake a few times before, I was keen to give this version a try. When I found that blood oranges were on special at the fruit shop this week I bought a few to make this cake.

Early on Sunday morning, I collected all the ingredients.

You need to use well drained ricotta from the deli for this recipe.

I used a combination of brown sugar and water at the base of the tin as suggested by Deb from Smitten Kitchen then arranged the orange slices over the base before carefully spooning the delicate batter over the fruit. 

Here's the recipe for you, which makes an 8 inch cake. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C. 

Upside down blood orange, polenta and ricotta cake
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
3 blood oranges
1 lemon
125g almond meal
50g polenta flour
115g unsalted butter, softened
135g caster sugar
3 large eggs, separated
165 grams ricotta, drained
75mls orange/lemon juice
Additional 1 tbs caster sugar
¼ cup apricot jam or marmalade

Preheat oven to 170°C. Butter a 8-inch round cake pan and line the base and sides with baking paper. Stir brown sugar and water together. Pour into the base of the prepared cake pan and spread thinly. Set aside. Grate the zest of 1 of the oranges and the lemon. Using a small, sharp knife, slice off 1 cm from the top and bottom of 2 of the oranges. Standing each orange up on a board, carefully but neatly follow the natural curves of the orange with the knife to peel off the remaining skin and all the white pith. Cut each orange horizontally into thin slices. Remove the pips then arrange the slices over the brown sugar base in the cake pan. Juice the third orange then add sufficient lemon juice to make 75 mls.

In a small bowl, combine the almond meal with the polenta flour. Beat the butter, sugar and zests together in a mixer until pale and light. Add the egg yolks one by one. Put the ricotta in a bowl and lightly beat with a fork before adding the blood orange juice. Gently stir the ricotta mixture into the cake batter alternating with the almond mixture. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the extra tablespoon of sugar and whisk until combined. Gently fold the egg whites into the almond mixture.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and gently smooth the cake batter, trying not to disturb orange slices underneath then bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour or until set. Test by inserting a skewer, which should come out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing from the tin and inverting onto a cake plate. Don't leave the cake for too long before unmoulding or the topping will set and you'll find it impossible to get the cake out of the tin.

While the cake is cooling, heat the jam in the microwave until it melts then gently brush over the cake top. Let the cake cool completely before cutting into slices. Serve as is or with a dollop of double cream. 

This cake is best served on the day of making as the oranges tend to lose their shine. Store any leftover cake in the fridge.

The cake is almost more of a cheesecake than a regular cake and the addition of the orange slices does make this quite soft and a bit of a challenge to cut into neat slices. So don't do what I did and allow the cake to cool completely before cutting a slice. The blood orange version of the cake is much sweeter than the lemon version due to the brown sugar base, which isn't a bad thing. In case you're wondering, the unused blood orange rind didn't go to waste. I candied it in preparation for my Christmas baking and it's drying out on a rack while I type this.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,




  1. This recipe is great for celiacs as it's gluten free. Would you define 'polenta flour' please? It could be corn flour or corn starch here in the states. Thanks.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. In Australia our cornflour is white and what you'd call cornstarch in the States. That's not what you need for this recipe. I used Polenta flour which is finely milled yellow cornmeal and you can see a small bowl of it in the third photo. I think the US equivalent would be yellow cornflour. I hope that helps.


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